On Wednesday August 3 2011, my good friend Patrick Coyle published an extremely helpful piece of information in his blog Chemical Facility Security News (http://chemical-facility-security-news.blogspot.com/). At “ANSP at CFATS Knowledge Center” he alerted us to a new function in the Federal Register. In my barely-computer-literate-layperson’s terms, this is a searchable page in which the FR notices are listed as articles. For anyone who has ever done a search for a term such as TWIC in the FR, you know this can be a really frustrating experience. This new page allows a much better “tailoring” of the search. I tried a search for the very broad term “maritime security” and was pleased with how I could tinker to refine the results. You can get there at http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/
Below is an explanation from the Federal Register blog, which may make more sense to techno-savvy folks than my explanation:
“Building on the groundbreaking efforts of GPO’s bulk XML data feed, we’ve released an Application Programming Interface (API) for FederalRegister.gov, making it even easier for developers to build new ways of interacting with Federal Register data. You can easily fetch information about agencies, particular articles, or use any of our advanced search functionality to programmatically find the articles your users are interested in. More details can be found on the developers page.
The API is still a work in progress; we welcome your feedback about how we can make this tool more useful.”
What does this mean to the MTSA community?
1. The FR is the daily journal of the federal government. Most regulatory notices that will concern us are posted here. You don’t have to wait for the information to filter down from your owner/operator or your local Coast Guard; you can read it here first. Any improvements to the FR are good for the MTSA community.
2. We still need to check Homeport every day without fail. Some notices of great import to us are posted on Homeport and nowhere else! Log in, check the TWIC page, check the MTSA page, check your Sector page from Port Directory. When PAC 02-11 was posted, Coast Guard HQ really was not required to give anybody any notice other than posting the PAC on Homeport because we are all supposed to be checking this site frequently anyway! It only takes a minute or two, and new items are designated in red. If you have problems with Homeport access, take it to your Coast Guard rep. If you are having problems with the site in general, try accessing through Internet Explorer, which is the platform it was designed for. Don’t let your password lapse, and then have a situation in which an incident occurs, Homeport needs to be accessed and you can’t.