Recently, I had the chance to visit the Department of Homeland Security’s Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center—CTAC. I met with both CPSC staff who work there and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol staff they work alongside. CTAC was established 4 years ago to coordinate information sharing among agencies responsible for the safety of imports. Through this effort, the CPSC and CBP have been able to leverage their knowledge about products and companies to better target potentially hazardous products and stop hazardous ones from reaching store shelves.
Sharing information and priorities among multiple federal agencies helps both consumers and the regulated community: the coordination makes our efforts more effective and efficient, meaning that we can police more imports with the same staff. At the same time, CTAC (and other developments being pursued by DHS and CBP) should enable importers to reduce the number of redundant forms they must complete and shorten the time that legitimate trade is slowed before entering the American market. Based on what I saw and heard, it is clear that both the CPSC and CBP have learned a lot from each other since CTAC started, and we stand to learn a lot more, especially as other federal agencies increase their engagement.