Port Security:

Nation Faces Formidable Challenges in Making New Initiatives Successful

GAO-02-993T: Published: Aug 5, 2002. Publicly Released: Aug 5, 2002.

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Although most of the attention following the September 11 terrorist attacks focused on airport security, an increasing emphasis has since been placed on ports. Ports are inherently vulnerable to terrorist attacks because of their size, generally open accessibility by water and land, metropolitan area location, the amount of material being transported through ports, and the ready transportation links to many locations within the country's borders. Since September 11, federal, state, and local authorities, and private sector stake holders have addressed vulnerabilities in the security of the nation's ports. The Coast Guard has acted as a focal point for assessing and addressing security concerns, anticipating many of the requirements that Congress and the administration are contemplating or have already put into place. Although the proposal to consolidate the federal agencies responsible for border security may offer some long-term benefits, overcoming three challenges will be key to successfully enhancing security at the nation's ports: standards, funding, and collaboration.

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