Hearing on Implementation of the SAFE Port Act

Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The Subcommittee on Border, Maritime & Global Counterterrorism of the House Committee on Homeland Security conducted an oversight hearing on Implementation of the SAFE Port Act. In his prepared statement, Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) noted that the transportation worker identification credential (TWIC) program and the container security device regulations are far behind schedule. Subcommittee Chair Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) expressed her interest in the C-TPAT third party validator pilot program, the empty container security pilot program, long range vessel tracking, and the TWIC program. Ms. Maurine Fanguy, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), discussed recent progress in implementation of the TWIC program. Captain Francis Sturm, USCG, discussed Coast Guard efforts to implement the SAFE Port Act, including salvage response plans, unannounced inspections, port security training and exercises, and foreign port assessments. Mr. Thomas Winkowski, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), discussed the Container Security Initiative, the Secure Freight Initiative, and the Automated Targeting System, among other things. Mr. Vayl Oxford, Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, discussed deployment of radiation portal monitors at US ports of entry. Mr. Stephen Caldwell, Government Accountability Office, explained that the various federal agencies have made progress in implementing the SAFE Port Act, but that numerous challenges remain. Mr. Lindsay McLaughlin, International Longshore & Warehouse Union, complained that maritime employees will be disqualified from obtaining TWIC cards due to poor government records and consideration of inappropriate factors. Mr. Robert Blanchet, Teamster Port Representative, expressed his concern about the challenges to security presented by truck driver turnover and the lack of card readers. Mr. Christopher Koch, World Shipping Council, discussed a variety of maritime security issues, but focused on problems raised by the legislative mandate that, within five years, 100% of the containers being shipping to the United States are to be scanned for radiation threats. Ms. Mary Alexander, Joint Industry Group, expressed the view that efforts to increase supply chain security must take into account the need for the continued free flow of commerce. Mr. Wade Battles, Port of Houston Authority, suggested some modifications to improve the port security grant program and discussed the innovative Ship Channel Security District. (HK Law)
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