Increased Security Funding Vital to Protect U.S. Ports
Criticism of Port Security Grant Program ‘misses the mark’
ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Responding to recent news coverage about major
management challenges facing the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS), including the way the department has handled its Port Security
Grants Program, American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA)
President Kurt Nagle today said the criticism "misses the mark,"
noting that the program’s biggest problem is a serious lack of money
to assist American seaports in paying for critical security measures.
airports, protecting our seaports against terrorism must be a top
priority and a shared responsibility between the federal government,
local public ports and private industry," said Nagle. "The federal
government has mandated security enhancements for marine facilities,
but has yet to adequately fund those mandates, creating huge financial
burdens on ports that have both security and economic consequences."
are already spending more than $3 billion annually on infrastructure
improvements and operating expenses to keep pace with burgeoning world
trade. Without adequate federal help for security enhancements, Nagle
said that ports will be forced to spend money on security instead of
capital improvements, likely resulting in a system unable to handle
the expected growth in trade volumes and causing enormous impacts on
Throughout the country, ports are facing massive new security spending
requirements. For instance, the Port of Miami has absorbed $6 million
in costs annually for the past three years to pay for additional
security operating costs, except for two grants totaling $4 million.
The additional expenses have caused the port to put on hold such
projects as road improvements, bulkhead repairs and construction of an
intermodal container transfer facility. Similarly, according to a Dec.
27, 2004 Associated Press wire story, port directors on the Great
Lakes say they are spending money on security enhancements that
otherwise would pay for terminal and transportation improvements, such
as dredging channels at the gateways for materials used in
construction and to produce steel used in automobiles, appliances and
other consumer goods.
draft report to be issued this month, a former DHS Inspector General
questioned the prioritization of port security grant funding and
procedures related to post-award grant administration. AAPA’s Nagle
noted that seaport security grant money is used to reimburse marine
facilities only after they have spent money on an approved project.
So, while some post-award projects may not be visited by DHS auditors,
grant program money goes only to cover authorized expenses, which
exclude personnel, maintenance and operating costs.
"Ensuring adequate security against terrorism is important for all
ports, large and small," remarked Nagle, saying the problem is a
matter of funding. For Fiscal Year’05, the AAPA advocated a federal
funding level for America’s seaport facilities of $400 million, based
on Coast Guard estimates that it will cost $5.4 billion over the next
10 years to address terrorist threats. However, the federal funding
level for FY’05 was $150 million. For the last round of grants, ports
received only about 8 percent of what they requested.
the president’s soon-to-be-released Fiscal Year 2006 proposed budget
will provide more funding to protect our vital marine facilities,"
protection for ports is essential, both from an economic and a
national security perspective. Ports handle 95 percent of America’s
overseas cargoes and serve as departure points for an estimated 10
million cruise passengers annually. They also enable deployment of
U.S. military vessels, personnel and cargo to support our troops in
Iraq and Afghanistan, while ensuring the ability of relief
organizations to ship critical supplies to areas of the world hard hit
by man-made and natural disasters, such as the tsunami catastrophe in
Southeast Asia last week.
industry and port users generate about 16 million jobs and handle more
than $2 trillion worth of international trade annually, accounting for
fully 27 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
America’s ports are our gateways to the world and a critical component
in our nation’s economic health and national defense, they need to be
properly defended," Nagle said. "Paying for their security must be
shared equitably. While ports are making progress in getting increased
assistance for their security investments, vital port needs are still
being overlooked and under funded."