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Commissioner Kerlikowske’s Remarks at the Reimbursable Service Agreement Signing Ceremony with Massport

Release Date: 
July 27, 2016

Remarks as Prepared for July 27, 2016

Thank you, Todd. I’m pleased to be here in Boston – one of our nation’s earliest and most important economic centers. From Massport, I’d like to thank:

  • Tom Glynn, Massport’s Chief Executive Officer;  
  • Ed Freni, Massport’s Director of Aviation;
  • Todd Smith, Director of Aviation Operations, Massport, and
  • Sam Sleiman, Director of Capital Programs.

From CBP, we have:

  • Todd Owen, Executive Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Field Operations;
  • Bill Ferrara, Boston’s new Director of Field Operations;
  • Helen Sterling and Nora Ehrlich, Assistant Directors of Field Operations; and
  • Boston’s brand new Area Port Director, Clint Lamm.

The Reimbursable Service Agreement we’re signing here today is a significant milestone for both CBP and for Massport.

We all know growth is a good thing – when it’s managed properly – and CBP and Massport are taking significant steps to do just that. Boston Logan International Airport has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years, serving 5.5 million international passengers in 2015.

In fact, the total commercial and private volume of passengers and crew coming through Boston Logan increased by more than 40% from Fiscal Year 2009 to FY 2015. And Massport estimates that the number of international seats for 2016 is up by 16% over 2015.

The addition of new routes – especially to Asia, Central America, and the Middle East is contributing to this growth, and the economic impact over the past three years is estimated to be worth $1.4 billion annually.

CBP and Massport have a great track record of working together to improve the international arrivals process. For example, Boston Logan was one of the first airports to participate in CBP’s Model Ports Initiatives in 2008.

This track record ranges from the installation of new signage to the introduction of Trusted Traveler programs and the incorporation of new technologies like Automated Passport Control kiosks — Massport has installed 50 of these kiosks — and they’ve helped reduce Boston Logan’s wait times.

Nevertheless, as trade and travel volumes continue to rise overall, CBP’s staffing and modernization needs have far outpaced the funding we receive through traditional appropriations.

Our mission is truly complex: facilitating lawful travel and trade while maintaining border security – which includes combating terrorism and transnational criminal organizations. On any given day CBP officers at U.S. international airports process nearly 300,000 incoming passengers and crew.

Against this backdrop, CBP officers must carefully balance uncompromising vigilance with efficiency in the inspection process.

More than 112 million international travelers arrived at U.S. airports during Fiscal Year 2015, a 5 percent increase over 2014. And over the next five years, international travel is projected to increase at an annual rate of around 4 percent. In fact, international air arrivals are already up by 7 percent compared to this time last year!

We know that additional flights and additional inspection booths have the potential for significant economic benefits – but they also place even greater demands on CBP’s resources.

Reimbursable Service Agreements – or RSAs – are a terrific tool for helping us provide a best-in-class international arrivals experience to an ever-increasing number of visitors while maintaining the highest standards of national security.

Since the inception of the program, CBP has provided more than 63,000 officer overtime assignments and an additional 174,000 hours of services. This enabled CBP to process more than 4.2 million travelers and more than 627,000 personal and commercial vehicles at participating ports of entry.

Today, we’re signing an RSA with Massport that will enable CBP to provide processing, immigration, and inspection services for international air travelers arriving at Boston Logan International Airport. Massport will fund additional CBP staffing in Terminal E during peak passenger times.

This will help keep people moving, whether Boston is their final destination or they’re trying to make a connecting flight.

CBP developed RSAs to address increased demands on CBP’s existing resources and to enhance services on a reimbursable basis for interested stakeholders in all operational environments.

These partnerships are really a “win-win” – because they help CBP carry out our national security mission, and they help private and public entities develop new opportunities to expedite the legitimate flow of people and goods that are vital to our economy.

Under the statute, CBP is allowed to enter into only 10 reimbursable service agreements per year at CBP-serviced airports. These agreements are limited to overtime costs and support services – they are not intended to replace existing services. Instead, they give us greater flexibility to accommodate new or expanded requests for service, which we would not be able to otherwise provide based on existing CBP resource and budget limitations.

Reimbursable services under this authority include customs, agricultural processing, border security services, immigration inspection, and support services at ports of entry.

CBP selected 16 partners as Section 559 partners in 2014, followed by 9 more in 2015. For 2016, on June 23, CBP announced 29 tentative selections for new RSAs under Section 559.

Today’s agreement with Massport marks the first implementation of services resulting from the 2016 open period for applications.

CBP continues to make great strides in improving the “traveler experience” while securing our Nation’s borders. I’d like to thank you all for joining us here today for this milestone. These partnerships are critical for managing the sustained growth in international trade and travel over the past few years. I’m delighted to sign this agreement with Massport.

Thank you, and I look forward to taking your questions.

Last modified: 
February 8, 2017