Security needs outpace appropriations, said Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). This despite an anticipated funding level of $175 million that was agreed to by congressional leaders.
Over the past five rounds of security funding, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provided approximately $707 million in security grants to ports, including $75 million from the DHS Urban Area Security Initiative program.
Though AAPA, which represents public ports throughout the Western Hemisphere, was pleased that the U.S. Congress “has recognized that port security is still an important priority,” Nagle said, “We’re still a long way from meeting the needs of the ports.” To date, he pointed out, total grant requests are over $3.78 billion while grant awards have been less than one fifth of that amount.
“To help protect ports against crime and terrorism, AAPA has called for a funding level of $400 million a year to harden security at all seaports that need to comply with the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA),” Nagle said.
With the value of foreign trade rising to 24 times its 1970 level by 2003, AAPA points out the rate of growth has been particularly strong in recent years, up 70% since 1994.
The DHS funds are part of the Fiscal Year 2006 budget which must be approved by the House of Representatives and Senate.