Some long awaited funding has finally been released from the Federal Government to shore up port security across the nation. Yester, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge
, announced new port security initiatives and investments.
Funding includes the second phase of the Container Security Initiative (CSI), $170 million in port security grants, and $58 million in funding for Operation Safe Commerce.
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) welcomed the DHS announcement naming recipients of $245 million in federal grants for security enhancements at U.S. ports and related maritime facilities. An additional $58 million was also announced for Operation Safe Commerce. The grant program drew applications from port facilities nationwide requesting a total of $996.8 million to fund 1,380 security projects, such as improved surveillance systems, advanced training programs for security personnel, structures to better restrict facility access and many other measures to improve maritime security.
"Federal help is critical to America's ports as they partner with federal agencies to address the country's heightened security concerns," said AAPA President Kurt Nagle. "Today's funding assistance is most welcome and needed to help security enhancements be made in a timely fashion. But given the high level of need, we encourage the Administration and Congress to provide additional funding as soon as possible."
The Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) $170 million of the $245 million in FY '03 funds released today follows a first round of $92.3 million in FY '02 funding appropriated for U.S. port facilities security last year. Today's $245 million announcement also included $75 million in funding for port security projects in urban areas. An additional $125 million in FY '02 funds that were appropriated for ports will be obligated this summer. AAPA urges this funding be made available quickly to set important security projects in motion.
The Container Security Initiative, an existing Department of Homeland Security program incorporating side by side teamwork with foreign port authorities to identify, target, and search high-risk cargo, will now be expanded to strategic locations beyond the initial 20 major ports to include areas of the Middle East such as Dubai as well as Turkey and Malaysia.
"The Container Security Initiative has emerged as a formidable tool for protecting us from the threat of terrorism," said Secretary Ridge. "Now that we have almost achieved our goal for CSI at nearly all of the top 20 ports, we will be expanding CSI to other ports that ship substantial amounts of cargo to the United States and that have the infrastructure and technology in place to participate in the program."
The top 20 ports account for 68 percent of all cargo containers arriving at U.S. seaports. Governments representing 19 of these ports have agreed to implement CSI during the first phase including an agreement with the government of Thailand for the Port of Laem Chabang that was signed by Secretary Ridge and Thailand's Foreign Minister on June 11. Phase 2 of CSI will enable the Department to extend port security protection from 68 percent of container traffic to more than 80 percent -- casting the safety net of CSI far and wide. Secretary Ridge announced the Department's commitment to enhancing security at our nation's key ports and facilities though $170 million dollars in port security grants.
The Port Security Grant Program funds security planning and projects to improve dockside and perimeter security. The latest round of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) grants have been awarded to 199 state and local governments, and private companies for $170 million (Attachment A). These new awards will contribute to important security upgrades like new patrol boats in the harbor, surveillance equipment at roads and bridges, and the construction of new command and control facilities. TSA, the United States Coast
Guard and the Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration evaluated the Port Security Grant applications and selected grant award recipients. In 2002, $92 million was awarded in the first round of Port Security grants.
In addition to the $170 million, the Department of Homeland Security also
provided $75 million in port security grants for specific projects from the FY '03 supplemental budget. The funds will be distributed by the Office for Domestic Preparedness to cover recent infrastructure security protective measures, security enhancements, training, exercises, equipment, planning, and information sharing (Attachment B).
As part of the Department's effort to secure cargo as it moves though the port, Secretary Ridge announced $58 million in funding for Operation Safe Commerce, a pilot program in coordination with the Department of Transportation that brings together private business, ports, local, state, and federal representatives to analyze current security procedures for cargo entering the country. The program's objective is to prompt research and development for emerging technology to monitor the movement and ensure the security and integrity of containers through the supply chain. The ports of Seattle and Tacoma, Los Angeles and Long Beach, and the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey are participating in the pilot program.
For a complete listing of the grants awarded, visit: http://www.tsa.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/Grantspreadsheet.doc>