Observations Concerning Plans and Programs To Assure the Continuity of Vital Wartime Movements Through U.S. Ports

NSIAD-83-18: Published: Aug 30, 1983. Publicly Released: Aug 30, 1983.

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GAO conducted a study of defense and civil agencies' current efforts to ensure that U.S. ports can sustain military deployment operations during mobilization given the number of public and private organizations involved. The United States would be very dependent on ports during a war because troops and material would be transported by ships and, as a result, a need exists for secure operational ports.

GAO found that the Departments of Defense and Transportation, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are aware of the many problems identified from planning for mobilization, preparing risk assessments, undertaking programs to assist local agencies in responding to wartime contingencies, conducting tests and exercises of ports' wartime capabilities, and holding conferences to enable participants to jointly explore common port operational problems. Although the agencies are taking corrective actions or developing initiatives, GAO determined that the following issues should be considered: (1) planning gaps; (2) the division of responsibility among various participants involved in movements through ports during mobilization; and (3) the roles and authority of key agencies. GAO is also concerned about the absence of an organization to integrate the results of agency efforts and to assess the overall impact of identified deficiencies on port operations. Since attempts to coordinate agency efforts in port operations have not been fully successful, the affected agencies need to decide who should take the lead in optimizing the many agency efforts so that available resources are targeted in crucial areas.

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