The Last Word: How the proposed cuts to the DHS’s Port Security Grant program will affect U.S. ports



Susan Monteverde, Government Relations Vice President of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA)


“The Port Security Grant program provides needed federal help to harden security at U.S. ports. Most port areas have developed five-year plans to enhance security by ranking projects based on risk. By decreasing this funding, these five-year plans cannot be carried out, leaving critical security enhancements undone

“Additionally, these funds are used to help maintain current levels of security by providing funds for maintenance and replacement of broken systems in order to sustain a certain capability. Reducing these funds by two-thirds will surely have a negative impact on our current ability to protect America’s ports, as well as plans for future improvements.

“In meetings with Obama Administration officials, key staff in the Department of Homeland Security, and with staff of Members in both chambers of Congress, AAPA is encouraging all concerned to come to agreement on a budget for FY 2011 and FY 2012 that cuts wasteful spending but raises the funding priority for freight-handling initiatives and preserves needed national investments in port security and transportation infrastructure.

“AAPA is expressing both optimism and disappointment over various aspects of the Obama Administration’s fiscal 2012 proposed budget, primarily as it pertains to seaports and the efficient, safe and cost-effective movement of freight.

“A potential bright spot in the FY’12 budget for seaports in the Administration’s heightened commitment to infrastructure investment. The budget includes a robust, six-year, US$556 billion surface transportation authorization proposal, as well as a $50 billion up-front, first-year outlay, which provides $2 billion for a National Infrastructure Investments program, similar to the TIGER discretionary grants program in FY’10. However, we’re concerned that the expanded variety of modes in the new I-Bank compared to TIGER, such as aviation infrastructure, could cause funding for seaport-related infrastructure to be overshadowed. Ultimately, there needs to be a heightened federal focus on freight transportation if the I-Bank model is adopted.

“Even less encouraging for ports are the cuts the FY’12 proposed budget makes to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program and the Port Security Grant program, as well as elimination of funding altogether for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program.

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