In the August 2010 issue of this newsletter we predicted that TSA would turn toward a “harder” approach to enforcing its rules rather than the cooperative, educational approach used in the past. That predicted trend has become evident in the last few months, as the press has reported on five companies under investigation – including one criminal investigation – for potential violations of the Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP).

  • Press reports indicate that in December 2010 TSA began an investigation of Activair, an air cargo subsidiary of third-party logistics operator OHL.
    • Based on TSA’s preliminary findings, TSA ordered Activair’s Indianapolis facility to cease handling air cargo.
    • OHL told news networks that it is cooperating with the investigation and that it voluntarily removed Activair's Indianapolis facility from the CCSP.
    • Seven employees in Activair's Indianapolis facility were reported to have been given their walking papers.
    • Initially the investigation was considered civil, but after interviews with employees at Activair's Indianapolis facility revealed that the employees were acting under direct orders from supervisors to forgo screening to save money, TSA brought in criminal investigators to interview OHL and Activair employees and former employees.
    • TSA also sent agents to Activair's Chicago, Seattle and New York facilities, and in response OHL has voluntarily suspended Activair's air export business across the United States.
  • Press reports indicate that in 2011 at least four other companies have received citations from TSA for possible air cargo screening violations.
    • While there are no indications that the other investigations are criminal in nature, several of the companies under investigation reportedly have been removed from the CCSP.
    • Even temporary removal from the CCSP can have a devastating effect for a company committed to screening cargo for customers, as those customers have to find new cargo screeners.
  • In light of the multiple CCSP compliance problems, TSA recently sent letters to CCSP participants asking that they voluntarily review their CCSP compliance efforts and report to TSA on any actions to boost those compliance efforts.
    • TSA reminded CCSP participants that, in the event TSA discovers negligent or willful violations of regulatory requirements, TSA may take appropriate action, including the issuance of civil penalties, referral for criminal prosecution, and/or withdrawal from TSA programs.
  • As all of this activity suggests, TSA-regulated companies should focus on compliance efforts.