Portland, Maine and Charleston, South Carolina USA


The US General Accounting Office (GAO) released a report in late November on efforts to increase the resilience of ports and other infrastructure. The report, Critical Infrastructure Protection: An Implementation Strategy Could Advance DHS’s Coordination of Resilience Efforts across Ports and Other Infrastructure (GAO-13-11) is accessible by going to and clicking on “view report”. The new report looks at DHS plans for enhancing critical infrastructure resilience, and the extent to which Coast Guard and the Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP) are working with port stakeholders, and each other, to enhance resilience at ports. This report is the second part of a two-part effort by GAO to examine the issues of recovery and resilience in ports. In April of this year, GAO issued the first part, Maritime Security: Coast Guard Efforts to Address Port Recovery and Salvage Response (GAO-12-494R), which can be accessed at .

GAO found that Coast Guard and IP work directly with asset owners and operators to address some aspects of maritime infrastructure resilience. In particular, the Coast Guard works with these stakeholders through mechanisms such as area maritime security committees, port-wide plans, facility security plan reviews, port security exercises, and a risk-based decision support tool for assessing and managing maritime infrastructure risk (the Maritime Security Risk Analysis Model, or MSRAM). Similarly, IP, while not focused on port or maritime assets, assists asset owners and operators to understand their own level of resilience through the vulnerability assessments and security surveys mentioned above, and also assess vulnerability and resilience of infrastructure “clusters” and systems in various regions of the nation through its Regional Resilience Assessment Program (RRAP). However, neither of these components’ efforts focus exclusively on assessing the resilience of a port as a whole. The GAO reports there could be benefits to a collaborative effort between the Coast Guard and IP to assess portwide resilience—leveraging tools and assessment approaches developed by either component, which could include MSRAM and the RRAP. GAO recommended that IP and Coast Guard collaborate to leverage existing tools and resources to conduct assessments of portwide resilience. DHS concurred with these recommendations.

In October, the GAO released a report on CBP’s efforts to target high-risk containers using the Automated Targeting System (ATS). The report, Supply Chain Security: CBP Needs to Conduct Regular Assessments of Its Cargo Targeting System (GAO-13-9) is accessible by going to and clicking on “view report.” The new report examines how ATS supports CBP’s process for targeting cargo containers for national security and the extent to which CBP assesses the effectiveness of ATS. This report is the latest in a series of GAO reports on CBP’s targeting efforts (GAO-06-591T, GAO-04-557T) and related supply chain security issues (GAO-12-422T, GAO-10-841, GAO-10-12).

ATS is the cornerstone of targeting efforts that underlie CBP’s layered security strategy for maritime cargo containers. In light of the challenges to implementing the legislatively mandated 100 percent scanning of inbound containers, DHS has stated that it plans to continue relying on existing programs that enhance cargo security. Therefore, the overall effectiveness of CBP’s strategy for securing maritime cargo containers depends largely on the effectiveness of ATS. They also found that CBP’s efforts to assess the effectiveness of national security targeting rules within ATS have been limited. For example, although CBP developed performance measures to assess these targeting rules, CBP has not used its existing performance measures to evaluate changes to the rules over time. Specifically, prior to implementing a recent update to ATS, CBP did not calculate the performance measures for the updated version of the rules to compare it against the performance measures for the preceding version. As such, CBP does not have reasonable assurance that the updated version is more effective. While CBP did an impact assessment of the update, the assessment focused only on the impact of the changes on CBP staff workload, it did not address the impact of the update on accuracy—that is, whether the changes to the targeting rules were better at identifying national security risks. In addition, CBP has not established targets for its performance measures or conducted regular assessments using these performance measures to determine when updates are needed. While GAO reported in 2006 that CBP intended to establish targets for the performance measures to assess future performance of ATS, CBP never established such targets. A CBP analysis of effectiveness found that ATS accurately identified about 6% of incoming containers as high risk (meaning that ATS categorized 94% of containers that potentially carried a national security threat as either medium or low risk). Because CBP did not establish performance targets, it is not clear whether 6% is sufficiently low to suggest that changes are needed to improve the performance of ATS. Also, while CBP officials cited responsibilities to assess ATS performance on a quarterly basis, they have not done so. Thus, for up to 18 months, CBP was unable to determine how ATS was performing—and thus whether further changes were warranted. To correct these deficiencies, GAO recommended that CBP (1) ensure that future updates to the targeting rules are based on the results of assessments and (2) establish targets for its performance measures and use those to assess the effectiveness of the targeting rules on a regular basis. DHS concurred with these recommendations.

For additional information contact: Contact: Stephen L. Caldwell, Director, Maritime Security and Coast Guard Issues, Homeland Security and Justice Team, US Government Accountability Office, (202) 512-9610.


USCG/MTSA2012: The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012 (HR 2838) was sent to the President after passing both chambers. The bill includes:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Process Reform (Sec. 709): Within 270 days of enactment, the TWIC process for enrollment, activation, issuance and renewal will require not more than one in-person visit to a designated enrollment center.

United States Committee on the Marine Transportation System (CMTS) (Sec. 310): Established CMTS as a federal interagency coordinating committee to assess adequacy of the MTS, promote integration with other modes of transportation and coordinate and make recommendations with regard to federal policies impacting the MTS. Committee members are listed by title, and the chair will rotate annually among the Secretaries of Transportation, Defense and Homeland Security. The CMTS already exists through Executive order, and this action would make it a permanent entity.

Department of Defense (DoD) National Strategic Ports Study and Controller General Studies and Reports on Strategic Ports (Sec. 413):

The Controller General shall assess the report within 90 days to and conduct a study of DoD efforts relating to strategic ports and report to the House and Senate Armed Services committees.

Short Sea Transportation (Sec. 405):

The Department of Transportation Short Sea Shipping program and designated short sea transportation projects can now address promotion of short sea transportation in addition to landside congestion.


A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from marine operators for the New England Marine Highway Project. A copy of the RFP is attached.

My apologies to our Canadian Port folks-this is mostly about US activities BUT, keep an eye on the Container Scanning and MTSA 2012 items. I am sure we will have additional news in the future regarding Canada.

Next NMSAC meeting is in February or March and we will be discussing RPM's, Short Sea Shipping Alternatives for Hazardous Cargo, Security Grant Funding and Cyber Security.


DHS-NMSAC is looking for your insights and feedback on Cyber Security. What are you major concerns and how are you addressing them. Please e-mail me back with your feedback for our next meeting. As NMSAC Chair I guarantee your thoughts will be noted.

My best wishes for Happy Holy-days to all.



Capt. Jeffrey W. Monroe, MM, MTM, CPE
Senior Transportation and Maritime Consultant
11 Katahdin Road, Portland, Maine 04107-2828 USA
A Maine DOT Certified DBE Firm
O: 207-741-7000
C: 207-615-7989


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