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Testimony before the Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global 
Counterterrorism; Committee on Homeland Security; House of 


For Release on Delivery Expected at 2:00 p.m. EDT: 

Tuesday, October 30, 2007: 

Maritime Security: 

The SAFE Port Act: Status and Implementation One Year Later: 

Statement of Stephen L. Caldwell, Director: 

Homeland Security and Justice Issues: 


GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-08-126T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on 
Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism; Committee on Homeland 
Security; House of Representatives. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

Because the safety and economic security of the United States depend in 
substantial part on the security of its 361 seaports, the United States 
has a vital national interest in maritime security. The Security and 
Accountability for Every Port Act (SAFE Port Act), modified existing 
legislation and created and codified new programs related to maritime 
security. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its U.S. Coast 
Guard, Transportation Security Administration, and U.S. Customs and 
Border Protection have key maritime security responsibilities. This 
testimony synthesizes the results of GAO’s completed work and 
preliminary observations from GAO’s ongoing work related to the SAFE 
Port Act pertaining to (1) overall port security, (2) security at 
individual facilities, and (3) cargo container security. To perform 
this work GAO visited domestic and overseas ports; reviewed agency 
program documents, port security plans, and post-exercise reports; and 
interviewed officials from the federal, state, local, private, and 
international sectors. 

What GAO Found: 

Federal agencies have improved overall port security efforts by 
establishing committees to share information with local port 
stakeholders, taking steps to establish interagency operations centers 
to monitor port activities, conducting operations such as harbor 
patrols and vessel escorts, writing port-level plans to prevent and 
respond to terrorist attacks, testing such plans through exercises, and 
assessing the security at foreign ports. However, these agencies face 
resource constraints and other challenges trying to meet the SAFE Port 
Act’s requirements to expand these activities. For example, the Coast 
Guard faces budget constraints in trying to expand its current command 
centers and include other agencies at the centers. 

Similarly, private facilities and federal agencies have taken action to 
improve security at about 3,000 individual facilities by writing 
facility-specific security plans, inspecting facilities to determine 
compliance with their plans, and developing special identification 
cards for workers to help prevent terrorists from getting access to 
secure areas. Federal agencies face challenges trying to meet the act’s 
requirements to expand the scope or speed the implementation of such 
activities. For example, the Transportation Security Administration 
missed the act’s deadline to implement the identification card program 
at 10 selected ports because of delays in testing equipment and 

Federal programs related to the security of cargo containers have also 
improved as agencies are enhancing systems to identify high-risk cargo, 
expanding partnerships with other countries to screen containers before 
they depart for the United States, and working with international 
organizations to develop a global framework for container security. 
Federal agencies face challenges implementing container security 
aspects of the SAFE Port Act and other legislation. For example, 
Customs and Border Protection must test and implement a new program to 
scan 100 percent of all incoming containers overseas—a departure from 
its existing risk-based programs. 

Figure: Ports contain a wide variety of activities and infrastructures: 

This figure is a photograph of a port. 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: United States Coast Guard. 

[End of figure] 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO has made recommendations to DHS to develop strategic plans, better 
plan the use of its human capital, establish performance measures, and 
otherwise improve program operations. DHS has generally concurred with 
our recommendations and is making progress implementing them. We 
provided a draft of this information to DHS agencies and incorporated 
technical comments as appropriate. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
[hyperlink, http://www.GAO-08-126T]. For more information, contact 
Stephen Caldwell (202) 512- 9610 or 

[End of section] 

Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I am pleased to be here today to discuss port and cargo security 
functions related to provisions of the Security and Accountability for 
Every Port Act (SAFE Port Act).[Footnote 1] The nation's 361 seaports 
are the gateway for more than 80 percent of our foreign trade. 
Worldwide, some 30 large ports, spread across North America, Asia, and 
Europe constitute the world's primary, interdependent trading web. Much 
of this trade--particularly high-value cargo--enters and leaves in 
cargo containers. 

In our post 9/11 environment, however, the potential security 
weaknesses presented by these economic gateways have become apparent. 
Sprawling, easily accessible by water and land, often close to urban 
areas, and containing facilities that represent opportunities for 
inflicting significant damage as well as for causing economic mayhem, 
ports present potential terrorist targets. Further, they are potential 
conduits for weapons prepared elsewhere and concealed in cargo designed 
to move quickly to many locations beyond the ports themselves. 

Since the 9/11 attacks, Congress has established a new port security 
framework--much of which was set in place by the Maritime 
Transportation Security Act (MTSA).[Footnote 2] Enacted in November 
2002, MTSA was designed, in part, to help protect the nation's ports 
and waterways from terrorist attacks by requiring a wide range of 
security improvements. Among the major requirements included in MTSA 
were (1) conducting vulnerability assessments for port facilities and 
vessels; (2) developing security plans to mitigate identified risks for 
the national maritime system, ports, port facilities, and vessels; (3) 
developing the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), 
a biometric identification card to help restrict access to secure areas 
to only authorized personnel; and (4) establishing of a process to 
assess foreign ports, from which vessels depart on voyages to the 
United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)--itself a 
creation of the new security environment brought on by the 9/11 
attacks--administers much of this framework, which also attempts to 
balance security priorities with the need to facilitate legitimate 

The SAFE Port Act, which was enacted in October 2006, is one of the 
latest additions to this port security framework. The act made a number 
of adjustments to programs within this framework, creating additional 
programs or lines of effort and altering others. The SAFE Port Act 
created and codified new programs and initiatives, and amended some of 
the original provisions of MTSA. The SAFE Port Act included provisions 
that (1) codified the Container Security Initiative (CSI) and the 
Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), two programs 
administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to help reduce 
threats associated with cargo shipped in containers, as well as 
established the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), which is 
responsible for conducting research, development, testing, and 
evaluation of radiation detection equipment; (2) required interagency 
operational centers where agencies organize to fit the security needs 
of the port area at selected ports; (3) set an implementation schedule 
and fee restrictions for TWIC; (4) required that all containers 
entering high-volume U.S. ports be scanned for radiation sources by 
December 31, 2007; and (5) required additional data be made available 
to CBP for targeting cargo containers for inspection.[Footnote 3] This 
statement summarizes our recently completed and ongoing work. 

Over the past several years, we have examined and reported on many of 
the programs in this new port security framework. This statement is 
designed both to provide an overview of what we have earlier reported 
about these programs and to describe, with the preliminary information 
available, what DHS is doing as a result of the SAFE Port Act 
requirements and the challenges the agency faces in doing so. This 
statement discusses three key areas and 19 programs, as shown in table 

Table 1: Summary of Three Key Areas and 19 Programs in This Statement: 

Program: Overall port security: Area Maritime Security Committees; 
Description: Committees consisting of key port stakeholders who share 
information and develop port security plans. 

Program: Overall port security: Interagency Operational Centers; 
Description: Command centers where agencies share information, 
coordinate their activities, and coordinate joint efforts. 

Program: Overall port security: Port security operations; 
Description: Activities to maintain security and deter attacks, such as 
boat patrols and vessel escorts. 

Program: Overall port security: Area Maritime Security Plans; 
Description: Plan laying out local port vulnerabilities, 
responsibilities, and some response actions. 

Program: Overall port security: Port security exercises; 
Description: Exercises among various port stakeholders to test the 
effectiveness of port security plans. 

Program: Overall port security: Evaluations of security at foreign 
Description: Coast Guard program where officers visit and assess 
security conditions at foreign ports. 

Program: Port facility security: Port facility security plans; 
Description: Plans that include, among other things, operational and 
physical security measures and procedures for responding to security 

Program: Port facility security: Port facility security compliance 
Description: Coast Guard review of port facility security plans and 
compliance with such plans. 

Program: Port facility security: Transportation Worker Identification 
Description: Biometric identification cards to be issued to port 
workers to help secure access to areas of ports. 

Program: Port facility security: Background checks; 
Description: DHS requirements for persons who enter secure or 
restricted areas or transport hazardous cargo. 

Program: Container security: Automated Targeting System; 
Description: Risk-based decision system to determine cargo shipped in 
containers requiring inspection. 

Program: Container security: Customs In-Bond System; 
Description: The in-bond system allows goods to transit the United 
States without officially entering U.S. commerce. 

Program: Container security: Container Security Initiative; 
Description: Stationing CBP officers at foreign ports to help identify 
and inspect high-risk cargo to be shipped in containers destined for 
the United States. 

Program: Container security: Customs-Trade Partnership Against 
Description: Partnership between private companies and CBP to improve 
international supply chain security. 

Program: Container security: Promoting Global Standards; 
Description: Efforts to work with members of the customs and trade 
community on approaches to standardizing supply chain security. 

Program: Container security: Domestic Nuclear Detection Office; 
Description: Research, development, testing and evaluation of radiation 
detection equipment to prevent nuclear or radiological materials from 
entering the United States. 

Program: Container security: Megaports Initiative; 
Description: Radiation detection technology at foreign ports to stop 
the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. 

Program: Container security: Secure Freight Initiative; 
Description: Combines Container Security Initiative scanning with 
Megaports Initiative radiation detection at foreign ports. 

Program: Container security: 100 Percent Container Scanning at Foreign 
Description: Scanning by nonintrusive imaging and radiation detection 
equipment of all cargo containers at foreign ports inbound to the 
United States by 2012. 

Source: GAO. 

[End of table] 

This statement is organized into three key areas, as follows: 

* programs related to overall port security, such as those for 
coordinating among stakeholders, conducting security operations, 
developing security plans, and conducting exercises to test security 

* programs related specifically to security at individual facilities, 
such as examining security measures and ensuring that only properly 
cleared individuals have access to port areas; and, 

* programs related specifically to cargo container security, such as 
screening containers at ports both here and abroad and forming 
partnerships with the private sector. 

This statement is based primarily on a body of work we completed in 
response to congressional requests and mandates for analysis of 
maritime, port, and cargo security efforts of the federal 
government.[Footnote 4] In some cases, we provide preliminary 
observations from our ongoing work. Thus, the timeliness of the data 
that were the basis for our prior reporting varies depending on when 
our products were issued, and the preliminary observations are subject 
to change as we complete our work. 

We conducted all of our work in accordance with generally accepted 
government auditing standards. To perform both our completed and 
ongoing work, we visited several domestic and overseas ports; reviewed 
agency program documents, port security plans, and post-exercise 
reports, and other documents; and interviewed officials from the 
federal, state, local, private, and international sectors. The 
officials were from a wide variety of port stakeholders to include 
Coast Guard, CBP, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), port 
authorities, terminal operators, vessel operators, foreign governments, 
and international organizations. While this body of work does not cover 
all the provisions of the SAFE Port Act, it does cover a wide range of 
these provisions, as shown in table 1. 

We provided a draft of the information in this testimony to DHS. DHS 
provided technical comments, which we incorporated as appropriate. 


Regarding overall security at U.S. ports, federal agencies have taken a 
number of steps to improve maritime security and implement many aspects 
of MTSA. The Coast Guard has established Area Maritime Security 
Committees (AMSC) to coordinate activities and share information among 
the various stakeholders at specific ports. The Coast Guard also has 
local operations centers where it coordinates its activities. The SAFE 
Port Act requires that all high-priority ports have interagency 
operational centers no later than 3 years after the act's 
enactment.[Footnote 5] Given the capabilities and organization of its 
existing centers, the Coast Guard estimates it will cost $260 million 
to meet this requirement and has begun evaluating ways to expand 
current centers to meet the act's requirements. The Coast Guard also 
conducts a number of operations at U.S. ports to deter and prevent 
terrorist attacks, such as harbor patrols or vessel escorts. While the 
Coast Guard has set specific requirements for the level of these 
activities, it is not always able to complete them at some ports due to 
resource constraints. The Coast Guard, in collaboration with the MTSA- 
required AMSCs, has written port-specific security plans to deter and 
respond to terrorist attacks--but these plans do not fully address 
recovery issues (e.g., how to reopen a port after an attack) and 
natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes or earthquakes). The Coast Guard, 
again in collaboration with the AMSCs, has sponsored exercises to test 
the port security plans. But the Coast Guard will face challenges, such 
as including recovery scenarios and expanding the program in line with 
SAFE Port Act requirements to include new scenarios and improve the 
communication of lessons learned during exercises. Finally, security in 
our own ports is dependent on security in foreign ports where vessels 
depart for the United States. The Coast Guard has implemented a MTSA- 
required program to work with foreign countries to inspect and 
strengthen security at their ports, but will likely face challenges in 
hiring and training sufficient staff to meet SAFE Port Act requirements 
to increase the frequency of such inspections. A related challenge is 
that many of the foreign countries that the Coast Guard has visited--to 
include several countries in the Caribbean Basin--are poor and lack the 
resources to make major improvements on their own. 

Regarding security at approximately 3,000 individual facilities, 
federal agencies and the facilities themselves have taken positive 
steps. In line with MTSA, facilities have written and implemented 
security plans, and the Coast Guard has generally inspected such 
facilities to verify compliance and take enforcement actions where 
necessary. The SAFE Port Act increased requirements for the scope and 
frequency of these activities, doubling the frequency of Coast Guard 
inspections of facilities and requiring unannounced inspections. The 
Coast Guard has issued guidance on how the new requirements are to be 
met, but the impact on resource needs remains uncertain. To control 
access to individual facilities at ports, MTSA required a program to 
develop secure and biometric transportation worker identification 
credentials (TWIC). Under the program, transportation workers would 
have to undergo background checks to receive TWIC cards. The SAFE Port 
Act established a July 1, 2007 milestone for the implementation of the 
TWIC program at the 10 highest risk ports. The Transportation Security 
Administration (TSA), the agency responsible for implementing TWIC, did 
not meet the July deadline because the agency and the TWIC enrollment 
contractor needed to conduct additional tests of the software and 
equipment that will be used to enroll and issue cards to workers to 
ensure that they work effectively before implementation. Finally, while 
DHS has created the Screening Coordination Office (SCO) to better 
coordinate TWIC with other programs that require background checks, it 
will be challenged to fully coordinate all the DHS screening programs, 
ensuring that the cost and benefits of potentially eliminating or 
keeping different screening programs are properly considered, and 
coordinating with other federal screening programs outside DHS. 

Regarding the security of cargo containers--which carry a large volume 
of the world's commerce through our ports--CBP has developed a layered 
security strategy to identify and inspect containers that may contain 
terrorist weapons of mass destruction (WMD). CBP has refined its 
Automated Targeting System (ATS) to better analyze shipping information 
and identify suspicious containers. However, it does not have the most 
up-to-date information for certain containers--those that transit 
beyond the ports as part of the in-bond system, which allows goods to 
transit the United States without officially entering U.S. commerce. 
CBP has expanded and improved the management of its Container Security 
Initiative (CSI), where the agency places U.S. customs officials in 
foreign ports to help target and inspect suspicious containers. 
Similarly, CBP has expanded and improved the management of its Customs- 
Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), where private companies 
agree to improve the security of their supply chains in exchange for 
reduced scrutiny over their shipments. The SAFE Port Act codified these 
two programs into law and required enhanced management and oversight of 
these programs. CBP is working to meet these new requirements, but our 
prior and ongoing work suggests that it may face challenges setting 
equipment standards and conducting validations of company practices. 
Furthermore, our work has shown that the Domestic Nuclear Detection 
Office (DNDO) needs to take additional action to ensure adequate 
testing of radiation detection equipment that CBP uses at domestic 
ports to scan containers for radiation. The Department of Energy (DOE) 
is expanding its Megaports program that complements CSI by providing 
foreign nations with radiation detection equipment to scan containers 
moving through their ports. The SAFE Port Act also required pilot 
programs to test new technologies or combine existing technologies to 
test the feasibility of scanning all U.S.-bound containers overseas. 
More recent legislation required that all containers bound for the 
United States is scanned overseas by 2012, with possible extensions for 
individual ports. Our preliminary observations suggest this requirement 
potentially creates new challenges for CBP in terms of integrating this 
with existing programs, working with foreign governments, overcoming 
logistical barriers, testing new technology, determining resource 
requirements and responsibilities, and other issues. 

We have reviewed many of the MTSA-and SAFE Port Act-related programs 
and made prior recommendations to the appropriate agencies to develop 
strategic plans, better plan their use of human capital, establish 
performance measures, and otherwise improve the operations of these 
programs. In general, these agencies have concurred with our 
recommendations and are making progress implementing them. 

Prior Actions Have Improved Port Security, but Issues Remain: 

Port security overall has improved because of the development of 
organizations and programs such as AMSCs, Area Maritime Security Plans 
(AMSPs), maritime security exercises, and the International Port 
Security Program, but challenges to successful implementation of these 
efforts remain. Additionally, agencies may face challenges addressing 
the additional requirements directed by the SAFE Port Act, such as a 
provision that DHS establish interagency operational centers at all 
high-priority ports. AMSCs and the Coast Guard's sector command centers 
have improved information sharing, but the types and ways information 
is shared vary.[Footnote 6] AMSPs, limited to security incidents, could 
benefit from unified planning to include an all-hazards approach. 
Maritime security exercises would benefit from timely and complete 
after-action reports, increased collaboration across federal agencies, 
and broader port-level coordination. The Coast Guard's International 
Port Security Program is currently evaluating the antiterrorism 
measures maintained at foreign seaports. 

Area Maritime Security Committees Share Information and Coast Guard 
Plans to Expand Interagency Operational Centers: 

Two main types of forums have developed for agencies to coordinate and 
share information about port security: area committees and Coast Guard 
sector command centers. AMSCs serve as a forum for port stakeholders, 
facilitating the dissemination of information through regularly 
scheduled meetings, issuance of electronic bulletins, and sharing key 
documents. MTSA provided the Coast Guard with the authority to create 
AMSCs--composed of federal, state, local, and industry members--that 
help to develop the AMSP for the port. As of August 2007, the Coast 
Guard had organized 46 AMSCs. Each has flexibility to assemble and 
operate in a way that reflects the needs of its port area, resulting in 
variations in the number of participants, the types of state and local 
organizations involved, and the way in which information is shared. 
Some examples of information shared include assessments of 
vulnerabilities at specific port locations, information about potential 
threats or suspicious activities, and Coast Guard strategies intended 
for use in protecting key infrastructure. As part of an ongoing effort 
to improve its awareness of the maritime domain, the Coast Guard 
developed 35 sector command centers, four of which operate in 
partnership with the U.S. Navy.[Footnote 7] 

We have previously reported that both of these types of forums have 
helped foster cooperation and information sharing.[Footnote 8] We 
further reported that AMSCs provided a structure to improve the 
timeliness, completeness, and usefulness of information sharing between 
federal and nonfederal stakeholders. These committees improved upon 
previous information-sharing efforts because they established a formal 
structure and new procedures for sharing information. In contrast to 
AMSCs, the Coast Guard's sector command centers can provide continuous 
information about maritime activities and involve various agencies 
directly in operational decisions using this information. We have 
reported that these centers have improved information sharing, and the 
types of information and the way information is shared vary at these 
centers depending on their purpose and mission, leadership and 
organization, membership, technology, and resources. 

The SAFE Port Act called for establishment of interagency operational 
centers, directing the Secretary of DHS to establish such centers at 
all high-priority ports no later than 3 years after the act's 
enactment. The act required that the centers include a wide range of 
agencies and stakeholders and carry out specified maritime security 
functions. In addition to authorizing the appropriation of funds and 
requiring DHS to provide Congress a proposed budget and cost-sharing 
analysis for establishing the centers, the act directed the new 
interagency operational centers to utilize the same compositional and 
operational characteristics of existing sector command centers. 
According to the Coast Guard, none of the 35 centers meets the 
requirements set forth in the SAFE Port Act. Nevertheless, the four 
centers the Coast Guard operates in partnership with the Navy are a 
significant step in meeting these requirements, according to a senior 
Coast Guard official. The Coast Guard is currently piloting various 
aspects of future interagency operational centers at existing centers 
and is also working with multiple interagency partners to further 
develop this project.[Footnote 9] DHS has submitted the required budget 
and cost-sharing analysis proposal, which outlines a 5-year plan for 
upgrading its centers into future interagency operations centers to 
continue to foster information sharing and coordination in the maritime 
domain. The Coast Guard estimates the total acquisition cost of 
upgrading 24 sectors that encompass the nation's high-priority ports 
into interagency operations centers will be approximately $260 million, 
to include investments in information system, sensor network, and 
facilities upgrades and expansions. According to the Coast Guard, 
future interagency operations centers will allow the Coast Guard and 
its partners to use port surveillance with joined tactical and 
intelligence information, and share these data with port partners 
working side by side in expanded facilities. 

In our April 2007 testimony, we reported on various challenges the 
Coast Guard faces in its information-sharing efforts.[Footnote 10] 
These challenges include obtaining security clearances for port 
security stakeholders and creating effective working relationships with 
clearly defined roles and responsibilities. In our past work, we found 
the lack of federal security clearances among area committee members 
had been routinely cited as a barrier to information sharing.[Footnote 
11] In turn, this inability to share classified information may limit 
the ability to deter, prevent, and respond to a potential terrorist 
attack. The Coast Guard, having lead responsibility in coordinating 
maritime information, has made improvements to its program for granting 
clearances to area committee members and additional clearances have 
been granted to members with a need to know.[Footnote 12] In addition, 
the SAFE Port Act includes a specific provision requiring DHS to 
sponsor and expedite security clearances for participants in 
interagency operational centers. However, the extent to which these 
efforts will ultimately improve information sharing is not yet known. 
As the Coast Guard expands its relationships with multiple interagency 
partners, collaborating and sharing information effectively under new 
structures and procedures will be important. While some of the existing 
centers achieved results with existing interagency relationships, other 
high-priority ports might face challenges establishing new working 
relationships among port stakeholders and implementing their own 
interagency operational centers. Finally, addressing potential 
overlapping responsibilities --such as leadership roles for the Coast 
Guard and its interagency partners--will be important to ensure that 
actions across the various agencies are clear and coordinated. 

Operations to Provide Overall Port Security Face Resource Constraints: 

As part of its operations, the Coast Guard has also undertaken 
additional activities to provide overall port security. The Coast 
Guard's operations order, Operation Neptune Shield, first released in 
2003, specifies the level of security activities to be conducted. The 
order sets specific activities for each port. However, the amount of 
each activity is established based on the port's specific security 
concerns. Some examples of security activities include conducting 
waterborne security patrols, boarding high-interest vessels, escorting 
vessels into ports, and enforcing fixed security zones. When a port 
security level increases, the amount of activity the Coast Guard must 
conduct also increases.[Footnote 13] The Coast Guard uses monthly field 
unit reports to indicate how many of its security activities it is able 
to perform. Our review of these field unit reports indicates that many 
ports are having difficulty meeting their port security 
responsibilities, with resource constraints being a major factor. In an 
effort to meet more of its security requirements, the Coast Guard uses 
a strategy that includes partnering with other government agencies, 
adjusting its activity requirements, and acquiring resources. Despite 
these efforts, many ports are still having difficulty meeting their 
port security requirements. The Coast Guard is currently studying what 
resources are needed to meet certain aspects of its port security 
program, but to enhance the effectiveness of its port security 
operations, a more comprehensive study to determine all additional 
resources and changes to strategy to meet minimum security requirements 
may be needed. 

Area Maritime Security Plans Are in Place but Need to Address Recovery 
and Natural Disasters: 

Implementing regulations for MTSA specified that AMSPs include, among 
other things, operational and physical security measures in place at 
the port under different security levels, details of the security 
incident command and response structure, procedures for responding to 
security threats including provisions for maintaining operations in the 
port, and procedures to facilitate the recovery of the marine 
transportation system after a security incident. A Coast Guard 
Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) provided a common 
template for AMSPs and specified the responsibilities of port 
stakeholders under them.[Footnote 14] As of September 2007, 46 AMSPs 
are in place at ports around the country. The Coast Guard approved the 
plans by June 1, 2004, and MTSA requires that they be updated at least 
every 5 years. 

The SAFE Port Act added a requirement to AMSPs that specified that they 
include recovery issues by identifying salvage equipment able to 
restore operational trade capacity. This requirement was established to 
ensure that the waterways are cleared and the flow of commerce through 
United States ports is reestablished as efficiently and quickly as 
possible after a security incident. While the Coast Guard sets out the 
general priorities for recovery operations in its guidelines for the 
development of AMSPs, we have found that this guidance offers limited 
instruction and assistance for developing procedures to address 
recovery situations. 

The Maritime Infrastructure Recovery Plan (MIRP) recognizes the limited 
nature of the Coast Guard's guidance and notes the need to further 
develop recovery aspects of the AMSPs.[Footnote 15] The MIRP provides 
specific recommendations for developing the recovery sections of the 
AMSPs. The AMSPs that we reviewed often lacked recovery specifics, and 
none had been updated to reflect the recommendations made in the MIRP. 
The Coast Guard is currently updating the guidance for the AMSPs and 
aims to complete the updates by the end of calendar year 2007 so that 
the guidance will be ready for the mandatory 5-year re-approval of the 
AMSPs in 2009. Coast Guard officials commented that any changes to the 
recovery section would need to be consistent with the national 
protocols developed for the SAFE Port Act.[Footnote 16] Additionally, 
related to recovery planning, the Coast Guard and CBP have developed 
specific interagency actions focused on response and recovery. This 
should provide the Coast Guard and CBP with immediate security options 
for the recovery of ports and commerce. 

Further, AMSPs generally do not address natural disasters (i.e., they 
do not have an all-hazards approach).[Footnote 17] In a March 2007 
report examining how ports are dealing with planning for natural 
disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes, we noted that AMSPs cover 
security issues but not other issues that could have a major impact on 
a port's ability to support maritime commerce.[Footnote 18] As 
currently written, AMSPs are concerned with deterring and, to a lesser 
extent, responding to security incidents. We found, however, that 
unified consideration of all risks--natural and man-made--faced by a 
port may be beneficial. Because of the similarities between the 
consequences of terrorist attacks and natural or accidental disasters, 
much of the planning for protection, response, and recovery 
capabilities is similar across all emergency events. Combining 
terrorism and other threats can thus enhance the efficiency of port 
planning efforts. This approach also allows port stakeholders to 
estimate the relative value of different mitigation alternatives. The 
exclusion of certain risks from consideration, or the separate 
consideration of a particular type of risk, raises the possibility that 
risks will not be accurately assessed or compared, and that too many or 
too few resources will be allocated toward mitigation of a particular 

As ports continue to revise and improve their planning efforts, 
available evidence indicates that by taking a systemwide approach and 
thinking strategically about using resources to mitigate and recover 
from all forms of disaster, ports will be able to achieve the most 
effective results. AMSPs provide a useful foundation for establishing 
an all-hazards approach. While the SAFE Port Act does not call for 
expanding AMSPs in this manner, it does contain a requirement that 
natural disasters and other emergencies be included in the scenarios to 
be tested in the Port Security Exercise Program. On the basis of our 
prior work, we found there are challenges in using AMSCs and AMSPs as 
the basis for broader all-hazards planning. These challenges include 
determining the extent that security plans can serve all-hazards 
purposes. We recommended that DHS encourage port stakeholders to use 
the AMSCs and MTSA-required AMSPs to discuss all-hazards planning. DHS 
concurred with this recommendation. 

Maritime Security Exercises Require a Broader Scope and Participation: 

The Coast Guard Captain of the Port and the AMSC are required by MTSA 
regulations to conduct or participate in exercises to test the 
effectiveness of AMSPs annually, with no more than 18 months between 
exercises. These exercises--which have been conducted for the past 
several years--are designed to continuously improve preparedness by 
validating information and procedures in the area plan, identifying 
weaknesses and strengths, and practicing command and control within an 
incident command/unified command framework. In August 2005, the Coast 
Guard and the TSA initiated the Port Security Training Exercise Program 
(PortSTEP)--an exercise program designed to involve the entire port 
community, including public governmental agencies and private industry, 
and intended to improve connectivity of various surface transportation 
modes and enhance AMSPs. Between August 2005 and October 2007, the 
Coast Guard expected to conduct PortSTEP exercises for 40 area 
committees and other port stakeholders. Additionally, the Coast Guard 
initiated its own Area Maritime Security Training and Exercise Program 
(AMStep) in October 2005. This program was also designed to involve the 
entire port community in the implementation of the AMSP. Between the 
two programs, PortSTEP and AMStep, all AMSCs have received a port 
security exercise each year since inception. 

The SAFE Port Act included several new requirements related to security 
exercises, such as establishing a Port Security Exercise Program to 
test and evaluate the capabilities of governments and port stakeholders 
to prevent, prepare for, mitigate against, respond to, and recover from 
acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and other emergencies at 
facilities that MTSA regulates. The act also required the establishment 
of a port security exercise improvement plan process that would 
identify, disseminate, and monitor the implementation of lessons 
learned and best practices from port security exercises. 

Though we have not specifically examined compliance with these new 
requirements, our work in examining past exercises suggests that 
implementing a successful exercise program faces several 
challenges.[Footnote 19] These challenges include setting the scope of 
the program to determine how exercise requirements in the SAFE Port Act 
differ from area committee exercises that are currently performed. This 
is especially true for incorporating recovery scenarios into exercises. 
In this past work, we also found that Coast Guard terrorism exercises 
frequently focused on prevention and awareness, but often did not 
include recovery activities. According to the Coast Guard, with the 
recent emphasis on planning for recovery operations, it has held 
several exercises over the past year that have either included or 
consisted solely of recovery activities. It will be important that 
future exercises also focus on recovery operations so public and 
private stakeholders can cover gaps that might hinder commerce after a 
port incident. Other long-standing challenges include completing after-
action reports in a timely and thorough manner and ensuring that all 
relevant agencies participate. According to the Coast Guard, as the 
primary sponsor of these programs, it faces a continuing challenge in 
getting comprehensive participation in these exercises. 

The Coast Guard Is Evaluating the Security of Foreign Ports, but Faces 
Resource Challenges: 

The security of domestic ports also depends upon security at foreign 
ports where cargoes bound for the United States originate. To help 
secure the overseas supply chain, MTSA required the Coast Guard to 
develop a program to assess security measures in foreign ports and, 
among other things, recommend steps necessary to improve security 
measures in those ports. The Coast Guard established this program, 
called the International Port Security Program, in April 2004. Under 
this program, the Coast Guard and host nations review the 
implementation of security measures in the host nations' ports against 
established security standards, such as the International Maritime 
Organization's International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) 
Code.[Footnote 20] Coast Guard teams have been established to conduct 
country visits, discuss security measures implemented, and collect and 
share best practices to help ensure a comprehensive and consistent 
approach to maritime security in ports worldwide. The conditions of 
these visits, such as timing and locations, are negotiated between the 
Coast Guard and the host nation. Coast Guard officials also make annual 
visits to the countries to obtain additional observations on the 
implementation of security measures and ensure deficiencies found 
during the country visits are addressed.[Footnote 21] 

Both the SAFE Port Act and other congressional directions have called 
for the Coast Guard to increase the pace of its visits to foreign 
countries. Although MTSA did not set a time frame for completion of 
these visits, the Coast Guard initially set a goal to visit the 
approximately 140 countries that conduct maritime trade with the United 
States by December 2008. In September 2006, the conference report 
accompanying the fiscal year 2007 DHS Appropriations Act directed the 
Coast Guard to "double the amount" of its visits.[Footnote 22] 
Subsequently, in October 2006, the SAFE Port Act required the Coast 
Guard to reassess security measures at the foreign ports every 3 years. 
Coast Guard officials said they will comply with the more stringent 
requirements and will reassess countries on a 2-year cycle. With the 
expedited pace, the Coast Guard now expects to assess all countries by 
March 2008, after which reassessments will begin. 

We are currently conducting a review of the Coast Guard's International 
Port Security Program that evaluates the Coast Guard's implementation 
of international enforcement programs. The report, expected to be 
issued in early 2008, will cover issues related to the program, such as 
the extent to which the program is using a risk-based approach in 
carrying out its work, what challenges the program faces as it moves 
forward, and the extent to which the observations collected during the 
country visits are used by other programs such as the Coast Guard's 
port state control inspections and high-interest vessel boarding 

As of September 2007, the Coast Guard reported that it has visited 109 
countries under this program and plans to visit another 29 more by 
March 2008.[Footnote 23] For the countries for which the Coast Guard 
has issued a final report, the Coast Guard reported that most had 
"substantially implemented the security code," while a few countries 
were found to have not yet implemented the ISPS Code and will be 
subject to a reassessment or other sanctions. The Coast Guard also 
found several facilities needing improvements in areas such as access 
controls, communication devices, fencing, and lighting. 

While our review is still preliminary, Coast Guard officials told us 
that to plan and prepare for the next cycle of reassessments that are 
to begin next year, they are considering modifying their current visit 
methodology to incorporate a risk-based approach to prioritize the 
order and intensity of the next round of country visits. To do this, 
they have consulted with a contractor to develop an updated country 
risk prioritization model. Under the previous model, the priority 
assigned to a country for a visit was weighted heavily toward the 
volume of U.S. trade with that country. The new model being considered 
is to incorporate other factors, such as corruption and terrorist 
activity levels within the countries. Program officials told us that 
the details of this revised approach have yet to be finalized. 

Coast Guard officials told us that as they complete the first round of 
visits and move into the next phase of revisits, challenges still exist 
in implementing the program. One challenge identified was that the 
faster rate at which foreign ports will now be reassessed will require 
hiring and training new staff--a challenge the officials expect will be 
made more difficult because experienced personnel who have been with 
the program since its inception are being transferred to other 
positions as part of the Coast Guard's rotational policy. These 
officials will need to be replaced with newly assigned personnel. 

Reluctance by some countries to allow the Coast Guard to visit their 
ports due to concerns over sovereignty was another challenge cited by 
program officials in completing the first round of visits. According to 
these officials, before permitting Coast Guard officials to visit their 
ports, some countries insisted on visiting and assessing a sample of 
U.S. ports. The Coast Guard was able to accommodate their request 
through the program's reciprocal visit feature in which the Coast Guard 
hosts foreign delegations to visit U.S. ports and observe ISPS Code 
implementation in the United States. This subsequently helped gain the 
cooperation of the countries in hosting a Coast Guard visit to their 
own ports. However, as they begin to revisit countries as part of the 
program's next phase, program officials stated that sovereignty 
concerns may still be an issue. Some countries may be reluctant to host 
a comprehensive country visit on a recurring basis because they believe 
the frequency--once every 2 to 3 years--is too high. Sovereignty also 
affects the conditions of the visits, such as timing and locations, 
because such visits are negotiated between the Coast Guard and the host 
nation. Thus the Coast Guard team making the visit could be precluded 
from seeing locations that are not in compliance. 

Another challenge program officials cite is having limited ability to 
help countries build on or enhance their capacity to implement the ISPS 
Code requirements. For example, the SAFE Port Act required that GAO 
report on various aspects of port security in the Caribbean Basin. We 
earlier reported that although the Coast Guard found that most of the 
countries had substantially implemented the ISPS Code, some facilities 
needed to make improvements or take additional measures.[Footnote 24] 
In addition, our discussions with facility operators and government 
officials in the region indicated that assistance--such as additional 
training--would help enhance their port security. Program officials 
stated that while their visits provide opportunities for them to 
identify potential areas to improve or help sustain the security 
measures put in place, other than sharing best practices or providing 
presentations on security practices, the program does not currently 
have the resources to directly assist countries with more in-depth 
training or technical assistance. To overcome this, program officials 
have worked with other agencies (e.g., the Departments of Defense and 
State) and international organizations (e.g., the Organization of 
American States) to secure funding for training and assistance to 
countries where port security conferences have been held (e.g., the 
Dominican Republic and the Bahamas). Program officials indicated that 
as part of reexamining the approach for the program's next phase, they 
will also consider possibilities to improve the program's ability to 
provide training and capacity building to countries when a need is 

Port Facility Security Efforts Continue, but Additional Evaluation Is 

To improve the security at individual facilities at ports, many long- 
standing programs are under way. However, new challenges to their 
successful implementation have emerged. The Coast Guard is required to 
conduct assessments of security plans and facility compliance 
inspections, but faces challenges in staffing and training to meet the 
SAFE Port Act's additional requirements such as the sufficiency of 
trained personnel and guidance to conduct facility inspections. TSA's 
TWIC program has addressed some of its initial program challenges, but 
will continue to face additional challenges as the program rollout 
continues. Many steps have been taken to ensure that transportation 
workers are properly screened, but redundancies in various background 
checks have decreased efficiency and highlighted the need for increased 

The Coast Guard's Compliance Monitoring of Maritime Facilities 
Identifies Deficiencies, but Program Effectiveness Overall Has Not Been 

MTSA and its implementing regulations required owners and operators of 
certain maritime facilities (e.g., power stations, chemical 
manufacturing facilities, and refineries that are located on waterways 
and receive foreign vessels) to conduct assessments of their security 
vulnerabilities, develop security plans to mitigate these 
vulnerabilities, and implement measures called for in the security 
plans by July 1, 2004. Under the Coast Guard regulations, these plans 
are to include items such as measures for access control, responses to 
security threats, and drills and exercises to train staff and test the 
plan.[Footnote 25] The plans are "performance-based," meaning that the 
Coast Guard has specified the outcomes it is seeking to achieve and has 
given facilities responsibility for identifying and delivering the 
measures needed to achieve these outcomes. 

Under MTSA, Coast Guard guidance calls for the Coast Guard to conduct 
one on-site facility inspection annually to verify continued compliance 
with the plan. The SAFE Port Act, enacted in 2006, required the Coast 
Guard to conduct at least two inspections--one of which was to be 
unannounced--of each facility annually. We currently have ongoing work 
that reviews the Coast Guard's oversight strategy under MTSA and SAFE 
Port Act requirements. The report, expected later this year, will 
cover, among other things, the extent to which the Coast Guard has met 
its inspection requirements and found facilities to be in compliance 
with its security plans, the sufficiency of trained inspectors and 
guidance to conduct facility inspections, and aspects of the Coast 
Guard's overall management of its MTSA facility oversight program, 
particularly documenting compliance activities. 

Our work is preliminary. However, according to our analysis of Coast 
Guard records and statements from officials, the Coast Guard seems to 
have conducted facility compliance exams annually at most--but not all-
-facilities. Redirection of staff to a higher-priority mission, such as 
Hurricane Katrina emergency operations, may have accounted for some 
facilities not having received an annual exam. The Coast Guard also 
conducted a number of unannounced inspections--about 4,500 in 2006, 
concentrated in around 1,200 facilities--prior to the SAFE Port Act's 
passage. According to officials we spoke with, the Coast Guard selected 
facilities for unannounced inspection based on perceived risk and 
inspection convenience (e.g., if inspectors were already at the 
facility for another purpose). The Coast Guard has identified facility 
plan compliance deficiencies in about one-third of facilities inspected 
each year, and the deficiencies identified are concentrated in a small 
number of categories (e.g., failure to follow the approved plan for 
ensuring facility access control, record keeping, or meeting facility 
security officer requirements). We are still in the process of 
reviewing the data Coast Guard uses to document compliance activities 
and will have additional information in our forthcoming report. 

Sectors we visited generally reported having adequate guidance and 
staff for conducting consistent compliance exams, but until recently, 
little guidance on conducting unannounced inspections, which are often 
incorporated into work while performing other mission tasks. Lacking 
guidance on unannounced inspections, the process for conducting one 
varied considerably in the sectors we visited. For example, inspectors 
in one sector found the use of a telescope effective in remotely 
observing facility control measures (such as security guard 
activities), but these inspectors primarily conduct unannounced 
inspections as part of vehicle patrols. Inspectors in another sector 
conduct unannounced inspections at night, going up to the security gate 
and querying personnel about their security knowledge (e.g., knowledge 
of high-security-level procedures). As we completed our fieldwork, the 
Coast Guard issued a Commandant message with guidance on conducting 
unannounced inspections. This message may provide more consistency, but 
how the guidance will be applied and its impact on resource needs 
remain uncertain. Coast Guard officials said they plan to revise their 
primary circular on facility oversight by February 2008. They are also 
planning to revise MTSA regulations to conform to SAFE Port Act 
requirements in 2009 (in time for the reapproval of facility security 
plans) but are behind schedule. 

We recommended in June 2004 that the Coast Guard evaluate its 
compliance inspection efforts taken during the initial 6-month period 
after July 1, 2004, and use the results to strengthen its long-term 
strategy for ensuring compliance.[Footnote 26] The Coast Guard agreed 
with this recommendation. Nevertheless, based on our ongoing work, it 
appears that the Coast Guard has not conducted a comprehensive 
evaluation of its oversight program to identify strengths or target 
areas for improvement after 3 years of program implementation. Our 
prior work across a wide range of public and private sector 
organizations shows that high-performing organizations continuously 
assess their performance with information about results based on their 
activities.[Footnote 27] For decision makers to assess program 
strategies, guidance, and resources, they need accurate and complete 
data reflecting program activities. We are currently reviewing the 
accuracy and completeness of Coast Guard compliance data and will 
report on this issue later this year. 

TSA Has Made Progress in Implementing the TWIC Program, but Key 
Deadline Has Been Missed as TSA Evaluates Test Program: 

To control access to secure areas of port facilities and vessels, the 
Secretary of DHS was required by MTSA to, among other things; issue a 
transportation worker identification card that uses biometrics, such as 
fingerprints. TSA had already initiated a program to create an 
identification credential that could be used by workers in all modes of 
transportation when MTSA was enacted. This program, called the TWIC 
program, is designed to collect personal and biometric information to 
validate workers' identities, conduct background checks on 
transportation workers to ensure they do not pose a threat to security, 
issue tamper-resistant biometric credentials that cannot be 
counterfeited, verify these credentials using biometric access control 
systems before a worker is granted unescorted access to a secure area, 
and revoke credentials if disqualifying information is discovered, or 
if a card is lost, damaged, or stolen. TSA, in partnership with the 
Coast Guard, is focusing initial implementation on maritime facilities. 

We have previously reported on the status of this program and the 
challenges that it faces.[Footnote 28] Most recently, we reported that 
TSA has made progress in implementing the TWIC program and addressing 
problems we previously identified regarding contract planning and 
oversight and coordination with stakeholders.[Footnote 29] For example, 
TSA reported that it added staff with program and contract management 
expertise to help oversee the contract and developed plans for 
conducting public outreach and education efforts. 

The SAFE Port Act required TSA to implement TWIC at the 10 highest-risk 
ports by July 1, 2007, conduct a pilot program to test TWIC access 
control technologies in the maritime environment; issue regulations 
requiring TWIC card readers based on the findings of the pilot; and 
periodically report to Congress on the status of the program. According 
to TSA officials, the July 1 deadline was not met because the agency 
and the TWIC enrollment contractor needed to conduct additional tests 
of the software and equipment that will be used to enroll and issue 
cards to workers to ensure that they work effectively before 
implementation. TSA officials stated that such testing was needed to 
ensure that these systems will be able to handle the capacity of 
enrolling as many as 5,000 workers per day, conducting background 
checks on these workers in a timely manner, and efficiently producing a 
TWIC card for each worker. In October 2007, TSA announced that this 
testing was complete, and the agency reported that it began enrolling 
and issuing TWIC cards to workers at the Port of Wilmington, Delaware, 
on October 16, 2007, and that implementation would extend to 11 
additional ports by November 2007.[Footnote 30] TSA has also begun 
planning a pilot to test TWIC access control technologies, such as 
biometric card readers, in the maritime environment as required by the 
SAFE Port Act. According to TSA, the agency is partnering with the port 
authorities of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Brownsville, and New York and 
New Jersey, in addition to Watermark Cruises in Annapolis, Maryland, to 
test the TWIC access control technologies in the maritime environment 
and is still seeking additional participants. TSA's objective is to 
include pilot test participants that are representative of a variety of 
facilities and vessels in different geographic locations and 
environmental conditions. According to TSA, the results of the pilot 
program will help the agency issue future regulations that will require 
the installation of access control systems necessary to read the TWIC 
cards. We will also be testifying before the full Committee on Homeland 
Security on several key challenges that can affect the successful 
implementation of the TWIC program. 

DHS Working to Coordinate Multiple Background Check Programs for 
Transportation Workers: 

Since the 9/11 attacks, the federal government has taken steps to 
ensure that transportation workers, many of whom transport hazardous 
materials or have access to secure areas in locations such as port 
facilities, are properly screened to ensure they do not pose a security 
risk. Concerns have been raised, however, that transportation workers 
may face a variety of background checks, each with different standards. 
In July 2004, the 9/11 Commission reported that having too many 
different biometric standards, travel facilitation systems, 
credentialing systems, and screening requirements hampers the 
development of information crucial for stopping terrorists from 
entering the country, is expensive, and is inefficient.[Footnote 31] 
The commission recommended that a coordinating body raise standards, 
facilitate information-sharing, and survey systems for potential 
problems. In August 2004, Homeland Security Presidential Directive - 11 
announced a new U.S. policy to "implement a coordinated and 
comprehensive approach to terrorist-related screening--in immigration, 
law enforcement, intelligence, counterintelligence, and protection of 
the border, transportation systems, and critical infrastructure--that 
supports homeland security, at home and abroad." 

DHS components have begun a number of their own background check 
initiatives. For example, in January 2007, TSA determined that the 
background checks required for three other DHS programs satisfied the 
background check requirement for the TWIC program.[Footnote 32] That 
is, an applicant who has already undergone a background check in 
association with any of these three programs does not have to undergo 
an additional background check and pays a reduced fee to obtain a TWIC 
card. Similarly, the Coast Guard plans to consolidate four credentials 
and require that all pertinent information previously submitted by an 
applicant at a Coast Guard Regional Examination Center will be 
forwarded by the center to TSA through the TWIC enrollment process. 

In April 2007, we completed a study of DHS background check programs as 
part of a SAFE Port Act requirement to do so.[Footnote 33] We found 
that the six programs we reviewed were conducted independently of one 
another, collected similar information, and used similar background 
check processes. Further, each program operated separate enrollment 
facilities to collect background information and did not share it with 
the other programs. We also found that DHS did not track the number of 
workers who, needing multiple credentials, were subjected to multiple 
background check programs. Because DHS is responsible for a large 
number of background check programs, we recommended that DHS ensure 
that its coordination plan includes implementation steps, time frames, 
and budget requirements; discusses potential costs/benefits of program 
standardization; and explores options for coordinating and aligning 
background checks within DHS and other federal agencies. 

DHS concurred with our recommendations and continues to take steps-- 
both at the department level and within its various agencies--to 
consolidate, coordinate, and harmonize such background check 
programs.[Footnote 34] At the department level, DHS created SCO in July 
2006 to coordinate DHS background check programs. SCO is in the early 
stages of developing its plans for this coordination. In December 2006, 
SCO issued a report identifying common problems, challenges, and needed 
improvements in the credentialing programs and processes across the 
department. The office awarded a contract in April 2007 that will 
provide the methodology and support for developing an implementation 
plan to include common design and comparability standards and related 
milestones to coordinate DHS screening and credentialing programs. 
Since April 2007, DHS and SCO have signed a contract to produce three 
deliverables to align its screening and credentialing activities, set a 
method and time frame for applying a common set of design and 
comparability standards, and eliminate redundancy through 
harmonization. These three deliverables are as follows: 

* Credentialing framework: A framework completed in July 2007 that 
describes a credentialing lifecycle of registration and enrollment, 
eligibility vetting and risk assessment, issuance, expiration and 
revocation, and redress. This framework was to incorporate risk-based 
levels or criteria, and an assessment of the legal, privacy, policy, 
operational, and technical challenges. 

* Technical review: An assessment scheduled for completion in October 
2007 is to be completed by the contractor in conjunction with the DHS 
Office of the Chief Information Officer. This is to include a review of 
the issues present in the current technical environment and the 
proposed future technical environment needed to address those issues, 
and provide recommendations for targeted investment reuse and key 
target technologies. 

* Transition plan: A plan scheduled to be completed in November 2007 is 
to outline the projects needed to actualize the framework, including 
identification of major activities, milestones, and associated timeline 
and costs. 

Stakeholders in this effort include multiple components of DHS and the 
Departments of State and Justice. 

In addition, the DHS Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and 
the director of SCO issued a memo in May 2007 to promote 
standardization across screening and credentialing programs. In this 
memo, DHS indicated that (1) programs requiring the collection and use 
of fingerprints to vet individuals will use the Automated Biometric 
Identification System (IDENT); (2) these programs are to reuse existing 
or currently planned and funded infrastructure for the intake of 
identity information to the greatest extent possible; (3) its CIO is to 
establish a procurement plan to ensure that the department can handle a 
large volume of automated vetting from programs currently in the 
planning phase; and (4) to support the sharing of databases and 
potential consolidation of duplicative applications, the Enterprise 
Data Management Office is currently developing an inventory of 
biographic data assets that DHS maintains to support identity 
management and screening processes. 

While continuing to consolidate, coordinate, and harmonize background 
check programs, DHS will likely face additional challenges, such as 
ensuring that its plans are sufficiently complete without being overly 
restrictive, and lack of information regarding the potential costs and 
benefits associated with the number of redundant background checks. SCO 
will be challenged to coordinate DHS's background check programs in 
such a way that any common set of standards developed to eliminate 
redundant checks meets the varied needs of all the programs without 
being so strict that it unduly limits the applicant pool or so 
intrusive that potential applicants are unwilling to take part. Without 
knowing the potential costs and benefits associated with the number of 
redundant background checks that harmonization would eliminate, DHS 
lacks the performance information that would allow its program managers 
to compare their program results with goals. Thus, DHS cannot be 
certain where to target program resources to improve performance. As we 
recommended, DHS could benefit from a plan that includes, at a minimum, 
a discussion of the potential costs and benefits associated with the 
number of redundant background checks that would be eliminated through 

Container Security Programs Continue to Expand and Mature, but New 
Challenges Emerge: 

Through the development of strategic plans, human capital strategies, 
and performance measures, several container security programs have been 
established and matured. However, these programs continue to face 
technical and management challenges in implementation. As part of its 
layered security strategy, CBP developed the Automated Targeting System 
as a decision support tool to assess the risks of individual cargo 
containers. ATS is a complex mathematical model that uses weighted 
rules that assign a risk score to each arriving shipment based on 
shipping information (e.g., manifests, bills of lading, and entry 
data). Although the program has faced quality assurance challenges from 
its inception, CBP has made significant progress in addressing these 
challenges. CBP's in-bond program does not collect detailed information 
at the U.S. port of arrival that could aid in identifying cargo posing 
a security risk and promote the effective use of inspection resources. 
In the past, CSI has lacked sufficient staff to meet program 
requirements. C-TPAT has faced challenges with validation quality and 
management in the past, in part due to its rapid growth. The Department 
of Energy's Megaports Initiative faces ongoing operational and 
technical challenges in the installation and maintenance of radiation 
detection equipment at ports. In addition, implementing the Secure 
Freight Initiative and the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 presents 
additional challenges for the scanning of cargo containers inbound to 
the United States. 

Management of the Automated Targeting System Has Improved: 

CBP is responsible for preventing terrorists and WMD from entering the 
United States. As part of this responsibility, CBP addresses the 
potential threat posed by the movement of oceangoing cargo containers. 
To perform this mission, CBP officers at seaports utilize officer 
knowledge and CBP automated systems to assist in determining which 
containers entering the country will undergo inspections, and then 
perform the necessary level of inspection of each container based upon 
risk. To assist in determining which containers are to be subjected to 
inspection, CBP uses a layered security strategy that attempts to focus 
resources on potentially risky cargo shipped in containers while 
allowing other oceangoing containers to proceed without disrupting 
commerce. ATS is one key element of this strategy. CBP uses ATS as a 
decision support tool to review documentation, including electronic 
manifest information submitted by the ocean carriers on all arriving 
shipments, and entry data submitted by brokers to develop risk scores 
that help identify containers for additional inspection.[Footnote 35] 
CBP requires the carriers to submit manifest information 24 hours prior 
to a United States-bound sea container being loaded onto a vessel in a 
foreign port. CBP officers use these scores to help them make decisions 
on the extent of documentary review or additional inspection as 

We have conducted several reviews of ATS and made recommendations for 
its improvement.[Footnote 36] Consistent with these recommendations, 
CBP has implemented a number of important internal controls for the 
administration and implementation of ATS.[Footnote 37] For example, CBP 
(1) has established performance metrics for ATS, (2) is manually 
comparing the results of randomly conducted inspections with the 
results of inspections resulting from ATS analysis of the shipment 
data, and (3) has developed and implemented a testing and simulation 
environment to conduct computer-generated tests of ATS. Since our last 
report on ATS, the SAFE Port Act required that the CBP Commissioner 
take additional actions to improve ATS. These requirements included 
steps such as (1) having an independent panel review the effectiveness 
and capabilities of ATS; (2) considering future iterations of ATS that 
would incorporate smart features;[Footnote 38] (3) ensuring that ATS 
has the capability to electronically compare manifest and other 
available data to detect any significant anomalies and facilitate their 
resolution; (4) ensuring that ATS has the capability to electronically 
identify, compile, and compare select data elements following a 
maritime transportation security incident; and (5) developing a 
schedule to address recommendations made by GAO and the Inspectors 
General of the Department of the Treasury and DHS. 

CBP's Management of the In-Bond Cargo System Impedes Efforts to Manage 
Security Risks: 

CBP's in-bond system--which allows goods to transit the United States 
without officially entering U.S. commerce--must balance the competing 
goals of providing port security, facilitating trade, and collecting 
trade revenues. However, we have earlier reported that CBP's management 
of the system has impeded efforts to manage security risks. 
Specifically, CBP does not collect detailed information on in-bond 
cargo at the U.S. port of arrival that could aid in identifying cargo 
posing a security risk and promote effective use of inspection 
resources.[Footnote 39] 

The in-bond system is designed to facilitate the flow of trade 
throughout the United States and is estimated to be widely used. The 
U.S. customs system allows cargo to move from the U.S. arrival port, 
without appraisal or payment of duties, to another U.S. port for 
official entry into U.S. commerce or for exportation.[Footnote 40] In- 
bond regulations currently permit bonded carriers from 15 to 60 days, 
depending on the mode of shipment, to reach their final destination and 
allow them to change a shipment's final destination without notifying 
CBP. The in-bond system allows the trade community to avoid congestion 
and delays at U.S. seaports whose infrastructure has not kept pace with 
the dramatic growth in trade volume. In-bond facilitates trade by 
allowing importers and shipping agents the flexibility to move cargo 
more efficiently. Using the number of in-bond transactions reported by 
CBP for the 6-month period of October 2004 to March 2005, we found over 
6.5 million in-bond transactions were initiated nationwide. Some CBP 
port officials have estimated that in-bond shipments represent from 30 
percent to 60 percent of goods received at their ports.[Footnote 41] 

As discussed earlier in this testimony, CBP uses manifest information 
it receives on all cargo arriving at U.S. ports (including in-bond 
cargo) as input for ATS scoring to aid in identifying security risks 
and setting inspection priorities. For regular cargo, the ATS score is 
updated with more detailed information as the cargo makes official 
entry at the arrival port. For in-bond cargo, the ATS scores generally 
are not updated until these goods move from the port of arrival to the 
destination port for official entry into United States commerce, or not 
updated at all for cargo that is intended to be exported.[Footnote 42] 
As a result, in-bond goods might transit the United States without 
having the most accurate ATS risk score. 

Entry information frequently changes the ATS score for in-bond 
goods.[Footnote 43] For example, CBP provided data for four major ports 
comparing the ATS score assigned to in-bond cargo at the port of 
arrival based on the manifest to the ATS score given after goods made 
official entry at the destination port.[Footnote 44] These data show 
that for the four ports, the ATS score based on the manifest 
information stayed the same an average of 30 percent of the time after 
being updated with entry information, ATS scores increased an average 
of 23 percent of the time and decreased an average of 47 percent of the 
time. A higher ATS score can result in higher priority being given to 
cargo for inspection than otherwise would be given based solely on the 
manifest information. A lower ATS score can result in cargo being given 
a lower priority for inspection and potentially shift inspection 
resources to cargo deemed a higher security risk. Without having the 
most accurate ATS score, in-bond goods transiting the United States 
pose a potential security threat because higher-risk cargo may not be 
identified for inspection at the port of arrival. In addition, scarce 
inspection resources may be misdirected to in-bond goods that a 
security score based on better information might have shown did not 
warrant inspection. 

We earlier recommended that the Commissioner of CBP take action in 
three areas to improve the management of the in-bond program, which 
included collecting and using improved information on in-bond shipments 
to update the ATS score for in-bond movements at the arrival port and 
enable better informed decisions affecting security, trade, and revenue 
collection.[Footnote 45] DHS agreed with most of our recommendations. 
According to CBP, it is in the process of developing an in-bond weight 
set to be utilized to further identify cargo posing a security risk. 
The weight set is being developed based on expert knowledge, analysis 
of previous in-bond seizures, and creation of rules based on in-bond 

The SAFE Port Act of 2006 contains provisions related to securing the 
international cargo supply chain, including provisions related to the 
movement of in-bond cargo. Specifically, it requires that CBP submit a 
report to several congressional committees on the in-bond system that 
includes an assessment of whether ports of arrival should require 
additional information for in-bond cargo, a plan for tracking in-bond 
cargo in CBP's Automated Commercial Environment information system, and 
assessment of the personnel required to ensure reconciliation of in- 
bond cargo between arrival port and destination port. It also requires 
that the report include an assessment of the feasibility of reducing 
transit time while traveling in-bond, and an evaluation of the criteria 
for targeting and examining in-bond cargo. CBP submitted the report to 
the Congress on October 17, 2007. In the report, CBP states its 
intention to propose various changes addressing the areas of concern, 
but it does not propose time frames for its actions. 

The CSI Program Continues to Mature, but Addressing SAFE Port Act 
Requirements Adds New Challenges: 

CBP initiated its CSI program to detect and deter terrorists from 
smuggling WMD via cargo containers before they reach domestic seaports 
in January 2002. The SAFE Port Act formalized the CSI program into law. 
Under CSI, foreign governments sign a bilateral agreement with CBP to 
allow teams of U.S. customs officials to be stationed at foreign 
seaports to identify cargo container shipments at risk of containing 
WMD. CBP personnel use automated risk assessment information and 
intelligence to target to identify those at risk of containing WMD. 
When a shipment is determined to be high risk, CBP officials refer it 
to host government officials who determine whether to examine the 
shipment before it leaves their seaport for the United States. In most 
cases, host government officials honor the U.S. request by examining 
the referred shipments with nonintrusive inspection equipment and, if 
they deem necessary, by opening the cargo containers to physically 
search the contents inside.[Footnote 46] CBP planned to have a total of 
58 seaports by the end of fiscal year 2007. 

Our 2003 and 2005 reports on the CSI program found both successes and 
challenges faced by CBP in implementing the program.[Footnote 47] Since 
our last CSI report in 2005, CBP has addressed some of the challenges 
we identified and has taken steps to improve the CSI program. 
Specifically, CBP contributed to the Strategy to Enhance International 
Supply Chain Security that DHS issued in July 2007, which addressed a 
SAFE Port Act requirement and filled an important gap--between broad 
national strategies and program-specific strategies, such as for CSI-- 
in the strategic framework for maritime security that has evolved since 
9/11. In addition, in 2006 CBP issued a revised CSI strategic plan for 
2006 to 2011, which added three critical elements that we had 
identified in our April 2005 report as missing from the plan's previous 
iteration. In the revised plan, CBP described how performance goals and 
measures are related to CSI objectives, how CBP evaluates CSI program 
operations, and what external factors beyond CBP's control could affect 
program operations and outcomes. Also, by expanding CSI operations to 
58 seaports by the end of September 2007, CBP would have met its 
objective of expanding CSI locations and program activities. CBP 
projected that at the end of fiscal year 2007 between 85 and 87 percent 
of all U.S.-bound shipments in containers will pass through CSI ports 
where the risk level of the container cargo is assessed and the 
contents are examined as deemed necessary. 

Although CBP's goal is to review information about all U.S.-bound 
containers at CSI seaports for high-risk contents before the containers 
depart for the United States, we reported in 2005 that the agency has 
not been able to place enough staff at some CSI ports to do 
so.[Footnote 48] Also, the SAFE Port Act required DHS to develop a 
human capital management plan to determine adequate staffing levels in 
U.S. and CSI ports. CBP has developed a human capital plan, increased 
the number of staff at CSI ports, and provided additional support to 
the deployed CSI staff by using staff in the United States to screen 
containers for various risk factors and potential inspection. With 
these additional resources, CBP reports that manifest data for all US- 
bound container cargo are reviewed using ATS to determine whether the 
container is at high risk of containing WMD. However, the agency faces 
challenges in ensuring that optimal numbers of staff are assigned to 
CSI ports, in part because of its reliance on placing staff overseas at 
CSI ports without systematically determining which functions could be 
performed overseas and which could be performed domestically. 

Also, in 2006 CBP improved its methods for conducting on-site 
evaluations of CSI ports, in part by requiring CSI teams at the 
seaports to demonstrate their proficiency at conducting program 
activities and by employing electronic tools designed to assist in the 
efficient and systematic collection and analysis of data to help in 
evaluating the CSI team's proficiency. In addition, CBP continued to 
refine the performance measures it uses to track the effectiveness of 
the CSI program by streamlining the number of measures it uses to six, 
modifying how one measure is calculated to address an issue we 
identified in our April 2005 report, and developing performance targets 
for the measures. We are continuing to review these assessment 
practices as part of our ongoing review of the CSI program, and expect 
to report on the results of this effort shortly. 

Similar to our recommendation in a previous CSI report, the SAFE Port 
Act called upon DHS to establish minimum technical criteria for the use 
of nonintrusive inspection equipment in conjunction with CSI. The act 
also directs DHS to require that seaports receiving CSI designation 
operate such equipment in accordance with these criteria and with 
standard operating procedures developed by DHS. CBP officials stated 
that their agency faces challenges in implementing this requirement due 
to sovereignty issues and the fact that the agency is not a standard- 
setting organization, either for equipment or for inspections processes 
or for practices. However, CBP has developed minimum technical 
standards for equipment used at domestic ports, and the World Customs 
Organization (WCO)[Footnote 49] had described issues--not standards-- 
to consider when procuring inspection equipment. Our work suggests that 
CBP may face continued challenges establishing equipment standards and 
monitoring host government operations, which we are also examining in 
our ongoing review of the CSI program. 

C-TPAT Continues to Expand and Mature, but Management Challenges 

CBP initiated C-TPAT in November 2001 to complement other maritime 
security programs as part of the agency's layered security strategy. In 
October 2006, the SAFE Port Act formalized C-TPAT into law. C-TPAT is a 
voluntary program that enables CBP officials to work in partnership 
with private companies to review the security of their international 
supply chains and improve the security of their shipments to the United 
States. In return for committing to improve the security of their 
shipments by joining the program, C-TPAT members receive benefits that 
result in the likelihood of reduced scrutiny of their shipments, such 
as a reduced number of inspections or shorter wait times for their 
shipments. CBP uses information about C-TPAT membership to adjust risk- 
based targeting of these members shipments in ATS. As of July 2007, CBP 
had certified more than 7,000 companies that import goods via cargo 
containers through U.S. seaports--which accounted for approximately 45 
percent of all U.S. imports--and validated the security practices of 78 
percent of these certified participants. 

We reported on the progress of the C-TPAT program in 2003 and 2005 and 
recommended that CBP develop a strategic plan and performance measures 
to track the program's status in meeting its strategic goals.[Footnote 
50] DHS concurred with these recommendations. The SAFE Port Act also 
mandated that CBP develop and implement a 5-year strategic plan with 
outcome-based goals and performance measures for C-TPAT. CBP officials 
stated that they are in the process of updating their strategic plan 
for C-TPAT, which was issued in November 2004, for 2007 to 2012. This 
updated plan is being reviewed within CBP, but a time frame for issuing 
the plan has not been established. We recommended in our March 2005 
report that CBP establish performance measures to track its progress in 
meeting the goals and objectives established as part of the strategic 
planning process.[Footnote 51] Although CBP has since put additional 
performance measures in place, CBP's efforts have focused on measures 
regarding program participation and facilitating trade and travel. CBP 
has not yet developed performance measures for C-TPAT's efforts aimed 
at ensuring improved supply chain security, which is the program's 

In our previous work, we acknowledged that the C-TPAT program holds 
promise as part of a layered maritime security strategy. However, we 
also raised a number of concerns about the overall management of the 
program. Since our past reports, the C-TPAT program has continued to 
mature. The SAFE Port Act mandated that actions--similar to ones we had 
recommended in our March 2005 report--be taken to strengthen the 
management of the program. For example, the act included a new goal 
that CBP make a certification determination within 90 days of CBP's 
receipt of a C-TPAT application, validate C-TPAT members' security 
measures and supply chain security practices within 1 year of their 
certification, and revalidate those members no less than once in every 
4 years. As we recommended in our March 2005 report, CBP has developed 
a human capital plan and implemented a records management system for 
documenting key program decisions. CBP has addressed C-TPAT staffing 
challenges by increasing the number of supply chain security 
specialists from 41 in 2005 to 156 in 2007. 

In February 2007, CBP updated its resource needs to reflect SAFE Port 
Act requirements, including that certification, validation, and 
revalidation processes be conducted within specified time frames. CBP 
believes that C-TPAT's current staff of 156 supply chain security 
specialists will allow it to meet the act's initial validation and 
revalidation goals for 2007 and 2008. If an additional 50 specialists 
authorized by the act are made available by late 2008, CBP expects to 
be able to stay within compliance of the act's time frame requirements 
through 2009. In addition, CBP developed and implemented a centralized 
electronic records management system to facilitate information storage 
and sharing and communication with C-TPAT partners. This system--known 
as the C-TPAT Portal--enables CBP to track and ascertain the status of 
C-TPAT applicants and partners to ensure that they are certified, 
validated, and revalidated within required time frames. As part of our 
ongoing work, we are reviewing the data captured in Portal, including 
data needed by CBP management to assess the efficiency of C-TPAT 
operations and to determine compliance with its program requirements. 
These actions--dedicating resources to carry out certification and 
validation reviews and putting a system in place to track the 
timeliness of these reviews--should help CBP meet several of the 
mandates of the SAFE Port Act. We expect to issue a final report early 
next year. 

Our 2005 report raised concerns about CBP granting benefits 
prematurely--before CBP had validated company practices. Instead of 
granting new members full benefits without actual verification of their 
supply chain security, CBP implemented three tiers to grant companies 
graduated benefits based on CBP's certification and validation of their 
security practices. Related to this, the SAFE Port Act codified CBP's 
policy of granting graduated benefits to C-TPAT members. Tier 1 
benefits--a limited reduction in the score assigned in ATS--are granted 
to companies upon certification that their written description of their 
security profile meets minimum security criteria. Companies whose 
security practices CBP validates in an on-site assessment receive Tier 
2 benefits that may include reduced scores in ATS, reduced cargo 
examinations, and priority searches of cargo. If CBP's validation shows 
sustained commitment by a company to security practices beyond what is 
expected, the company receives Tier 3 benefits. Tier 3 benefits may 
include expedited cargo release at U.S. ports at all threat levels, 
further reduction in cargo examinations, priority examinations, and 
participation in joint incident management exercises. 

Our 2005 report also raised concerns about whether the validation 
process was rigorous enough. Similarly, the SAFE Port Act mandates that 
the validation process be strengthened, including setting a year time 
frame for completing validations. CBP initially set a goal of 
validating all companies within their first 3 years as C-TPAT members, 
but the program's rapid growth in membership made the goal 
unachievable. CBP then moved to a risk-based approach to selecting 
members for validation, considering factors such as a company's having 
foreign supply chain operations in a known terrorist area or involving 
multiple foreign suppliers. CBP further modified its approach to 
selecting companies for validation to achieve greater efficiency by 
conducting "blitz" operations to validate foreign elements of multiple 
members' supply chains in a single trip. Blitz operations focus on 
factors such as C-TPAT members within a certain industry, supply chains 
within a certain geographic area, or foreign suppliers to multiple C- 
TPAT members. Risks remain a consideration, according to CBP, but the 
blitz strategy drives the decision of when a member company will be 
validated. In addition to taking these actions to efficiently conduct 
validations, CBP has periodically updated the minimum security 
requirements that companies must meet to be validated and is conducting 
a pilot program of using third-party contractors to conduct validation 
assessments. As part of our ongoing work, we are reviewing these 
actions, which are required as part of the SAFE Port Act, and other CBP 
efforts to enhance its C-TPAT validation process. 

CBP Has Played a Key Role in Promoting Global Customs Security 
Standards and Initiatives, but Progress with These Efforts Presents New 
Challenges for CSI and C-TPAT: 

The CSI and C-TPAT programs have provided a model for global customs 
security standards, but as other countries adopt the core principles of 
CSI and programs similar to C-TPAT, CBP may face new challenges. 
Foreign officials within the WCO and elsewhere have observed the CSI 
and C-TPAT programs as potential models for enhancing supply chain 
security. Also, CBP has taken a lead role in working with members of 
the domestic and international customs and trade community on 
approaches to standardizing supply chain security worldwide. As CBP has 
recognized, and we have previously reported, in security matters the 
United States is not self-contained, in either its problems or its 
solutions. The growing interdependence of nations requires policymakers 
to recognize the need to work in partnerships across international 
boundaries to achieve vital national goals. 

For this reason, CBP has committed through its strategic planning 
process to develop and promote an international framework of standards 
governing customs-to-customs relationships and customs-to-business 
relationships in a manner similar to CSI and C-TPAT, respectively. To 
achieve this, CBP has worked with foreign customs administrations 
through the WCO to establish a framework creating international 
standards that provide increased security of the global supply chain 
while facilitating international trade. The member countries of the 
WCO, including the United States, adopted such a framework, known as 
the WCO Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade 
and commonly referred to as the SAFE Framework, in June 2005. The SAFE 
Framework internationalizes the core principles of CSI in creating 
global standards for customs security practices and promotes 
international customs-to-business partnership programs, such as C- 
TPAT. As of September 11, 2007, 148 WCO member countries had signed 
letters of intent to implement the SAFE Framework. CBP, along with the 
customs administrations of other countries and through the WCO, 
provides technical assistance and training to those countries that want 
to implement the SAFE Framework, but do not yet have the capacity to do 

The SAFE Framework enhances the CSI program by promoting the 
implementation of CSI-like customs security practices, including the 
use of electronic advance information requirements and risk-based 
targeting, in both CSI and non-CSI ports worldwide. The framework also 
lays the foundation for mutual recognition, an arrangement whereby one 
country can attain a certain level of assurance about the customs 
security standards and practices and business partnership programs of 
another country. In June 2007, CBP entered into the first mutual 
recognition arrangement of a business-to-customs partnership program 
with the New Zealand Customs Service. This arrangement stipulates that 
members of one country's business-to-customs program be recognized and 
receive similar benefits from the customs service of the other country. 
CBP is pursuing similar arrangements with Jordan and Japan, and is 
conducting a pilot program with the European Commission to test 
approaches to achieving mutual recognition and address differences in 
their respective programs. However, the specific details of how the 
participating counties' customs officials will implement the mutual 
recognition arrangement--such as what benefits, if any, should be 
allotted to members of other countries' C-TPAT like programs--have yet 
to be determined. As CBP goes forward, it may face challenges in 
defining the future of its CSI and C-TPAT programs and, more 
specifically, in managing the implementation of mutual recognition 
arrangements, including articulating and agreeing to the criteria for 
accepting another country's program; the specific arrangements for 
implementation, including the sharing of information; and the actions 
for verification, enforcement; and, if necessary, termination of the 

DNDO Faces Challenges Testing Radiation Detection Equipment: 

DHS also has container security programs to develop and test equipment 
to scan containers for radiation. Its DNDO was originally created in 
April 2005 by presidential directive, but the office was formally 
established in October 2006 by Section 501 of the SAFE Port Act. DNDO 
has lead responsibility for conducting the research, development, 
testing, and evaluation of radiation detection equipment that can be 
used to prevent nuclear or radiological materials from entering the 
United States. DNDO is charged with devising the layered system of 
radiation detection equipment and operating procedures--known as the 
"global architecture"--designed to prevent nuclear smuggling at foreign 
ports, the nation's borders, and inside the United States. 

Much of DNDO's work on radiation detection equipment to date has 
focused on the development and use of radiation detection portal 
monitors, which are larger-scale equipment that can screen vehicles, 
people, and cargo entering the United States. Current portal monitors 
detect the presence of radiation but cannot distinguish between benign, 
naturally occurring radiological materials such as ceramic tile, and 
dangerous materials such as highly enriched uranium. Since 2005, DNDO 
has been testing, developing, and planning to deploy the next 
generation of portal monitors, known as "Advanced Spectroscopic 
Portals" (ASP), which can not only detect but also identify 
radiological and nuclear materials within a shipping container. In July 
2006, DNDO announced that it had awarded contracts to three vendors to 
develop and purchase $1.2 billion worth of ASPs over 5 years for 
deployment at U.S. points of entry. 

We have reported a number of times to Congress concerning DNDO's 
execution of the ASP program.[Footnote 52] To ensure that DHS's 
substantial investment in radiation detection technology yields the 
greatest possible level of detection capability at the lowest possible 
cost, in March 2006 we recommended that once the costs and capabilities 
of ASPs were well understood, and before any of the new equipment was 
purchased for deployment, the Secretary of DHS work with the Director 
of DNDO to analyze the costs and benefits of deploying ASPs.[Footnote 
53] Further, we recommended that this analysis focus on determining 
whether any additional detection capability provided by the ASPs was 
worth the considerable additional costs. In response to our 
recommendation, DNDO issued its cost-benefit analysis in May 2006 and 
an updated, revised version in June 2006.[Footnote 54] According to 
senior agency officials, DNDO believes that the basic conclusions of 
its cost-benefit analysis showed that the new ASP monitors are a sound 
investment for the U.S. government. 

However, in October 2006, we concluded that DNDO's cost-benefit 
analysis did not provide a sound basis for DNDO's decision to purchase 
and deploy ASP technology because it relied on assumptions of the 
anticipated performance level of ASPs instead of actual test data and 
that it did not justify DHS's planned $1.2 billion 
expenditure.[Footnote 55] We also reported that DNDO did not assess the 
likelihood that ASPs would either misidentify or fail to detect nuclear 
or radiological material. Rather, it focused its analysis on reducing 
the time necessary to screen traffic at border check points and reduce 
the impact of any delays on commerce. We recommended that DNDO conduct 
further testing of ASPs and the currently deployed portal monitors 
before spending additional funds to purchase ASPs. DNDO conducted this 
testing of ASPs at the Nevada test site during February and March 2007. 

In September 2007, we testified on these tests, stating that, in our 
view, DNDO used biased test methods that enhanced the performance of 
the ASPs.[Footnote 56] In particular, DNDO conducted preliminary runs 
of almost all the materials and combination of materials that it used 
in the formal tests and then allowed ASP contractors to collect test 
data and adjust their systems to identify these materials. In addition, 
DNDO did not attempt in its tests to identify the limitations of ASPs-
-a critical oversight in its test plan. Specifically, the materials 
that DNDO included in its test plan did not emit enough radiation to 
hide or mask the presence of nuclear materials located within a 
shipping container. Finally, in its tests of the existing radiation 
detection system, DNDO did not include a critical standard operating 
procedure that officers with CBP use to improve the system's 

It is important to note that, during the course of our work, CBP, DOE, 
and national laboratory officials we spoke to voiced concern about 
their lack of involvement in the planning and execution of the Nevada 
test site tests. For example, DOE officials told us that they informed 
DNDO in November 2006 of their concerns that the materials DNDO planned 
to use in its tests were too weak to effectively mask the presence of 
nuclear materials in a container. DNDO officials rejected DOE 
officials' suggestion to use stronger materials in the tests because, 
according to DNDO, there would be insufficient time to obtain these 
materials and still obtain the DHS Secretary's approval for full-scale 
production of ASPs by DNDO's self-imposed deadline of June 26, 2007. 
Although DNDO has agreed to perform computer simulations to address 
this issue, the DNDO Director would not commit at the September 
testimony to delaying full-scale ASP production until all the test 
results were in. 

DOE Continues to Expand Its Megaports Program: 

The Megaports Initiative, initiated by DOE's National Nuclear Security 
Administration in 2003, represents another component in the efforts to 
prevent terrorists from smuggling WMD in cargo containers from overseas 
locations. The goal of this initiative is to enable foreign government 
personnel at key foreign seaports to use radiation detection equipment 
to screen shipping containers entering and leaving these ports, 
regardless of the containers' destination, for nuclear and other 
radioactive material that could be used against the United States or 
its allies. DOE installs radiation detection equipment, such as 
radiation portal monitors and handheld radioactive isotope 
identification devices, at foreign seaports that is then operated by 
foreign government officials and port personnel working at these ports. 

Through August 2007, DOE had completed installation of radiation 
detection equipment at eight ports: Rotterdam, the Netherlands; 
Piraeus, Greece; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Algeciras, Spain; Singapore; 
Freeport, Bahamas; Manila, Philippines; and Antwerp, Belgium (Phase I). 
Operational testing is under way at four additional ports: Antwerp, 
Belgium (Phase II); Puerto Cortes, Honduras; Qasim, Pakistan; and Laem 
Chabang, Thailand. Additionally, DOE has signed agreements to begin 
work and is in various stages of implementation at ports in 12 other 
countries, including the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates/Dubai, 
Oman, Israel, South Korea, China, Egypt, Jamaica, the Dominican 
Republic, Colombia, Panama, and Mexico, as well as Taiwan and Hong 
Kong. Several of these ports are also part of the Secure Freight 
Initiative, discussed in the next section. Further, in an effort to 
expand cooperation, DOE is engaged in negotiations with approximately 
20 additional countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin 

DOE had made limited progress in gaining agreements to install 
radiation detection equipment at the highest priority seaports when we 
reported on this program in March 2005.[Footnote 57] Then, the agency 
had completed work at only two ports and signed agreements to initiate 
work at five others. We also noted that DOE's cost projections for the 
program were uncertain, in part because they were based on DOE's $15 
million estimate for the average cost per port. This per port cost 
estimate may not be accurate because it was based primarily on DOE's 
radiation detection assistance work at Russian land borders, airports, 
and seaports and did not account for the fact that the costs of 
installing equipment at individual ports vary and are influenced by 
factors such as a port's size, physical layout, and existing 
infrastructure. Since our review, DOE has developed a strategic plan 
for the Megaports Initiative and revised it's per port estimates to 
reflect port size, with per port estimates ranging from $2.6 million to 
$30.4 million. 

As we earlier reported, DOE faces several operational and technical 
challenges specific to installing and maintaining radiation detection 
equipment at foreign ports as the agency continues to implement its 
Megaports Initiative. These challenges include ensuring the ability to 
detect radioactive material, overcoming the physical layout of ports 
and cargo-stacking configurations, and sustaining equipment in port 
environments with high winds and sea spray. 

Secure Freight Initiative Testing Feasibility of Combining Scanning 

The SAFE Port Act required that a pilot program--known as the Secure 
Freight Initiative (SFI)--be conducted to determine the feasibility of 
100 percent scanning of U.S.-bound containers. To fulfill this 
requirement, CBP and DOE jointly announced the formation of SFI in 
December 2006, as an effort to build upon existing port security 
measures by enhancing the U.S. government's ability to scan containers 
for nuclear and radiological materials overseas and better assess the 
risk of inbound containers. In essence, SFI builds upon the CSI and 
Megaports programs. The SAFE Port Act specified that new integrated 
scanning systems that couple nonintrusive imaging equipment and 
radiation detection equipment must be pilot-tested. It also required 
that, once fully implemented, the pilot integrated scanning system scan 
100 percent of containers destined for the United States that are 
loaded at pilot program ports. 

According to agency officials, the initial phase of the initiative will 
involve the deployment of a combination of existing container scanning 
technology--such as X-ray and gamma ray scanners used by host nations 
at CSI ports to locate high-density objects that could be used to 
shield nuclear materials inside containers--and radiation detection 
equipment. The ports chosen to receive this integrated technology are: 
Port Qasim in Pakistan, Puerto Cortes in Honduras, and Southampton in 
the United Kingdom. Four other ports located in Hong Kong, Singapore, 
South Korea, and Oman will receive more limited deployment of these 
technologies as part of the pilot program. According to CBP, containers 
from these ports will be scanned for radiation and other risk factors 
before they are allowed to depart for the United States. If the 
scanning systems indicate that there is a concern, both CSI personnel 
and host country officials will simultaneously receive an alert and the 
specific container will be inspected before that container continues to 
the United States. CBP officials, either on the scene locally or at 
CBP's National Targeting Center, will determine which containers are 

Per the SAFE Port Act, CBP is to report by April 2008 on, among other 
things, the lessons learned from the SFI pilot ports and the need for 
and the feasibility of expanding the system to other CSI ports. Every 6 
months thereafter, CBP is to report on the status of full-scale 
deployment of the integrated scanning systems to scan all containers 
bound for the United States before their arrival. 

New Requirement for 100 Percent Scanning Introduces New Challenges: 

Recent legislative actions have updated U.S. maritime security 
requirements and may affect overall international maritime security 
strategy. In particular, the recently enacted Implementing 
Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act (9/11 Act) requires, by 
2012, 100 percent scanning of U.S.-bound cargo containers using 
nonintrusive imaging equipment and radiation detection equipment at 
foreign seaports. The act also specifies conditions for potential 
extensions beyond 2012 if a seaport cannot meet that deadline. 
Additionally, it requires the Secretary of DHS to develop technological 
and operational standards for scanning systems used to conduct 100 
percent scanning at foreign seaports. The Secretary also is required to 
ensure that actions taken under the act do not violate international 
trade obligations and are consistent with the WCO SAFE Framework. The 
9/11 Act provision replaces the requirement of the SAFE Port Act that 
called for 100 percent scanning of cargo containers before their 
arrival in the United States, but required implementation as soon as 
possible rather than specifying a deadline. While we have not yet 
reviewed the implementation of the 100 percent scanning requirement, we 
have a number of preliminary observations based on field visits of 
foreign ports regarding potential challenges CBP may face in 
implementing this requirement: 

* CBP may face challenges balancing new requirement with current 
international risk management approach. CBP may have difficulty 
requiring 100 percent scanning while also maintaining a risk-based 
security approach that has been developed with many of its 
international partners. Currently, under the CSI program, CBP uses 
automated targeting tools to identify containers that pose a risk for 
terrorism for further inspection before being placed on vessels bound 
for the United States. As we have previously reported, using risk 
management allows for reduction of risk against possible terrorist 
attack on the nation given resources allocated and is an approach that 
has been accepted governmentwide. Furthermore, many U.S. and 
international customs officials we have spoken to, including officials 
from the World Customs Organization, have stated that the 100 percent 
scanning requirement is contrary to the SAFE Framework developed and 
implemented by the international customs community, including CBP. The 
SAFE Framework, based on CSI and C-TPAT, calls for a risk management 
approach, whereas the 9/11 Act calls for the scanning of all containers 
regardless of risk. 

* United States may not be able to reciprocate if other countries 
request it. The CSI program, whereby CBP officers are placed at foreign 
seaports to target cargo bound for the United States, is based on a 
series of bilateral, reciprocal agreements with foreign governments. 
These reciprocal agreements also allow foreign governments the 
opportunity to place customs officials at U.S. seaports and request 
inspection of cargo containers departing from the United States and 
bound for their home country. Currently, customs officials from certain 
countries are stationed at domestic seaports, and agency officials have 
told us that CBP has inspected 100 percent of containers that these 
officials have requested for inspection. According to CBP officials, 
the SFI pilot, as an extension of the CSI program, allows foreign 
officials to ask the United States to reciprocate and scan 100 percent 
of cargo containers bound for those countries. Although the act 
establishing the 100 percent scanning requirement does not mention 
reciprocity, CBP officials have told us that the agency does not have 
the capacity to reciprocate should it be requested to do so, as other 
government officials have indicated they might when this provision of 
the 9/11 Act is in place. 

* Logistical feasibility is unknown and may vary by port. Many ports 
may lack the space necessary to install additional equipment needed to 
comply with the requirement to scan 100 percent of U.S. bound 
containers. Additionally, we observed that scanning equipment at some 
seaports is located several miles away from where cargo containers are 
stored, which may make it time consuming and costly to transport these 
containers for scanning. Similarly, some seaports are configured in 
such a way that there are no natural bottlenecks that would allow for 
equipment to be placed such that all outgoing containers can be scanned 
and the potential to allow containers to slip by without scanning may 
be possible. Transshipment cargo containers--containers moved from one 
vessel to another--are only available for scanning for a short period 
of time and may be difficult to access. Similarly, it may be difficult 
to scan cargo containers that remain on board a vessel as it passes 
through a foreign seaport. CBP officials told us that currently 
containers such as these that are designated as high-risk at CSI ports 
are not scanned unless specific threat information is available 
regarding the cargo in that particular container. 

* Technological maturity is unknown. Integrated scanning technologies 
to test the feasibility of scanning 100 percent of U.S. bound cargo 
containers are not yet operational at all seaports participating in the 
pilot program, known as SFI. The SAFE Port Act requires CBP to produce 
a report regarding the program, which will include an evaluation of the 
effectiveness of scanning equipment at the SFI ports. However, this 
report will not be due until April 2008. Moreover, agency officials 
have stated that the amount of bandwidth necessary to transmit scanning 
equipment outputs to CBP officers for review exceeds what is currently 
feasible and that the electronic infrastructure necessary to transmit 
these outputs may be limited at some foreign seaports. Additionally, 
there are currently no international standards for the technical 
capabilities of inspection equipment. Agency officials have stated that 
CBP is not a standard setting organization and has limited authority to 
implement standards for sovereign foreign governments. 

* Resource responsibilities have not been determined. The 9/11 Act does 
not specify who would pay for additional scanning equipment, personnel, 
computer systems, or infrastructure necessary to establish 100 percent 
scanning of U.S.-bound cargo containers at foreign ports. According to 
the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in its analysis of estimates for 
implementing this requirement, this provision would neither require nor 
prohibit the U.S. federal government from bearing the cost of 
conducting scans. For the purposes of its analysis, CBO assumed that 
the cost of acquiring, installing, and maintaining systems necessary to 
comply with the 100 percent scanning requirement would be borne by 
foreign ports to maintain trade with the United States. However, 
foreign government officials we have spoken to expressed concerns 
regarding the cost of equipment. They also stated that the process for 
procuring scanning equipment may take years and can be difficult when 
trying to comply with changing U.S. requirements. These officials also 
expressed concern regarding the cost of additional personnel necessary 
to (1) operate new scanning equipment, (2) view scanned images and 
transmit them to the United States, and (3) resolve false alarms. An 
official from one country with whom we met told us that while his 
country does not scan 100 percent of exports, modernizing its customs 
service to focus more on exports required a 50 percent increase in 
personnel, and other countries trying to implement the 100 percent 
scanning requirement would likely have to increase the size of their 
customs administrations by at least as much. 

* Use and ownership of data have not been determined. The 9/11 Act does 
not specify who will be responsible for managing the data collected 
through 100 percent scanning of U.S.-bound containers at foreign 
seaports. However, the SAFE Port Act specifies that scanning equipment 
outputs from SFI will be available for review by U.S. government 
officials either at the foreign seaport or in the United States. It is 
not clear who would be responsible for collecting, maintaining, 
disseminating, viewing or analyzing scanning equipment outputs under 
the new requirement. Other questions to be resolved include ownership 
of data, how proprietary information would be treated, and how privacy 
concerns would be addressed. 

CBP officials have indicated they are aware that challenges exist. They 
also stated that the SFI will allow the agency to determine whether 
these challenges can be overcome. According to senior officials from 
CBP and international organizations we contacted, 100 percent scanning 
of containers may divert resources, causing containers that are truly 
high risk to not receive adequate scrutiny due to the sheer volume of 
scanning outputs that must be analyzed. These officials also expressed 
concerns that 100 percent scanning of U.S.-bound containers could 
hinder trade, leading to long lines and burdens on staff responsible 
for viewing images. However, given that the SFI pilot program has only 
recently begun, it is too soon to determine how the 100 percent 
scanning requirement will be implemented and its overall impact on 

Agency Comments: 

We provided a draft of the information in this testimony to DHS. DHS 
provided technical comments, which we incorporated as appropriate. 

Madam Chairwoman and members of the subcommittee, this completes my 
prepared statement. I will be happy to respond to any questions that 
you or other members of the subcommittee have at this time. 

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

For information about this testimony, please contact Stephen L. 
Caldwell, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, at (202) 512- 
9610, or Contact points for our Office of 
Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last 
page of this statement. Individuals making key contributions to this 
testimony include Richard Ascarate, Jonathan Bachman, Jason Bair, 
Fredrick Berry, Christine Broderick, Stockton Butler, Steven Calvo, 
Frances Cook, Christopher Currie, Anthony DeFrank, Wayne Ekblad, 
Christine Fossett, Nkenge Gibson, Geoffrey Hamilton, Christopher 
Hatscher, Virginia Hughes, Valerie Kasindi, Monica Kelly, Ryan Lambert, 
Nicholas Larson, Daniel Klabunde, Matthew Lee, Gary Malavenda, Robert 
Rivas, Leslie Sarapu, James Shafer, Kate Siggerud, Daren Sweeney, and 
April Thompson. 

[End of section] 

GAO Related Products: 

Maritime Security: One Year Later: A Progress Report on the SAFE Port 
Act. GAO-08-171T. Washington, D.C.: October 16, 2007. 

Maritime Security: The SAFE Port Act and Efforts to Secure Our Nation's 
Seaports. GAO-08-86T. Washington, D.C.: October 4, 2007. 

Homeland Security: Preliminary Information on Federal Actions to 
Address Challenges Faced by State and Local Information Fusion Centers. 
GAO-07-1241T. Washington, D.C.: September 27, 2007. 

Combating Nuclear Smuggling: Additional Actions Needed to Ensure 
Adequate Testing of Next Generation of Radiation Detection Equipment. 
GAO-07-1247T. Washington, D.C.: September 18, 2007. 

Department of Homeland Security: Progress Report on Implementation of 
Mission and Management Functions. GAO-07-1240T. Washington, D.C.: 
September 18, 2007. 

Department of Homeland Security: Progress Report on Implementation of 
Mission and Management Functions. GAO-07-1081T. Washington, D.C.: 
September 6, 2007. 

Department of Homeland Security: Progress Report on Implementation of 
Mission and Management Functions. GAO-07-454. Washington, D.C.: August 
17, 2007. 

Homeland Security: Observations on DHS and FEMA Efforts to Prepare for 
and Respond to Major and Catastrophic Disasters and Address Related 
Recommendations and Legislation. GAO-07-1142T. Washington, D.C.: July 
31, 2007. 

Information on Port Security in the Caribbean Basin. GAO-07-804R. 
Washington, D.C.: June 29, 2007. 

Department of Homeland Security: Science and Technology Directorate's 
Expenditure Plan. GAO-07-868. Washington, D.C.: June 22, 2007. 

Homeland Security: Guidance from Operations Directorate Will Enhance 
Collaboration among Departmental Operations Centers. GAO-07-683T. 
Washington, D.C.: June 20, 2007. 

Department of Homeland Security: Progress and Challenges in 
Implementing the Department's Acquisition Oversight Plan. GAO-07-900. 
Washington, D.C.: June 13, 2007. 

Department of Homeland Security: Ongoing Challenges in Creating an 
Effective Acquisition Organization. GAO-07-948T. Washington, D.C.: June 
7, 2007. 

Homeland Security: Observations on DHS and FEMA Efforts to Prepare for 
and Respond to Major and Catastrophic Disasters and Address Related 
Recommendations and Legislation. GAO-07-835T. Washington, D.C.: May 15, 

Homeland Security: Management and Programmatic Challenges Facing the 
Department of Homeland Security. GAO-07-833T. Washington, D.C.: May 10, 

Maritime Security: Observations on Selected Aspects of the SAFE Port 
Act. GAO-07-754T. Washington, D.C.: April 26, 2007. 

Transportation Security: DHS Efforts to Eliminate Redundant Background 
Check Investigations. GAO-07-756. Washington, D.C.: April 26, 2007. 

International Trade: Persistent Weaknesses in the In-Bond Cargo System 
Impede Customs and Border Protection's Ability to Address Revenue, 
Trade, and Security Concerns. GAO-07-561. Washington, D.C.: April 17, 

Transportation Security: TSA Has Made Progress in Implementing the 
Transportation Worker Identification Credential Program, but Challenges 
Remain. GAO-07-681T. Washington, D.C.: April 12, 2007. 

Customs Revenue: Customs and Border Protection Needs to Improve 
Workforce Planning and Accountability. GAO-07-529. Washington, D.C.: 
April 12, 2007. 

Port Risk Management: Additional Federal Guidance Would Aid Ports in 
Disaster Planning and Recovery. GAO-07-412. Washington, D.C.: March 28, 

Combating Nuclear Smuggling: DNDO Has Not Yet Collected Most of the 
National Laboratories' Test Results on Radiation Portal Monitors in 
Support of DNDO's Testing and Development Programs. GAO-07-347R. 
Washington, D.C.: March 9, 2007. 

Combating Nuclear Smuggling: DHS's Cost-Benefit Analysis to Support the 
Purchase of New Radiation Detection Portal Monitors Was Not Based on 
Available Performance Data and Did Not Fully Evaluate All the Monitors' 
Costs and Benefits. GAO-07-133R. Washington, D.C.: October 17, 2006. 

Transportation Security: DHS Should Address Key Challenges before 
Implementing the Transportation Worker Identification Credential 
Program. GAO-06-982. Washington, D.C.: September 29, 2006. 

Maritime Security: Information-Sharing Efforts Are Improving. GAO-06- 
933T. Washington, D.C.: July 10, 2006. 

Cargo Container Inspections: Preliminary Observations on the Status of 
Efforts to Improve the Automated Targeting System. GAO-06-591T. 
Washington, D.C.: March 30, 2006. 

Combating Nuclear Smuggling: DHS Made Progress Deploying Radiation 
Detection Equipment at U.S. Ports of Entry, but Concerns Remain. GAO- 
06-389. Washington: D.C.: March 22, 2006. 

Managing for Results: Enhancing Agency Use of Performance Information 
for Management Decision Making. GAO-05-927. Washington, D.C.: September 
9, 2005. 

Combating Nuclear Smuggling: Efforts to Deploy Radiation Detection 
Equipment in the United States and in Other Countries. GAO-05-840T. 
Washington, D.C.: June 21, 2005. 

Container Security: A Flexible Staffing Model and Minimum Equipment 
Requirements Would Improve Overseas Targeting and Inspection Efforts. 
GAO-05-557. Washington, D.C.: April 26, 2005. 

Homeland Security: Key Cargo Security Programs Can Be Improved. GAO-05- 
466T. Washington, D.C.: May 26, 2005. 

Maritime Security: Enhancements Made, but Implementation and 
Sustainability Remain Key Challenges. GAO-05-448T. Washington, D.C.: 
May 17, 2005. 

Cargo Security: Partnership Program Grants Importers Reduced Scrutiny 
with Limited Assurance of Improved Security. GAO-05-404. Washington, 
D.C.: March 11, 2005. 

Maritime Security: New Structures Have Improved Information Sharing, 
but Security Clearance Processing Requires Further Attention. GAO-05- 
394. Washington, D.C.: April 15, 2005. 

Preventing Nuclear Smuggling: DOE Has Made Limited Progress in 
Installing Radiation Detection Equipment at Highest Priority Foreign 
Seaports. GAO-05-375. Washington, D.C.: March 30, 2005. 

Protection of Chemical and Water Infrastructure: Federal Requirements, 
Actions of Selected Facilities, and Remaining Challenges. GAO-05-327. 
Washington, D.C.: March 2005. 

Homeland Security: Process for Reporting Lessons Learned from Seaport 
Exercises Needs Further Attention. GAO-05-170. Washington, D.C.: 
January 14, 2005. 

Port Security: Better Planning Needed to Develop and Operate Maritime 
Worker Identification Card Program. GAO-05-106. Washington, D.C.: 
December 2004. 

Maritime Security: Substantial Work Remains to Translate New Planning 
Requirements into Effective Port Security. GAO-04-838. Washington, 
D.C.: June 2004. 

Homeland Security: Summary of Challenges Faced in Targeting Oceangoing 
Cargo Containers for Inspection. GAO-04-557T. Washington, D.C.: March 
31, 2004. 

Container Security: Expansion of Key Customs Programs Will Require 
Greater Attention to Critical Success Factors. GAO-03-770. Washington, 
D.C.: July 25, 2003. 

[End of section] 


[1] Pub. L. No. 109-347, 120 Stat. 1884 (2006). 

[2] Pub. L. No. 107-295, 116 Stat. 2064 (2002). 

[3] The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 
amended a SAFE Port Act provision on scanning all United States-bound 
containers at foreign ports. See Pub. L. No. 110-53, §1701(a), 121 
Stat. 266, 489-90. This amendment is discussed later in this testimony. 

[4] A list of related GAO products may be found at the end of this 

[5] The SAFE Port Act did not define "high-priority ports," but the 
Coast Guard identified a number of factors that it used in determining 
which ports are high-priority, including risk assessment data, port 
criticality ratings, and existing investments in facilities. 

[6] The Coast Guard has implemented a new field command structure that 
is designed to unify previously disparate Coast Guard units, such as 
air stations and marine safety offices, into 35 different integrated 
commands, called sectors. At each of these sectors, the Coast Guard has 
placed management and operational control of these units and their 
associated resources under the same commanding officer. 

[7] The Coast Guard shares some responsibilities with the U.S. Navy at 
four of these locations. These centers are located in Hampton Roads, 
Virginia; Jacksonville, Florida; San Diego, California; and Seattle, 

[8] See GAO, Maritime Security: New Structures Have Improved 
Information Sharing, but Security Clearance Processing Requires Further 
Attention, GAO-05-394 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 15, 2005); Maritime 
Security: Enhancements Made, but Implementation and Sustainability 
Remain Key Challenges, GAO-05-448T (Washington, D.C.: May 17, 2005); 
and Maritime Security: Information-Sharing Efforts Are Improving, GAO-
06-933T (Washington, D.C.: July 10, 2006). 

[9] According to the Coast Guard, these multiple interagency partners 
include CBP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of 
Defense, the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet) Program Office, 
and state and local partners. A pilot interagency operational center 
located in Charleston, South Carolina, known as Project Seahawk, is 
managed by the Department of Justice. It was created through an 
appropriation in the fiscal year 2003 Consolidated Appropriations 
Resolution (Pub. L. No. 108-7, 117 Stat. 11, 53 (2003.)). 

[10] See GAO, Maritime Security: Observations on Selected Aspects of 
the SAFE Port Act GAO-07-754T (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 26, 2007). 

[11] See GAO-06-933T and GAO-05-394. 

[12] In July 2007, the Coast Guard reported having granted security 
clearances to 212 area committee members with a need to know, which is 
an improvement from July 2006, when we reported 188 out of 467 members 
had received a security clearance to date. 

[13] The Coast Guard uses a three-tiered system of Maritime Security 
(MARSEC) levels consistent with DHS's Homeland Security Advisory System 
(HSAS). MARSEC levels are designed to provide a means to easily 
communicate preplanned scalable responses to increased threat levels. 

[14] NVICs provide detailed guidance about enforcement or compliance 
with certain Coast Guard safety regulations and programs. NVIC 9-02, 
most recently revised on October 27, 2005, detailed requirements for 

[15] The MIRP, one of the eight supporting plans of the National 
Strategy for Maritime Security, is intended to facilitate the 
restoration of maritime commerce after a terrorist attack or natural 

[16] DHS released the Strategy to Enhance the International Supply 
Chain in July 2007. This strategy contains a plan to speed the 
resumption of trade in the event of a terrorist attack on our ports or 
waterways, as required in the SAFE Port Act. 

[17] All-hazards emergency preparedness efforts seek to prepare all 
sectors of American society--business, industry, and nonprofit; 
territorial, local, and tribal governments; and the general public--for 
all hazards the nation may face, i.e., any large-scale emergency event, 
including terrorist attacks and natural or accidental disasters. 

[18] See GAO, Port Risk Management: Additional Federal Guidance Would 
Aid Ports in Disaster Planning and Recovery, GAO-07-412 (Washington, 
D.C.: Mar. 28, 2007). 

[19] See GAO, Homeland Security: Process for Reporting Lessons Learned 
from Seaport Exercises Needs Further Attention,GAO-05-170 (Washington, 
D.C.: Jan. 14, 2005); and GAO-07-412. 

[20] The International Port Security Program uses the ISPS Code as the 
benchmark by which it measures the effectiveness of a country's anti- 
terrorism measures in a port. The code was developed after the 9/11 
attacks and established measures to enhance the security of ships and 
port facilities with a standardized and consistent security framework. 
The ISPS code requires facilities to conduct an assessment to identify 
threats and vulnerabilities and then develop security plans based on 
the assessment. The requirements of this code are performance-based; 
therefore compliance can be achieved through a variety of security 

[21] In addition to the Coast Guard visiting the ports of foreign 
countries under this program, countries can also make reciprocal visits 
to U.S. ports to observe U.S. implementation of the ISPS Code, 
obtaining ideas for implementation of the code in their ports and 
sharing best practices for security. 

[22] See H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 109-699, at 142 (2006). 

[23] There are approximately 140 countries that are maritime trading 
partners with the United States. 

[24] See GAO, Information on Port Security in the Caribbean Basin, GAO- 
07-804R (Washington, D.C.: June 29, 2007). 

[25] Requirements for security plans for facilities are found in 33 
C.F.R. Part 105, Subpart D. 

[26] See GAO, Maritime Security: Substantial Work Remains to Translate 
New Planning Requirements into Effective Port Security, GAO-04-838 
(Washington, D.C.: June 30, 2004). 

[27] See GAO, Managing for Results: Enhancing Agency Use of Performance 
Information for Management Decision Making, GAO-05-97 (Washington, 
D.C.: Sept. 23, 2005). 

[28] See GAO, Port Security: Better Planning Needed to Develop and 
Operate Maritime Worker Identification Card Program, GAO-05-106 
(Washington, D.C.: Dec. 10, 2004); and Transportation Security: DHS 
Should Address Key Challenges before Implementing the Transportation 
Worker Identification Credential Program, GAO-06-982 (Washington, D.C.: 
Sept. 29, 2006). 

[29] See GAO, Transportation Security: TSA Has Made Progress in 
Implementing the Transportation Worker Identification Credential 
Program, but Challenges Remain, GAO-07-681T (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 12, 

[30] These additional ports include Corpus Christi, Texas; Baton Rouge, 
Louisiana; Beaumont, Texas; Honolulu, Hawaii; Oakland, California; 
Tacoma, Washington; Chicago/Calumet, Illinois; Houston, Texas; Port 
Arthur, Texas; Providence, Rhode Island; and Savannah, Georgia. 

[31] The National Commission On Terrorist Attacks Upon the United 
States, Final Report of the National Commission On Terrorist Attacks 
Upon the United States, Washington, D.C.: Jul. 22, 2004). 

[32] TSA determined that the background checks required for the 
hazardous materials endorsement (an endorsement that authorizes an 
individual to transport hazardous materials for commerce) and the Free 
and Secure Trade card (a voluntary CBP program that allows commercial 
drivers to receive expedited border processing) satisfy the background 
check requirements for TWIC. TSA also determined that an individual 
issued a Merchant Mariner Document (issued between February 3, 2003, 
and March 26, 2007) was not subject to an additional background check 
for TWIC. 

[33] The SAFE Port Act required that GAO conduct a study of the 
background records checks carried out for DHS that are similar to the 
one required of truck drivers to obtain a hazardous material 
endorsement. Pub. L. No. 109-347, §105 120 Stat. 1884, 1891 (2006). See 
GAO, Transportation Security: Efforts to Eliminate Redundant Background 
Check Investigations, GAO-07-756 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 26, 2007). 

[34] The term "harmonize" is used to describe efforts to increase 
efficiency and reduce redundancies by aligning the background check 
requirements to make the programs more consistent. 

[35] Cargo manifests are prepared by the ocean carrier to describe the 
contents of a container. 

[36] For a summary of these reviews, see GAO, Cargo Container 
Inspections: Preliminary Observations on the Status of Efforts to 
Improve the Automated Targeting System, GAO-06-591T (Washington, D.C.: 
Mar. 30, 2006). 

[37] The Comptroller General's internal control standards state that 
internal control activities help ensure that management's directives 
are carried out. Further, they state that the control objectives should 
be effective and efficient in accomplishing the agency's control 
objectives. GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal 
Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1, 11 (Washington, D.C.: November 1999). 

[38] Smart features include more complex algorithms and real-time 

[39] See GAO, International Trade: Persistent Weaknesses in the In-Bond 
Cargo System Impede Customs and Border Protection's Ability to Address 
Revenue, Trade, and Security Concerns, GAO-07-561, (Washington, D.C.: 
Apr. 17, 2007). 

[40] In-bond goods must be transported by a carrier covered by a CBP- 
approved bond that allows goods that have not yet entered U.S. commerce 
to move through the United States. The bond is a contract given to 
ensure performance of obligations imposed by law or regulation and 
guarantees payment to CBP if these obligations are not performed. 

[41] CBP cannot assess the extent of the program because it does not 
collect accurate information on the value and volume of in-bond cargo, 
and its analysis of existing data is limited to the number of in-bond 

[42] Although an in-bond form is required for in-bond movement, it does 
not have the same level of detail contained in entry documents, and 
data from the form are not used to update ATS scores. 

[43] Entry information is documentation to declare items arriving in 
the United States. Entry information allows CBP to determine what is 
included in a shipment, and provides more detail on a container's 
contents than manifest information. 

[44] These four ports were Los Angeles, Long Beach, Newark, and New 

[45] GAO-07-561. 

[46] A core element of CSI is the use of technology to scan--to capture 
data including images of cargo container contents--high-risk containers 
to ensure that examinations can be done rapidly without slowing down 
the movement of trade. This technology can include equipment such as 
large-scale X-ray and gamma ray machines and radiation detection 

[47] See GAO, Container Security: A Flexible Staffing Model and Minimum 
Equipment Requirements Would Improve Overseas Targeting and Inspection 
Efforts, GAO-05-557 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 26, 2005), and Container 
Security: Expansion of Key Customs Programs Will Require Greater 
Attention to Critical Success Factors, GAO-03-770 (Washington, D.C.: 
July 25, 2003). 

[48] See GAO-05-557. 

[49] The WCO is an international organization aimed at enhancing the 
effectiveness and efficiency of customs administrations. 

[50] See GAO, Cargo Security: Partnership Program Grants Importers 
Reduced Scrutiny with Limited Assurance of Improved Security, GAO-05-
404 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 2005); and GAO-03-770. 

[51] See GAO-05-404. 

[52] See GAO, Combating Nuclear Smuggling: Additional Actions Needed to 
Ensure Adequate Testing of Next Generation Radiation Detection 
Equipment, GAO-07-1247T (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 18, 2007); Combating 
Nuclear Smuggling: DNDO Has Not Yet Collected Most of the National 
Laboratories' Test Results on Radiation Portal Monitors in Support of 
DNDO's Testing and Development Program, GAO-07-347R (Washington, D.C.: 
Mar. 9, 2007); Combating Nuclear Smuggling: DHS's Cost-Benefit Analysis 
to Support the Purchase of New Radiation Detection Portal Monitors Was 
Not Based on Available Performance Data and Did Not Fully Evaluate All 
the Monitors' Cost and Benefits, GAO-07-133R (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 
17, 2006); Combating Nuclear Smuggling: DHS Has Made Progress Deploying 
Radiation Detection Equipment at U.S. Ports of Entry, but Concerns 
Remain, GAO-06-389 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 22, 2006). 

[53] See GAO-06-389. 

[54] DNDO, Cost Benefit Analysis for Next Generation Passive Radiation 
Detection of Cargo at the Nation's Border Crossings, May 30, 2006. 

[55] See GAO-07-133R. 

[56] See GAO-07-1247T. 

[57] For additional information, see GAO, Preventing Nuclear Smuggling: 
DOE Has Made Limited Progress in Installing Radiation Detection 
Equipment at Highest Priority Foreign Seaports, GAO-05-375 (Washington, 
D.C.: Mar. 31, 2005). 

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