On Friday March 13, DHS released a public abstract of the Small Vessel Security Implementation Plan, at http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/gc_1199394950818.shtm. The Plan itself is sensitive security information and will be distributed only to pre-cleared stakeholders, such as AMSC members.
The Introduction to this document describes the role of the Plan, describing it as “the product of a multi-year process that involved public and private stakeholders, DHS, and other federal, state, local, and tribal authorities. “ It is further described as ” a roadmap for realizing the goals and objectives of the DHS National Small Vessel Security Strategy (Strategy)” that “ identifies possible and proven means of managing and controlling risks posed by the potential threat and possibly dire consequences of small vessel exploitation by terrorists.” The Plan will “improve existing operations and systems by leveraging the actions and resources of stakeholder groups in the commercial private sector and the recreational boating community. “ Discussing how the goals of the SVS Strategy are to be put into practice, DHS states, “Many programs included in the Plan are not new or uniquely dedicated to terrorist threats or small vessels. They are ongoing in the agencies that facilitate maritime safety, security, recreation, and commerce. The Plan outlines improvements to this very substantial base of existing programs to achieve higher levels of operational capability and awareness. By design, it will be continuously revised to accommodate new information about threats, technologies, requirements, and lessons learned as programs are implemented. “
The document then addresses steps forward within the framework of the four goals of the Strategy. Each goal is broken into objectives, and those objectives are put into practice by means of a list of “example activities.” These example activities are excellent initiatives that will certainly strengthen the program and mitigate the threat. Some are just good common sense, such as “Standardize warning signage for limited-access areas, such as Defense Department bases, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers restricted areas, or USCG security zones and for special events and high-threat situations to demarcate security zones and safety zones.” Who will be responsible for what, or how these activities will be funded in these times of cutbacks, is not addressed in this abstract. Despite the claim that these activities are already ongoing within federal agencies, if they are not uniquely dedicated to small vessel security or if small vessel security activity is not separately tracked – requiring expenditure for the tracking – there may be a problem with alignment with federal program management standard practices. Hopefully, there will be details in the SSI version that address these concerns, including checklists and detailed timelines and a solid feedback loop for the port security stakeholder community to contribute their input.
The input of the stakeholder community in this process largely ceased after the Summits, and that wasn’t either the choice or the wish of that community.