A Holistic Assessment of CBP’s CTPAT Program

We are proud to announce the release of the 2021 CTPAT Study led by CT Strategies in collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the University of Houston’s BTI Institute (A DHS Center of Excellence). The study surveyed and interviewed CTPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) members and program administrators to examine the program’s effectiveness, identify areas of weakness, and provide suggestions for improvement. The study proved timely, as the program’s value has been scrutinized during the pandemic when industry stakeholders began cutting costs and evaluating returns on many types of investment.

The research study delivers a holistic view of the program through surveying program members, but also involving responses collected from CTPAT management at the field office and headquarter levels, as well as from CBP officers at ports of entry. The research consists of interviews with 24% of the CTPAT workforce and a broad sample of CTPAT members across industries. Of the over 11,000 members of the CTPAT program, a notable 33% provided survey responses making the study more comprehensive than the last evaluation conducted in 2011.

Results of the study include actionable statistics as well as detailed anecdotal responses from interviews that were conducted to gauge member and administrative sentiment about the program. The report highlights that about half of CTPAT participants indicated that the benefits of CTPAT membership outweigh the costs. This is a more positive assessment of the program compared to the 2011 study.

Specific areas of recommended improvement noted in the study include:

  • Promote unofficial benefits and individualized benefits by entity type
  • Continue to improve program-wide consistency through policy, communication, and technology
  • Provide increased, improved, and more frequent training/interactions for CTPAT officials, CBP stakeholders and industry partners
  • Develop and collect program data to accurately evaluate the Program’s progress and set a potential foundation for the development of return on investment (ROI) metrics for members

The wide-ranging final report provides current insight for companies considering CTPAT membership, existing members looking to maximize their program benefits, port authorities interested in improving operational efficiency, academic researchers focused on trade, and leaders in the international community that are concerned with the advancement of trade facilitation.