U.S ports are significant to the U.S. economy, handling more than 2 billion tons of domestic and import/export cargo annually. Since Sept. 11, 2001, much of the national focus on ports' preparedness has been on preventing potential acts of terror, the 2005 hurricane season renewed focus on how to protect ports from a diversity of threats, including natural disasters. This report was prepared under the authority of the Comptroller General to examine (1) challenges port authorities have experienced as a result of recent natural disasters, (2) efforts under way to address these challenges, and (3) the manner in which port authorities plan for natural disasters. GAO reviewed documents and interviewed various port stakeholders from 17 major U.S. ports.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Homeland Security||1. To help ensure that ports achieve adequate planning for natural disasters and effectively manage risk to a variety of threats, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should encourage port stakeholders to use existing forums for discussing all-hazards planning efforts and include appropriate representatives from DHS, the port authority, representatives from the local emergency management office, the Maritime Administration, and vessel and facility owner/operators.|
|Department of Transportation||2. To help ensure that ports have adequate understanding of maritime disaster recovery resources, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation should direct the administrator of the Maritime Administration to develop a communication strategy to inform ports of the maritime resources available for recovery efforts.|