TSA preps $148 million more in grants

Port Security Grants

The Transportation Security Administration will dole out $148 million in new grants for port and bus security, Transportation Department Secretary Norman Mineta announced Jan 14.

The money will include $28 million for Operation Safe Commerce, a pilot program focused on protecting ports in Los Angeles; Long Beach, Calif.; New York; New Jersey; Seattle; and Tacoma, Wash.

"These grant programs will help [TSA] identify critical infrastructure, provide transit personnel security training, harden our seaports, enhance vehicle tracking and driver protections and increase security throughout the supply chain," Mineta said in a news release.

President Bush established TSA in November 2001 when he signed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, which mandated improvements in securing the nation's transportation systems. Congress provided the agency with funding for the grants programs in the fiscal 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act.

The first round of grants was awarded in June 2002, with $92.3 million going to 51 ports nationwide. Of that money, $9.3 million paid for "proof of concept projects" to explore the use of new technologies, including vessel tracking and electronic notification of arrivals.

About the same time, the department completed a test of e-seals — radio frequency devices that enable agencies to determine if a container has been tampered with — and began work on a transportation worker identification system that includes smart cards.

A board, with representatives from TSA, the Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration, will judge the latest grant applications.

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