GAO report - Port security programs 

June 4: The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) today published a report concerning progress and challenges in key areas of port security programs, based on work GAO previously conducted from September 2003 to September 2013 with selected updates conducted through May 2014.

The GAO report is: Maritime Security: Progress and Challenges with Selected Port Security Programs, GAO-14-636T (June 4, 2014)

Reasons for the GAO report

According to the GAO report [PDF 1.76 MB], ports are inherently vulnerable to terrorist attacks because of their size, general proximity to metropolitan areas, the volume of cargo being processed, and their link to the global supply chain. Balancing security concerns with facilitation of the free flow of people and commerce remains an ongoing challenge for federal, state, local, and private stakeholders operating in ports.


In this report, the GAO addressed:


  • Maritime domain awareness and information sharing
  • Security in domestic ports
  • Protection of the global supply chain

GAO recommendations

The GAO made recommendations to strengthen various port security programs, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security generally concurred with these recommendations and has taken actions, or has actions under way, to address most of these recommendations.



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