Although government funds are available for homeland defense technology, is enough money being earmarked? These analysts dont believe so. The U.S. government should "invest in technology that makes full inspection feasible," according to Tohamy. "With the advancement of detection technologies, it is feasible to inspect each shipment without impacting processing speed."But "the government must move beyond pilots [and] help fund wide deployments of these systems across all ports," according to Tohamy. "Im always of the school of thought that we dont spend enough," Farr concurred. "Current levels of spending [on homeland security] are low, especially in comparison to the Department of Defense." Also in the Forrester report, Tohamy made a number of other recommendations for guarding the nations supply chain. The analyst urged the government to define a mix of mandatory and voluntary security guidelines for the private sector, and to give compliant companies "tangible rewards." Tohamy told eWEEK.com that SMBs (small to medium-sized businesses) are generally less likely than large enterprises to comply with voluntary programs such as the U.S. governments Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and Free and Secure Trade (FAST). Under C-TPAT, importers are allowed to conduct self-assessments of their supply chain security. After reviewing a companys self-assessment, U.S. Customs certifies the importer as C-TPAT-compliant, if satisfied, and the freight is designated as low risk. In FAST, compliant importers and carriers enjoy expedited border processing, with fewer freight inspections. According to Tohamy, the government should encourage SMBs to participate in these programs by quantifying the benefits that can be achieved, such as better productivity, or by providing financial incentives. But Farr advised government caution in mandating security programs and technology in the private sector. "Certainly, some security should be mandated, such as at chemical plants. But this country is just too large and complex for there to be that many mandates. You cant fortify everythingso you have to pick your battles," Farr told eWEEK.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news and analysis of enterprise supply chains.
A test of vehicle-mounted gamma ray technology at the port of Seattle, conducted through Operation Safe Commerce, represented a good start, she said.