Laurie Thomas, one of my go-to-sources for MTSA information, posted a comment on my recent blog about Port Security Grant legislation. She offered this alternative explanation for the purpose of HR 5802:
“I have a slightly different slant on HR 5802. I see this as an attempt to grant industry some relief on TWIC readers. PAC 01-11 states that industry stakeholders who have purchased TWIC readers that subsequently do not meet regulatory requirements will not be reimbursed for the cost of replacement.”
This is a very likely source of Rep. Richardson’s (D,CA) concern about equipment replacement costs since she represents areas supporting two of the largest ports on the West Coast. If this was the sole intent, however, it is not properly reflected in the language of the bill. The bill does not restrict the grant support to just replacement TWIC Readers, so it may end up diluting the funds available for that purpose by a number of grant requests for supporting the replacement of other, even more expensive, port security equipment.
Laurie’s comment also takes a well-deserved dig at DHS for having been slow to implement provisions of the Safe Port Act. Like a number of other security requirements established by legislation, the current (and to be fair, the previous) Administration has been slow to develop regulations supporting the requirements of the Safe Port Act. Perhaps Congress ought to look at cutting funding for other DHS offices the way the House Appropriations Committee has proposed for the CFATS program.