More than 3 years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, concerns remain over the security of U.S. seaports and waterways. Seaports and waterways are vulnerable given their size, easy accessibility by water and land, large numbers of potential targets, and close proximity to urban areas. Seaports are also a critical link in the international supply chain, which has its own potential vulnerabilities that terrorists could exploit to transport a weapon of mass destruction to the United States. Federal agencies such as the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection and other seaport stakeholders such as state and local law enforcement officials as well as owners and operators of facilities and vessels have taken actions to try to mitigate these vulnerabilities and enhance maritime security. This testimony, which is based on previously completed GAO work, reports on (1) the types of actions taken by the federal government and other stakeholders to address maritime security, (2) the main challenges that GAO observed in taking these actions, and (3) what tools and approaches may be useful in planning future actions to enhance maritime security.
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