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Feb.8, 2016

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GOVERNMENT WATCH INTERNATIONAL | WASHINGTON | CUSTOMS | SECURITY | REGULATION THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE 49 A COALITION OF some of the United States' largest shipper organizations is pressing the U.S. Department of Transportation to drill down on port productivity metrics via a new initiative that aims to improve monitoring of marine terminal congestion. Led by the National Retail Federa- tion, the coalition in a January letter asked Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to track port productivity by creating key performance indicators for activit y at berths, in marine terminal yards, at truck gates and on-dock rails. Signed into law in December, the multiyear highway bill known as FAST, or the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, empowers the the DOT to determine how to monitor port productivity. "Our interest in performance measures is long-standing, but has been recently spurred by signifi cant congestion and cargo delivery delays at the nation's largest con- tainer ports," the coalition wrote. "These delays have a ripple effect throughout the supply chain, impacting all of our collec- tive members, as well as the overall U.S. economy." The introduction of massive container ships, the formation of alliances among the world's largest ocean carriers and disruptive factors such as chassis dislocation and the insuffi cient port infrastructure investment have created bottlenecks at ports, rais- ing costs for exporters and importers, and reducing U.S. competitiveness, the coali- tion said. Congestion related to a contract show- down between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and waterfront employers was so bad at West Coast ports in late 2014 and early 2015 that it helped to shave off 0.2 percent from fi rst-quarter 2015 GDP. The coalition recommends that the DOT at least track the monthly average lifts per hour by vessel and size and berth size, and the monthly average vessel turnaround time by vessel size and berth size. To moni- tor operations within the terminal yard, the coalition wants the DOT to collect metrics on average monthly container dwell time for imports and exports, and average monthly port capacity. Collecting metrics on average truck turn time, chassis availability and dray- age drivers' trouble tickets would shed light on the state of truck gate operations at each port, said the coalition, which includes the National Association of Manufactur- ers and the Agriculture Transportation Coalition. It also recommended that the DOT track on-dock intermodal performance at ports with the capability to load and unload containers directly onto trains. In a nod to the American Association of Port Authorities' opposition to tracking port productivity metrics, the coalition noted many port authorities already have access to such metrics. The AAPA, the largest U.S. port lobby, argues that its members use dif- ferent measures and methods to calculate port productivity, making the national data- base approach fl awed. "To ensure data is comparable across ports, (the DOT) should develop a standard methodology for collecting these statis- tics with due recognition of the expected variations for ships and berths of different capacities," the coalition said. Although FAST includes a port perfor- mance provision with specifi c benchmarks and timelines, it's ambiguous about how the data-collecting initiative will be carried out and what will be measured. The act requires the director of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics to submit by Jan. 15 of each year an annual report to Congress that includes fi gures on capacity and throughput at the nation's top ports, including the top 25 U.S. ports by total tonnage, by containerized volume measured in industry-standard 20-foot-equivalent units and by dry bulk tonnage. The FAST provision doesn't outline how frequently the data will be collected before each annual report. A working group, including members from the Federal Maritime Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard and longshore labor unions, will help the DOT create the metrics. An earlier draft of the provision would have tracked port productivity before, during and after port labor negotiations, helping Congress to get a handle on how slowdowns and other tactics hurt productivity. Longshore labor opposi- tion, however, caused that provision to be stripped out. JOC Contact Mark Szakonyi at and follow him on Twitter: @szakonyi_joc. By Mark Szakonyi SHIPPERS PRESS DOT ON PORT EFFICIENCY With a new law on its side, the nation's largest shipper groups propose new metrics to measure productivity GOVERNMENT WATCH INTERNATIONAL | WASHINGTON | CUSTOMS | SECURITY | REGULATION

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