Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Minor Tweak to the Blog

Thanks to John Bennett for pointing out that most of my reference links were broken. I'm not sure why, but Homeport won't let you view the documents unless you're openining them from Homeport. It doesn't make any sense, but I'm too confused to figure it out.

Anyway, I fixed it so that the links will take you the appropriate page to find the information referenced. Please let me know if this isn't the case.

The NMSAC Year in Review

As 2008 draws to a close, I figured I'd give a wrap up of the work the NMSAC accomplished this year.

This year we welcomed 6 new committee members, bringing our total number of committee members to 21! (on a side note, I'm going to start a regular "meet your committee" segment on the blog, so you can get to know who's who).

NMSAC was tasked with several items in 2008 (some of which I've discussed in previous blog entries). The first was an identification of the greatest national maritime security concerns that will be confronting the industry in the next two years. At it’s April meeting, the committee identified 8 issues that they felt were significant to the Maritime Industry, you can read about it here:

The second was an analysis of the Transportation Security User Fee Study requirement identified by Title XIII, Section 1308 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007. NMSAC recommended, “…that the Department not consider the development of a new security user fee or a new ‘system of maritime security and transportation-related user fees’”. This information was used to inform the Department as it conducted its User Fee study. You can find the complete report here.

NMSAC was also tasked to develop a working group to examine and quantify the extent to which the issue of seafarer’s access to shore leave is a problem and develop a set of reasonable solutions/recommendations that the Department can use in addressing the issue. You can read that blog post here.

The NMSAC TWIC Working Group submitted a report at the request of TSA and the Coast Guard to provide a “health check” of the TWIC program as it continued its roll out. The report highlighted multiple issues that have either been addressed or are being addressed by TSA and the Coast Guard. You can read about it here. The dialogue between the TWIC working group and the Department will continue as this program matures.

On a final note, As directed by Congress in the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, The authorization for NMSAC's existance was set to expire on September 30, 2008. NMSAC Staff worked with Coast Guard Legislative staff to incorporate language into the most recent CG Authorization bill that would reauthorize the committee until 2020. Congressional approval was unable to be secured for the bill (both versions of which had the language re-authorizing the committee). As a result, the CG was forced to restructure the charter of the Committee re-establishing it as a discretionary committee until such time as legislative authorization is secured. The new Charter was signed on September 30, 2008.

So, what's on the agenda for NMSAC in the future? Well, we're still chugging along on this Social Media train. We've got a few plans in the works to include regular podcasts, videos, and guests posts from CG staff and our committee members. I also recently linked up this blog via twitterfeed to my Twitter account to push the word out on the excellent work the committee is doing. If you have any additional suggestions, please let me know, I can always use good ideas!

Have a Great Holidays, everyone! We'll see you in 2009!

Friday, October 31, 2008

USCG/CBP Joint Command Centers

One of the key Maritime Security issues of particular interest to the NMSAC was the implementation of the USCG/CBP Joint Command Centers. At our September meeting CAPTAIN Scott LaRochelle, head of the Office of Shore Forces at CG HQ (CG-741, for those of you who get off on the numbering scheme), provided the committee a breakdown of the CG's efforts to date (you can see his official presentation here)

Identified as the Interagency Operation Centers/Command 21 (or IOC/C21 for you acronym types), the initiative has identified several current gaps that exist with the current state of Sector Command Centers (Basic awareness of vessel activities near vulnerable port and coastal infrastructure, Systems linking ever-increasing volume of information with vessels to help determine threat and develop the correct course of action, Infrastructure for effective information sharing and joint operations with port partners).

Ultimately, the IOC/C21 initiative will provide three distinct areas of new capability:
  1. Robust information management tools to improve interagency coordination, enhance situational awareness, and automate anomaly detection;
  2. Facilities to accommodate port partners, host daily coordination activities, and provide space for surge ops, and;
  3. An adaptable sensor network to actively monitor critical port and coastal infrastructure & waterways

the NMSAC was curious as to what the difference between this initiative and all of the state and local "Fusion Centers" that are popping up (especially those that are being funded with Homeland Security and Port Security Grant Money). CAPT LaRochelle provided a paper to help explain the difference.

From the Paper:

"The purpose of the IOC is to improve unity of effort among all Federal,
State and local stakeholders in critical port areas by organizing, coordinating,
and managing operational planning, mission execution, and resource allocation.
The goal of this coordination is to create “operational fusion,” e.g. the effective shared execution of mission related activities."


"The [State and Major Urban Area Fusion Centers] SFC collects, organizes, focuses, combines and disseminates information from a number of classified and unclassified information resources to detect terrorist and illegal activities. The National Strategy for Information Sharing (NSIS) describes SFCs as the primary focal point within the state and local environment for the receipt and sharing of terrorism-related information, homeland security information and law enforcement information related to terrorism. The SFCs will customize federally supplied information to meet State needs."

The Paper goes into much more greater detail, but the gist of it is the the IOC is an operational coordination entity while the SFC is being considered an information collection and dissemination entity.

The changing face of NMSAC

I've been reading a wonderful new book, groundswell; winning in a world transformed by social technologies. It's really opening my eyes to how methodical you need to be when implementing a web 2.0 or social networking environment, I highly recommend it.

You should also head over to An Unofficial Coast Guard Blog, they've been on the tip of the spear, so to speak, in pushing these concepts in the CG.

As to our attempts here in the NMSAC, we're taking a little more of a slow bell. First off, as I said in our first post, we're governed by a set of regulations (41 CFR Parts 101-6 and 102-3) born out of the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972. You can check out GSA's really informative site on the FACA here.

In any event, while the spirit of the regulations lend themselves to harnessing the the web 2.0 paradigm, I've had to take a careful approach and fully engage our crack FACA legal minds to make sure we don't stray too far out of the box. The reality is that NMSAC is breaking the trail in regards to FACA and web 2.0, we want to do it right.

I'm also grappling with something I'm not sure is being highlighted in everyone else's foray into the web 2.0 waters; currently my key demographics are folks who are, generationaly speaking, behind the times. They've learned to leverage (or ignore) web 1.0, I don't think they fully understand or want to understand this next evolution. Is it worth our while to run full steam ahead on Wikis, forums, tweets, social networking, etc... when the vast majority of our audience won't use it? Any one else experience that?

Monday, October 27, 2008

TWIC, TWIC, baby

I'm going to start this entry off with 1 ground rule:

Please do not ask me to try and find out the status of your TWIC enrollment, I won't do it. If you need information, please call the TWIC hot line at: 1-866-DHS-TWIC (1-866-347-8942). You can also check out their website at www.tsa.gov/twic. Finally, you can shoot them an email at credentialing@dhs.gov.

Bottom line, I'm just here to give you a breakdown of what NMSAC has done to advance the TWIC effort, I am not a TWIC insider (nor would I ever, in my wildest dreams, wish to be).

So, now that we have that out of the way, let's begin with NMSAC and TWIC...

NMSAC has been involved with TWIC almost from it's (NMSAC's) inception. Two years ago, NMSAC was tasked to:

"Develop a contactless biometric specification for the TWIC. Working with the Transportation Security Administration and the Coast Guard, augment the Credentialing Work Group, or form a new work group with appropriate members of the biometric industry, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the General Services Administration (GSA) to perform this work, applying expertise both from the biometric credentialing industry and maritime industry TWIC stakeholders. Provide an opportunity for public comment on a draft specification and incorporate comments into a final specification. The specification developed shall be:
a. Non-proprietary;
b. Incorporating appropriate security and privacy controls;
c. Interoperable with FIPS 201-1;
d. Capable of being a platform for future capabilities;
e. Capable of supporting maritime operations;
f. Suitable for manufacturing."

In response, NMSAC provided this response. For the most part, DHS has tried to address most of the concerns brought up by NMSAC.

A report , issued by the NMSAC's TWIC working group, in response to a tasking to provide a “health check” on the TWIC roll out endeavor, however, seemed to highlight some miscommunication between DHS and the general public. Suffice it to say the report generated quite a buzz in the media...

At the September 18 meeting, a joint TSA/USCG response was submitted back to the NMSAC to help address the laundry list of issues brought forward by the TWIC working group. The report highlights that many of the issues raised by the working group are documented and if not already resolved, are being worked on by TSA and the CG to be resolved.

What's next? A follow on WG is scheduled next month to go more in depth to the TSA/CG response, hopefully more information can be reported on then. For those of you who want more detailed information on the TWIC roll out and implementation, I would suggest checking out the TWIC dashboard, a useful tool that provides regular updates. You can find that and more at http://www.tsa.gov/twic

Seafarer's Access to Shore Leave (Pt. 2)

This was in the works when I posted last about the issue, but I needed to keep it under wraps until it was officially released by RDML Salerno at the the World Maritime Day celebration last week. RDML Salerno participated in a round table discussion on the Seafarer's Access issue (which obviously benefited from the NMSAC's work).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Seafarer's Access to Shore Leave

One of the more sensative issues that NMSAC has been working on is the issue of allowing Seafarer's access to shore leave while in port. As a former Merchant Officer, I can tell you that getting off the boat for a few hours is a huge deal to most sailors. Even if it's to go to Wal Mart to get a new tooth brush, getting a change of scenery does much for crew morale.

The shore leave issue for foreign seafarers is extremely sensitive and has long been receiving attention from seafarer representative organizations, foreign flagged steamship companies and their industry representative organizations (BIMCO, for example). Some facility owners/operators have established security measures that essentially bar access to any persons not vetted by them, including seafarers seeking access to shore leave. Others have established a system of escort and transportation through the facility with the cost of this service being billed directly to the individual seafarer.

NMSAC was tasked to develop a working group to examine and quantify the extent to which the issue of seafarer’s access to shore leave is a problem and develop a set of reasonable solutions and recommendations that the Department can use in addressing the issue. At their September 18 meeting, the NMSAC reviewed and discussed the results of the Seafarer’s Access Working group:

Findings of the Working Group:

The Working Group identified two main elements of the issue:

  1. Physical access through facilities, and,
  2. Seafarers’ documentation.

Physical Access
Physical access issues arise through inconsistent interpretation of regulations and weak support from the Coast Guard for the intent of the human element provisions of the ISPS Code – specifically, paragraphs 10 and 11 of the Preamble and Part A, Section 16.3.15. The Working Group found that physical access issues must be resolved through the Coast Guard and terminal operators.

Seafarers’ Documentation
Seafarers’ documentation issues arise through the immigration policies of the federal government. For example, the arrivals and departures of air crews in the United States are governed by the same laws that apply to seafarers. However, air crew members may receive a waiver of the visa requirements for short stays. This is generally not done for seafarers.
Seafarers’ documentation issues must be resolved through action by Customs and Border Protection and the Department of State.

The Working Group made 10 specific recommendations, specifically geared to address 3 fundamental Goals:

  1. Clarify the relevant statutes and regulations to reemphasize the human element and the protection of seafarers’ rights as an important principle of port facility security. In addition, clarify which government agency has the authority to make policies and to enforce regulations that ensure seafarers access to shore leave and visitors.
  2. Resolve issues relating to seafarers’ physical access to shore leave and visitors.
  3. Resolve issues relating to seafarers’ documentation.

NMSAC Deliberations:
The Committee recognized that many of the recommendations, especially those addressing clarification of the relevant statutes/regulations and resolving the issues relating to seafarers’ documentation are not solely a Coast Guard issue to resolve. As such they recommended that these recommendations be forwarded to the CG/CBP Senior Guidance Team (SGT) for action.

In regards to the recommendations relating to seafarer’s physical access to shore leave visitors, the NMSAC agreed overall with the findings of the working group and officially made the recommendation to the Coast Guard that:

“NMSAC recommends the CG implement and enforce the obligation of port
facilities under the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, the
Maritime Transportation Security Act, and the relevant provision Title 33 Code
of Federal Regulations regarding seafarers' access to shore leave, visitors,
representatives of seafarers welfare and labor organizations.

NMSAC further recommends that the CG require each facility provide
unencumbered access for seafarers by requiring that every port facility security
plan facilitate shore leave, crew changes, and access for visitors. Any costs
for facilitating such access are a matter for the port facility.”

So, what's next? NMSAC staff will be working with the Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC) staff to coordinate a joint meeting with the USCG/CBP Senior Guidance Team to further explore the issue and consider the recommendations identified in the report including a look at legal authority to force facilities to provide access to shore leave.

Additionally, in support of the Subchapter H rewrite, NMSAC will be asked to assist in drafting standardized language for facility security plans to address the Seafarer’s access.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Future Maritime Security Issues

Back in December of ’07, the USCG tasked the NMSAC to identify the top issues that they see in the future for maritime security, specifically:

“The Coast Guard desires to be forward leaning and anticipatory of future trends/policy issues on maritime concerns that will confront the Department in the coming years and will require NMSAC’s attention. This committee’s subject matter knowledge affords the ability to identify those issues and recommend topics for consideration of future NMSAC meetings. The committee is requested to address the following:
  1. In the next 2 years, what will be the biggest concerns confronting industry on matters affecting national maritime security and the USCG.
  2. Of these concerns, please identify which topics NMSAC should take up for discussion and recommendation.”
You can read the entire task statement here.

In April, the Committee responded, identifying 8 key areas that are of particular interest to the Maritime Industry:
  1. Efficient and Effective Implementation of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program and the necessary card reading infrastructure.
  2. Incident response planning and communications
  3. Vessel Boarding Policies and Joint Command Centers with CBP.
  4. Five year review of the ISPS Code at the International Maritime Organization.
  5. Implementation of the Long Range Information and Tracking (LRIT).
  6. The Port Security Grant Program (PSGP).
  7. Subchapter H Regulations and Policy.
  8. Seafarer Rights and Fair Treatment

I’ll take the time in the following blog posts to update you on the status of each of these issues as they addressed by the USCG and NMSAC.

Monday, October 6, 2008

NMSAC Charter Renewed

NMSAC's Charter was renewed on September 30, allowing the committee to continue to operate until September 30, 2010. You can view it here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Social Media and FACA, the Art of the Possible

So, what are we talking about when we mentioned bringing FACA into the Social Media realm? Let me see if I can break it down for you:

The Problem:
The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) ensures public influence on policy decisions. Current regulations facilitate this by requiring all meetings be open to the public (accept when the meetings are deemed by the sponsoring Agency that they should be closed to the public), notification of the meeting be posted in the Federal Register at least 15 days prior, and reporting and record keeping requirements on those meetings (meeting minutes, etc…)

With the explosion of social networking, and the advent of the Web 2.0 paradigm of information collaboration, it's clear that the minimum FACA requirements have become outdated and overly bureaucratic to adequately facilitate public participation.

Web 2.0 is a term describing social software used to facilitate information sharing and collaboration. Basically, the term encapsulates the idea of the proliferation of interconnectivity and social interactions on the Web that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users. These concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and the like.

By leveraging Web 2.0 tools and processes, a broader net can conceivably be cast to incorporate a wider range of public engagement. This would result in the sponsoring agencies being more fully informed of issues and concerns during policy or regulatory development.

The Solution:
The concept of using the Web 2.0 paradigm to facilitate public participation in the spirit of FACA, involves exploiting the social software tools in an environment that fosters collaboration:

BLOG: A blog (a contraction of the term "Web log") is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.

For use with a FACA committee, a blog can be used to announce meetings, discuss future agenda items and task statements.

FORUM: An Internet forum is a web application for holding discussions and posting user-generated content. Internet forums are also commonly referred to as Web forums, newsgroups, message boards, discussion boards, or (electronic) discussion groups. Messages within these sub-forums are then displayed either in chronological order or as threaded discussions. The forum can be used to solicit comments/feedback on Blog entries, field questions, and facilitate dialogue about specific issues. As with the blog, the forum would be fully moderated by the NMSAC staff.

WIKI: A wiki is a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. The collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis. A wiki can be used to collaborate on task statements, policy directives, proposed rulemakings, etc...

SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES: A social network site focuses on building online communities of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Most social network services are web based and provide a variety of ways for users to interact, such as e-mail and instant messaging services.

Social networking has created powerful new ways to communicate and share information. Social networking websites are being used regularly by millions of people, and it now seems that social networking will be an enduring part of everyday life. The main types of social networking services are those which contain directories of some categories (such as former classmates), means to connect with friends (usually with self-description pages), and recommender systems linked to trust. Sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, and MySpace can be leveraged to provide further visibility of FACA developments and foster participation in the committee’s work.

WEBINARS: Also known as Web conferencing, webinars are used to conduct live meetings or presentations over the Internet. In a webinar, each participant sits at his or her own computer and is connected to other participants via the internet. This can be either a downloaded application on each of the attendee’s computers or a web-based application where the attendees will simply enter a URL (website address) to enter the conference. Webinars can be used to facilitate single issue FACA meetings, allowing for thorough discussion vs. all day (or even multiple day) agenda driven meetings. (incidentally, we've used this feature in our past 2 meetings with great success).

Current advisory committee collaboration would be greatly enhanced by using these tools. Rather than deliberation and discussion of issues within the fixed timeframe of a public meeting, Web 2.0 tools can be used to facilitate a discussion that takes place before during and after on official meeting. Extrapolation lends itself to eliminating a formal meeting all together, however this may be an extreme. In addition, Web 2.0 could allow for deliberations to be conducted with a minimum of logistics and costs.

So, as you see, we have big plans for this Committee and Social Media. And if you're one of the minority that think this kind of thing is a fad, I encourage you to check out ADM Allen's new blog , his first post pretty much sums up the Coast Guard's marching orders.


Welcome to the National Maritime Security Advisory Committee blog!

In an attempt to take advantage to the Social Networking and Web 2.0 initiatives being championed by Coast Guard Senior Leadership, we’ve decide to put our toes in the water, so to speak, and put together a blog.

To give you some background, The NMSAC was established under the authority of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-295). Congress also determined that NMSAC would operate under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

Composed of 21 maritime industry executives, The NMSAC will advises, consults with, and makes recommendations to the Secretary of Homeland Security, via the Commandant of the Coast Guard, on matters affecting national maritime security, including, but not limited to:

  • Developing a national strategy and policy to provide for efficient, coordinated and effective action to deter and minimize damage from maritime related transportation security incidents;
  • Recommending actions required to meet current and future security threats to ports, vessels, facilities, waterways and their associated inter-modal transportation connections and critical infrastructure;
  • Promoting international cooperation and multilateral solutions to maritime security issues;
  • Addressing security issues and concerns brought to the Committee by segments of the maritime transportation industry, or other port and waterway stakeholders; and,
  • Such other matters, related to those above, that the Secretary may charge the Committee with addressing.

Some of the Committee’s key activities include:

  • The Committee was active in the development of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The Committee formed a workgroup to address credentialing and provided input on specific questions posed by the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). In support of the second TWIC rulemaking, another workgroup was established to develop contactless card and reader specifications. This work resulted in a maritime operating requirements document, as well as technical card and reader specifications which meet maritime industry needs, both of which may be used during the TWIC pilot tests and subsequent implementation nationwide.
  • NMSAC assisted the Coast Guard and DHS by working with the Commercial Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) to identify members of the maritime sector who would be able to provide operational advice and consultation to the CG or DHS on national maritime security matters during transportation security incident response or recovery operations. This list subsequently facilitated the successful formation of the Maritime Sector Coordinating Council.
  • NMSAC assisted with review of the Maritime Modal Implementation Annex to the Transportation Sector Security Plan that is required under the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP).
  • Providing recommendations and comments to assist DHS with a review of the Strategy to Enhance the Security of the International Supply Chain (required by the Safe Port Act).
  • Providing recommendations and comments with the development of procedures and protocols for engaging the private sector on recovery issues following a national incident that significantly impacts the marine transportation system (MTS).
  • NMSAC is currently working on the following projects: (1) providing recommendations and comments to assist the Coast Guard on addressing foreign seafarer’s access to shore leave and (2) continuing involvement with the development and deployment of TWIC.

As you can see, the NMSAC is a key tool in the CG's attempt to secure the Maritime Transportation System. We look forward to exploring how NMSAC can leverage the Social Networking tools to further enhance the collaberative nature of the Committee with the maritime industry. Please feel free to provide comments/suggestions.