Summary: This GAO report analyses the progress the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made in maritime supply chain security over the past five to ten years. The report raises problems that the DHS and its component agencies – the Coast Guard and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – have encountered regarding improvement of risk management, reduction of the vulnerability to threats of small vessels, implementation of security assessment in foreign ports, and the overall progress in supply chain security. The report states that so far the Coast Guard has carried out risk assessments, but their results do not allow effective comparison and prioritization of risks across ports. The Coast guard has also identified points of vulnerability related to waterside attacks by small vessels, reached out to the general public to encourage recreational sailors to report anomalies, started tracking of small vessel, tested equipment to screen small vessels for nuclear material and conducted security maneuvers such as vessel escorts. Nevertheless, resource constraints and technical problems prevent the Coast Guard to protect the US coastline and maritime infrastructure from small-vessel threats effectively. Moreover, the Coast Guard has been assessing security in foreign ports, but the lack of the agency’s resources and certain countries’ reluctance to collaborate with the US authorities have slowed down the global security assessment. Finally, as for the general supply chain security, the DHS has been running the Secure Freight Initiative (SFI) in foreign ports to test the feasibility of the 100% scanning of US-bound shipping containers with non-intrusive inspection (NII) technologies and radiation detection equipment. The findings of the SFI pilots indicate that the 100% scanning is not a feasible policy because it would disrupt port logistics, damage international trade and raise healthy concerns, among other things. The report is available for download at: www.gao.gov/assets/660/659087.pdf.
Full review: This GAO review concentrates on the US maritime supply chain security. The document provides important information for people who are working for the CORE demonstrations of WP1 and WP14 because these demos involve maritime transportation into and from the US mainland. Those demonstrations that test tracking & tracking solutions might benefit from the document’s update on small-vessel identification and tracking systems.
- Coast Guard: Deployable Operations Group Achieving Organizational Benefits, but Challenges Remain. GAO-10-433R. Washington, D.C.: April 7, 2010.
- Supply Chain Security: Feasibility and Cost-Benefit Analysis Would Assist DHS and Congress in Assessing and Implementing the Requirement to Scan 100 Percent of U.S.-Bound Containers. GAO-10-12. Washington, D.C.: October 30, 2009.
- Maritime Security: The SAFE Port Act: Status and Implementation One Year Later. GAO-08-126T. Washington, D.C.: October 30, 2007.
- Maritime Security: Vessel Tracking Systems Provide Key Information, but the Need for Duplicate Data Should Be Reviewed. GAO-09-337. Washington, D.C.: March 17, 2009.
- Supply Chain Security: Challenges to Scanning 100 Percent of U.S.-Bound Cargo Containers. GAO-08-533T. Washington, D.C., June 12, 2008.
Additional keywords: Maritime security, supply chain security, 100% scanning and track & trace