The Congressional Research Services Report for Air Cargo Security, as updated in 2007, lays out the then-current situation, the legislative and related policies put into place after September 11, 2001, the practices that had been put into place, and the remaining work to be done with projected dates for completion. Border security is a topic within the larger question of transportation security, as only a portion of the report deals with international matters.
Especially important in the discussion of transportation security are the policies and practices of the Transportation Security Agency (TSA). The report notes that initially, most attention has focused on air cargo carried on passenger airplanes. General provisions for such cargo are laid out in the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA, P.L. 107-71). In contrast, the report notes, all-cargo operations had received less attention, but it anticipates that these areas will be caught up soon. The report includes some information on activities of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Another important document discussed is the National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458), which addressed the need for multiple aspects of air cargo security—such as blast-resistant containers, security technology, the evaluation of threats, and the creation of new operational regulations. Those regulations, according to 2006 TSA revisions, include an industry-wide known shipper database, worker background checks, and enhanced security in air cargo operations areas.
The question of screening is also considered extensively. The amount of air cargo screened, according to the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act (H.R. 1, H.Rept. 110-259), would increase to 50 percent within 18 months and 100 percent over a three-year period. The report notes that TSA was not providing information on the percentage of cargo then being physical inspected; the FY2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act (P.L. 108-334) recommended tripling the then-current amount of screening for passenger-aircraft cargo. To increase this amount, improved technology was needed as well as additional equipment and personnel. Explosive detection equipment would be a high priority.
In terms of border security, the relevant discussion mostly concerns the amount of cargo carried on international passenger flights. The report considers the relationship between international and national cargo, with information on the relative revenues and amounts. For example, in FY2003, domestic figures show 14.3 billion revenue ton miles (RTMs) of cargo were shipped by air, compared with 18.5 billion RTMs of cargo shipped by air on international flights (both to and from the United States). The amount of international cargo was estimated to increase more than twice as much as domestic—110 percent and 50 percent respectively—by FY2016.
Border security also figures into expanding knowledge of the sources of cargo. One area that the report emphasizes is the "known shipper program," which expands the efforts to create a global database of known shippers in order to reduce and ultimately eliminate cargo from unknown shippers that is carried by passenger airlines. Both the logistical difficulties and expense of checking on all these shippers and creating the database are offered as obstacles to its completion.