The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has identified nearly $4 billion in "crucial" port and supply chain security needs over the next decade, according to a new report.
In its "The State of Freight" report, AAPA recommends refocusing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) to better meet the security infrastructure needs of publicly-owned commercial seaports and related maritime operations. This includes funding an estimated $2.62 billion in maintenance and upgrades to port security equipment and systems, and another $1.27 billion for investments to tackle cybersecurity, active shooter, drone mitigation, resiliency and other evolving security threats.
Currently, the U.S. government invests $100 million annually in the PSGP to protect resources that account for more than a quarter of the American economy, which is the annual value of cargo and passenger activities attributed to the nation’s ports, said AAPA. While the return on investment is impressive, security challenges at ports keep changing. Since the grant program was initially authorized after 9/11, America’s population has increased about 15 percent, with a pronounced population shift to metropolitan areas, and in many cases near port authority freight and passenger facilities. By the end of 2017, container volumes through the facilities had increased 71 percent and total foreign trade tonnage had increased 37 percent, while cruise passenger traffic nearly doubled.
AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle said: “In The State of Freight IV, we took a deep-dive to better understand the future security challenges of U.S. ports, the communities that surround them and the supply chains that serve them. Not only did we find that Port Security Grant Program appropriations need to increase four-fold to $400 million a year, but the ratio of grant funds going to ports needs to at least double to 50 percent to properly mitigate for security threats. Protecting our nation’s seaports against terrorism and other security threats helps ensure safe and reliable goods movement, which is critical to our economy. However, in recent years, nearly two-thirds of Port Security Grant Program funding has been spent on training and equipping first responders, and on improving response capabilities. What’s needed now is a shift to more investments in maritime domain awareness, including prevention and protection measures. The results of this survey make the case that the focus of, and resources for, addressing maritime security challenges should revert to public port authorities, which would increase partnership opportunities between ports and their maritime stakeholders. That was the original intent of the Port Security Grant Program.”