In my recent blog post entitled “The 3 Dirty Words Unspoken by U.S. Customs Commissioner Bersin”, I  had advised that U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin had established some priorities.  One of the most prominent action steps already implemented by Commissioner Bersin was to reassign Todd Owen from his position as Executive Director for Cargo and Conveyance Security at CBP Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to become the new Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles, California.

In his former role, Mr. Owen was responsible for all cargo security programs and policies for CBP, including the National Targeting Center-Cargo, and the 100% scanning initiative. In Mr. Owen’s new position, he now has the responsibility over LAX, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, as well as Las Vegas International Airport. 45% of the maritime cargo which enters the U.S. does so through LA/Long Beach.  By comparison, the next largest port is Port Elizabeth, at 11%.  LAX is also the second largest international airport behind JFK.

Many people first got to know Todd when he was appointed Director of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT), a position which he served from January 2005 to May 2006.  Todd has also held the position of Area Port Director in New Orleans, positions with CBP in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and started his career in 1990 as an Import Specialist in Cleveland, Ohio.  In addition to his impressive career achievements at CBP, he has excelled academically too.  Mr. Owen is a career member of the Senior Executive Service, and was a senior executive fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Todd’s professional background and personal characteristics fit squarely into what Commissioner Bersin appears to be promoting at CBP- persons with (1) technical knowledge, (2) a reputation for fairness, (3) a willingness to listen to the international trade community, and (4) a keen understanding of the joint objective of economic security and national security.