Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, released the statement below following a hearing convened by the Subcommittee to examine the proposed FY2009 budget and institutional management practices of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC):
“Our nation’s maritime industry requires a Federal Maritime Commission that can move quickly to analyze critical regulatory issues and render fair and impartial decisions. I am deeply concerned that the four individuals serving as Commissioners of the FMC are not effectively working together to manage its business and reach this end.
“Clearly, there will be challenges present in any agency with a vacancy in the position of its Chairman, but the testimony of the FMC Commissioners today suggests that these individuals do not have visibility over all of the decisions made in their names and have not made the commitment necessary to exercise their shared duties in a responsible manner.
“As federal employees and public servants, it is imperative that the Commissioners be present at the FMC to fully understand the workings of the agency and make informed decisions about both the management of the Commission and the regulation of the maritime industry. Yet, it appears that these individuals have been absent from their posts for significant periods of time. Furthermore, the FMC, as a federal agency, must include regular, public meetings to discuss the critical issues confronted by our maritime industry.
“The Commissioners promised during today’s hearing to present the Subcommittee with an update in two months outlining steps they have taken to ensure that the FMC is prepared to serve its regulatory function and that the Commission’s administration is effectively managed to create an organization that can attract and retain qualified staff. I look forward to receiving this update along with concrete evidence of progress. Our Subcommittee expects—and our nation’s maritime industry deserves—significant improvements in the FMC’s operations.”