Maritime Security: Substantial Work Remains to Translate New Planning Requirements into Effective Port Security Page: 2 of 57
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Accountability- Integrity- Reliability
Highlights of GAO-04-838, a report to
Why GAO Did This Study
The Maritime Transportation
Security Act of 2002, as
implemented by the Coast Guard,
calls for owners and operators of
about 3,150 port facilities (such as
shipping terminals or factories with
hazardous materials) and about
9,200 vessels (such as cargo ships,
ferries, and tugs and barges) to
develop and implement security
plans by July 1, 2004. The Coast
Guard intends to conduct on-site
compliance inspections of all
facilities by January 1, 2005, and all
vessels by July 1, 2005, to ensure
plans are adequately implemented.
The Coast Guard estimated the
act's security improvements would
cost $7.3 billion over 10 years-
most of it borne by facility and
vessel owners and operators. GAO
was asked to assess (1) the
progress towards developing,
reviewing, and approving plans by
July 1, 2004, (2) the Coast Guard's
monitoring and oversight strategy
for ensuring that plans are
implemented, and (3) the accuracy
of the Coast Guard's cost estimate.
GAO recommends that the Coast
Guard evaluate its initial
compliance efforts and use them to
strengthen the compliance process
for its long-term strategy. As part of
this strategy, the Coast Guard
should clearly define inspector
qualifications and consider
including unscheduled and
unannounced inspections and
covert testing. The Coast Guard
To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact Margaret
Wrightson at (415) 904-2200 or
Substantial Work Remains to Translate
New Planning Requirements into
Effective Port Security
What GAO Found
Owners and operators have made progress in developing security plans for
their port facilities and vessels. However, the extent to which the Coast
Guard will have reviewed and approved the approximately 12,300 individual
plans by July 1, 2004, varies considerably. About 5,900 plans were being
developed under an option allowing owners and operators to self-certify that
they would develop and implement plans by July 1, using industry-
developed, Coast Guard-approved standards and templates. These individual
plans will not be reviewed before July 1 unless owners or operators choose
to submit them for review. The remaining 6,400 plans went through a review
process established by the Coast Guard. Every plan required revisions, some
of which were significant. As of June 2004-1 month before the deadline for
implementation-more than half of the 6,400 plans were still in process. The
Coast Guard took steps to speed up the process and to allow facilities and
vessels to continue operating with less than full plan approval after July 1, as
long as the Coast Guard was satisfied with their progress.
The Coast Guard's strategy for monitoring and overseeing security plan
implementation will face numerous challenges. Whether the Coast Guard
will be able to conduct timely on-site compliance inspections of all facilities
and vessels is uncertain because questions remain about whether the Coast
Guard will have enough inspectors; a training program sufficient to
overcome major differences in experience levels; and adequate guidance to
help inspectors conduct thorough, consistent reviews. Another challenge is
to ensure inspections reflect assessments of the normal course of business
at facilities and aboard vessels.
The accuracy of the Coast Guard's $7.3 billion estimate for implementing
security improvements is likewise uncertain. The estimate, while a good-
faith effort on the Coast Guard's part, is based on limited data and on
assumptions that are subject to error. The estimate should be viewed more
as a rough indicator than a precise measure of costs.
Port facilities pose many security concerns, given their size, accessibility, and
attractiveness as terrorist targets. Facilities like these must have a security plan in place by
July 1, 2004.
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Source: Coast Guard.
United States General Accounting Office
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United States. General Accounting Office. Maritime Security: Substantial Work Remains to Translate New Planning Requirements into Effective Port Security, report, June 30, 2004; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc299170/m1/2/: accessed June 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.