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December 11, 2003

TSA announces $179 million in port security grants

U.S. ports seeking federal grants for 1,065 security enhancement measures learned yesterday that 442 of the plans will be funded. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge named recipients of $179,025,900 in the third round of federal grants for port security. To download a PDF spreadsheet of who got how much and for what, click here.

The Department of Homeland Security says these latest awards will "contribute to important security upgrades like new patrol boats in the harbor, surveillance equipment and the construction of new command and control facilities.

The Transportation Security Administration, the United States Coast Guard and the Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration evaluated the Port Security Grant Applications and selected the grant award recipients. The latest round of grants has been awarded to 442 projects in 326 locations to 235 applicant organizations from across the U.S.

"The Department is committed to improving security at our maritime facilities, and we know that our ports are not secured from Washington," said Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson. "The relationship between the government and the private companies that run these facilities is a crucial one that we are committed to strengthening to protect our nation's ports."

The AAPA (American Association of Port Authorities) says that applications totaling over $987 million had been submitted by ports across the country seeking funding assistance in order to comply with new U.S. Coast Guard security regulations that take effect next year. The grants anounced yesterday are a combination of $104 million in FY 02 funds and a portion of the $125 million in FY04 appropriations for port security.

"We applaud TSA for providing a considerable portion of the 2004 appropriation in this round of grants to help secure America's ports," stated AAPA President Kurt Nagle. "It is vital for our nation's security that these investments in port security be made in a timely manner."

Nagle says federal assistance is key to ensuring ports can address enhanced security demands.

"Public ports' financial resources pale in comparison to the enormous needs, yet America cannot afford for port security to go underfunded," said Nagle. "While the latest round of funding is significant, it covers only about 18 percent of the costs ports identified in the security projects set forth in their recent applications."

Nagle said ports have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars to boost security since 9/11, and expenses continue to rise. According to U.S. Coast Guard estimates, ports will need to spend $5.4 billion on enhanced security measures over the next ten years to comply with new federal regulations mandated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), with $1.125 billion of that to be invested in the first year alone.

To help ports implement these heightened requirements MTSA calls for a federal grant program for port security. Since September 11, 2001, Congress has appropriated three rounds of TSA port security grants totaling $513.2 million and one $75 million grant from the Office of Domestic Preparedness. However, the AAPA says substantially greater resources are needed. For FY05, AAPA urges a federal funding level of $400 million for TSA's port security grant program to cost-share with local port authorities and facility operators to make the enhancements required under the new regulations.

While ports are challenged to manage security expenses of unprecedented magnitude, Nagle said they must simultaneously carry out their vital role as America's commerce catalyst. With 95 percent of international trade passing through U.S. ports and trade projected to more than double by 2020, ports are finding it necessary to spend about $1.7 billion per year on operations and another $1.5 billion annually on capital improvements to support burgeoning trade growth.

"International trade has been growing steadily each year, with strong benefits to the American economy," said Nagle. "But that can only continue if ports are prepared to handle it--and that means investing now in both the immediate and long-range future. In terms of security, both physical and economic security are paramount to the country's wellbeing. America simply can't afford to compromise one for the other."

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