In the Senate Armed Services hearing on the Dubai ports deal today, Sen. Levin made the following statement about spending on port security:
At the same time, it has been a constant struggle to devote adequate funds to strengthen port security. According to the Wall Street Journal, while $18 billion has been spent on airport security since 9/11, the amount spent on port security has been only $630 million.
This quote is taken from a story in today’s (2/23) edition of the Wall Street Journal; the story itself provides no detail as to the source of this statistic.
This figure of $630 million seems incorrectly low to me. It’s very close to the total level of port security grants that have been allocated since 9/11 – the AAPA noted this total at $708m in a recent press statement.
But port security grants are NOT the totality of port security spending. The “ports, waterways, and coastal security” budget line item within the Coast Guard’s budget has totaled nearly $5 billion since FY 2003. ($1.25 billion in FY 2003, $1.26 billion in FY 2004, $1.21 billion in FY 2005 and $1.26 billion in FY 2006.) There is no similar estimate available for FY 2002, but it’s likely similar – I’ll estimate $1.1 billion. Not all of this is for port security per se, but a large share of it is – I’ll estimate 60%. Spending within Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on port security is harder to break down, but in FY 2006, the Container Security Initiative is funded at $139m, C-TPAT is at $54m, the National Targeting Center at $16m, Automated Targeting Systems at $28 million, and spending on radiation portal monitors at $125 million (some of which are for land borders). I’d imagine that there’s at least another $200-$300m within the entire $1.27 billion in CBP’s budget for border inspections for FTE’s at seaports (with the balance at land border checkpoints and international airports). That add ups to around $600m/year within CBP’s budget for port security, although prior years are significantly lower since many of these line items have only been introduced in the last 1-3 years. Finally, I’d add the Department of Energy’s Megaports initiative, funded at $74m this year and $28m in FY 2005.
All told, I’d have to estimate cumulative port security spending at $6.13 billion during the 4.5 years between the start of FY 2002 (Oct. 1, 2002) and the midpoint of FY 2006 (March 31, 2006).
Are we spending enough, however? As I’ve said in recent days, I don’t believe so. MTSA implementation has been underfunded, and there has never really been a “system-wide commitment” to the challenges of port security in the same way that the federal government has addressed the vulnerabilities of the commercial aviation system. But I think it’s important to provide fair spending estimates when engaging in this important debate.