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Optimizing your Facility Security Plan (FSP)

Port security funds are supposed to be allocated to projects that will have the greatest impact. So, why would scarce taxpayer dollars be spent on fences and cameras to protect non-threatening areas such as settling ponds far away from the nearest waterway? The answer, most likely, is human error. The International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code requires port facilities around the globe to comply with the maritime security requirements of the Code. For U.S. port facilities, the U.S. Coast Guard regulations derived from Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) of 2002 provided a definition of the term “facility.” However, many years later, there are still conflicting opinions regarding what portions of a facility must be included under the maritime security regulations. The definition of a facility, beyond the description of the waterfront portion, calls for “any contiguous or adjoining property” to be included. Despite this definition, some facilities simply fenced off their docks, called that their facility, and got away with it. Other similar facilities were required to spend tens of thousands of dollars on fencing and other access control issues for their entire property.To clarify “contiguous property,” the Coast Guard published guidance which states that in a case where a public street (such as a river road) splits a facility property, the maritime security regulations may only apply to the water side of the road. The example used in the policy guidance is an oil or hazardous material transfer facility with a pipeline crossing over the road. Despite this guidance, there are many facilities where the regulations have been applied to both sides of the road. In addition to costing facilities a great deal of money having to implement a set of regulations where they shouldn’t apply, port security grant money is allocated in some cases to secure areas that are no threat at all of a transportation security incident (TSI). It’s important to get a facility’s footprint correct, not only to save the facility money on implementation issues such as Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) requirements, but to ensure that the country’s limited maritime security resources are spent where the threat is the greatest.   Some Coast Guard personnel may attribute this disparity to individual Captain of the Port (COTP) authority. But in reality, many of these mistakes were made initially due to a lack of understanding of the applicability and policy guidance. We have been successful in getting a number of these facility footprints corrected through the Coast Guard’s formal appeals process, saving the facilities thousands of dollars and hopefully avoiding future misappropriation of port security grant money.   Industry should not shy away from questioning the opinions of enforcement personnel out of fear of retaliation. The Coast Guard’s policy is that it encourages appeals from industry. Everyone benefits from a constructive dialogue. Going along with things that you know are incorrect usually just leaves you chasing your tail every time a new inspector shows up.
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