03-31-2017 By Laurie Thomas, Maritime Security Outlook Contributor
On March 30, 2017, Sen John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced S.763, the Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act. Sen. Thune is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. He’s been in the Senate since 2005 and has served in powerful positions within that body. From Sen. Thune’s website, at https://www.thune.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=065CC562-BCB2-49FD-82EA-6CE3285E7947:
U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Science, Commerce, and Transportation, joined Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in reintroducing S. 763, the Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act. The legislation, which is substantially similar to the bill introduced late last Congress, would address deficiencies in the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) efforts to protect rail, transit, highway, and maritime passenger and freight transportation.
“To keep Americans safe, Congress must continually focus attention on areas of neglect and potential weakness to keep them from becoming targets for terrorism,” said Thune. “The Commerce Committee will soon vote on these important reforms for the TSA.”
The legislation would address concerns, raised by independent government watchdog agencies, that TSA is not adequately positioned to identify security risks across different modes of transportation or effectively support federal, state, local and private providers of transportation security. TSA has previously said in testimony to Congress that it uses only three percent of its budget on surface transportation security.
Highlights of the Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act:
Enhances Risk-Based Security Planning
- Requires the TSA administrator to conduct a risk analysis and implement a risk-based security model for surface transportation facilities.
- Mandates risk-based budgeting for surface transportation security focusing resources on current threats with annual reviews of program effectiveness.
Canine Explosive Detection Teams for Surface Transportation
- Authorizes as many as 70 additional canine teams to work in surface transportation security as soon as possible.
- Requires a review of the number, location, and utilization of canine teams in surface transportation security to ensure effective use.
- Following this review and the implementation of recommendations, TSA may then raise the total number of canine teams to 200 or higher as identified in TSA’s risk-based analysis.
- Mirroring the advisory committee for aviation established by the Aviation Security Stakeholder Participation Act of 2014, establishes a Surface Transportation Advisory Committee to provide stakeholders and the public with the opportunity to coordinate with the agency and comment on policy and pending regulations.
- Requires that TSA budget submissions clearly indicate which resources will be used for surface transportation security and which will be dedicated to aviation.
- Directs TSA to regularly update Congress on the status of long overdue surface transportation rulemakings.
Enhances Passenger Rail Security
- Authorizes the use of computerized vetting systems for passenger rail at the request of Amtrak police and the Amtrak Board of Directors.
- Allows grant funding to be used to enhance passenger manifest data so that rail passengers can be identified in case of emergency.
From a quick read of the text of the bill, link from the Senator's website:
The vulnerability assessment off surface transportation modes required of the bill must evaluate the vetting and security training of employees in maritime transportation and other individuals with access to sensitive or secure areas of transportation networks.
The Commandant of the Coast Guard shall coordinate with the Administrator (of the TSA) to provide input and other information regarding the vulnerabilities of and risks to maritime facilities.
RISK-BASED SECURITY STRATEGY-
(1) In GENERAL - Not later than 180 days after the date the security assessment from subsection (a) is complete, the Administrator shall use the results of the assessment-
(A) to develop and implement a cross-cutting, risk-based security strategy that includes
(i) all surface transportation modes;
(ii) to the extent the Transportation Security Administration provides support in maritime transportation security efforts, maritime transportation;
(B) coordinate with the Commandant of the Coast Guard-
(i) to evaluate existing maritime transportation security programs, policies, and initiatives for consistency with the risk-based security strategy and, to the extent practicable, avoid any unnecessary duplication of effort;
(ii) to ensure there are no security gaps between jurisdictional authorities that a threat can exploit to cause harm;
(iii) to determine the extent to which stakeholder security programs, policies, and initiatives address the vulnerabilities and risks to maritime transportation systems, identified in subsection (a); and
(iv) subject to clauses (ii) and (iii), to mitigate each vulnerability and risk to maritime transportation systems identified in subsection (a).
180 days after the date that the security assessment is completed, TSA shall submit to the appropriate Congressional committees a report that includes, among other items, any recommended changes to the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, the modal annexes to the NIPP, or relevant surface or maritime transportation security programs, policies, or initiatives.
BUDGET TRANSPARENCY - ln submitting the annual budget of the United States Government under Section 1105 of title 81, United States Code, the President shall clearly distinguish the resources requested for surface and maritime transportation security from the resources requested for aviation security.
SURFACE TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE - The TSA Administrator shall establish within the TSA the Surface Transportation Security Advisory Committee. Voting members to serve in a volunteer, non-paid basis and consist of representatives from associations representing the modes of surface transportation; labor organizations representing the modes; groups representing the users of the modes, including asset manufacturers, as appropriate; relevant law enforcement, first responders, and security experts; and other groups as the Administrator considers appropriate.