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2003 Speeches
Rick Stephens

Rick Stephens

Vice President and General Manager of Homeland Security and Services

The Boeing Company

"Best Business Practices for Securing America's Borders"

Washington, DC

July 23, 2003

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

Good Morning. I am Rick Stephens, Vice President and General Manager of Homeland Security and Services for The Boeing Company. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss best business practices as they relate to border security.

One of the biggest challenges we face as a global community is defining the respective roles world governments and business leaders will play in the war on terrorism. Collectively, our jobs are to find ways to stop terrorism so that people feel safe and to protect the means that support our global economic prosperity. This is a large and complex problem. The approach must be complete and integrated if we want to find a comprehensive and efficient solution to this clear and present danger.

Terrorists are strategists. They choose their targets deliberately. They know no boundaries and operate both within and outside our borders as was evidenced on 9-11. We have to catch them before they act. To do that, we must augment and integrate the best information and management systems possible to collect information and "connect the dots" in time to thwart any attack. We need to see - to know - and to understand. We must anticipate security challenges on all fronts.

As the world's largest aerospace company, Boeing has developed many "best practices" for developing and implementing large-scale solutions to issues that require the interaction of people, processes and technology. The skills we have developed by integrating advanced systems for defense, space, intelligence, homeland security and commercial customers are directly applicable to solving large, complex problems the United States faces in its homeland security mission.

Based on our experience, we identified the following seven proven tenets that apply to successful large-systems integration projects. We offer them as best business practices that can be applied to homeland security and could help increase the security of our nation's borders:

I used the term "customer" a number of times and believe it's important to emphasize that ultimately the customer is the American public, the business community and the government infrastructure that supports our democracy.

Aviation and border security face similar challengers. Let me give you an example of how we applied best practices to airport security. Last year, the government selected Boeing to help Americans feel secure about air travel by supporting TSA in meeting a Congressional mandate to screen 100 percent of checked baggage by Dec. 31, 2002 at all the nation's commercial airports. Many experts thought the job was not possible. But we accomplished that goal by building a world-class team and working hand-in-hand with our customers, the Transportation Security Administration and the aviation industry.

We applied our experience and proven principles of lead systems integration. In 207 days, the Boeing team conducted site surveys, preliminary designs, final design and facility modifications, installed more than 6,000 explosive detection systems and explosive trace devices at 439 commercial airports in the United States. The Boeing team also trained more than 25,000 checked baggage screeners. This represents one of the largest short-term projects in U.S. government history.

To reach the objective, we needed the involvement and buy-in of more than 3,000 stakeholders nationwide - TSA (now a part of the Department of Homeland Security), the nation's airports and airlines and many other officials at the state and local levels. The Boeing program team, drawing on expertise from across the company and its supplier partners, grew from a core group of 100 to more than 30,000 strong, working together with the aviation industry and government stakeholders to achieve the stated goal of 100 percent baggage screening. While most would agree that there is additional work to be done to smooth out the rough spots, given the time and resources constraints, the job was accomplished well and America's aviation system is more secure.

We are now leveraging the work we did with the airport security program to support additional homeland security large-scale systems integration opportunities where meeting extremely complex goals with the greatest possible urgency and efficiency to help keep Americans safe and secure is required. As you are aware, Boeing and its best-of-class partners were selected for one of the Operation Safe Commerce programs. We are working directly with the stakeholders involved in examining, securing and tracking goods shipped into the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach and we will be conducting similar demonstrations at other seaport locations. We are using all of the seven tenets I described above.

Within the Boeing Company, we recently initiated the Integrated Border Awareness and Management (IBAM) study to understand how the U.S. border operates, including its stakeholders, processes and technologies. Because Boeing is the United States' largest exporter with business sites located near significant border ports of entry, Boeing has a vested interest -- as well as an obligation -- to use its people, processes and technologies toward improving the security at U.S. borders. We also have a vested interest because of the need to ensure our global customers are able to gain entrance to the United States to train their pilots and aircrews to operate our products.

That said, we are not experts on border security. However, we recognize the challenge the federal government faces in securing our borders - 7,500-plus miles of border with Canada and Mexico, 95,000 miles of shoreline and navigable waterways, 300 ports of entry. Our initial study of current border management helped us recognize the environment we were dealing with:

Congress has mandated the U.S. Visit program to address some of these near-term security issues at the borders. Our company, along with many others, is looking at long-term solutions and we recognize the need to incorporate U.S. Visit as a first phase. We encourage government to be sensitive to defining requirements in such a way as not to stifle the inventiveness of what industry can bring to the table.

Border security also requires a large-scale integration solution utilizing information-gathering tools and technology, modeling and simulation, and network centric operations in a layered approach similar to what the Transportation Security Administration developed for airport security.

Looking back to the enormity of the challenge of the aviation security project, we can't afford gaps in the system. Six Sigma, a key quality control concept in the 1980s and '90s that enhanced manufacturing production by measuring defective parts per million, simply isn't good enough when you're talking about the nation's security. We need to review information occurring in millions of transactions per day, look at trends and political issues and, as some would say, moving the haystacks away so we are left with the needles. This concept again points to the need to use large-scale integration concepts that till ensure layered solutions because we recognize that no systems are perfect and layered solutions must be a requirement for border security.

Border security is a hard job. Many organizations are involved and there is a lot of sharing of information that must take place in ways that we have never shared information before. Many varied stakeholders must work together to protect not only America but also the resources that make our economy strong and vibrant.

Very few companies have the ability to integrate systems at the scale we are talking about for U.S. borders. For any integration to be successful, there must be a partnership between government and industry and both must follow the best business practices that I mentioned previously in my statement.

That concludes my statement, Mr. Chairman. I would be pleased to address any questions you and other members of the subcommittee might have.