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AAPA calls for flexibility with CBP staffing, facilities for cruise ports

AAPA calls for flexibility with CBP staffing, facilities for cruise ports
The need for Customs and Border Protection to be flexible with staffing and facilities requirements to serve the cruise business was underscored in written testimony by the American Association of Port Authorities for a Senate hearing Wednesday.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs delved into port security progress and challenges.

In his written remarks, AAPA president Kurt Nagle focused on dramatic cuts to Port Security Grant funding, issues with mandated cargo scanning for nuclear devices and problems and delays with the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program.

But the AAPA chief also singled out CBP issues related to the cruise business. Nagle said the agency 'needs to provide officers and flexible low-cost facilities for the changing cruise market ... especially in seasonal areas as well as areas of growth. Flexibility is key to the cruise market.

'CBP’s design standards, especially in the cruise area, also need to be more flexible and should not be so costly or over-built that they result in a large financial burden to seaports,' Nagle added.

As earlier reported, AAPA's cruise committee this year formed a subcommittee to address staffing and facilities design requirements for US ports of entry.

CBP staffing models are static, whereas cruise ship schedules often require flexibility. For example, most CBP inspectors are deployed to seaports from airports and, in some cases, hours of travel time and overnight expenses and overtime costs may be involved.

Facilities design requirements have been a long-running concern for ports. The CBP standards may require extensive facilities that small ports can't afford. This is particularly burdensome for seasonal destinations. Some ports have built facilities that are not used or are underutilized when staffing levels don't match the facilities.