US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) chairman Daniel Maffei presented this week a request for extra funding for fiscal year 2022 to the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. The FMC is seeking an additional $800,000 to support its operations.
Maffei noted that the FMC has been conducting an investigation since late last year of detention and demurrage, container return and export carriage policies at America’s two largest port complexes, one result of which is a recommendation for the agency to undertake audits of the major carriers. In fact, the FMC launched its Vessel-Operating Common Carrier Audit Program earlier this week, with a team dedicated to the project.
The audits will “determine exactly what [the carriers] are doing to comply with the detention and demurrage rule,” said Maffei. “Such an audit could inform additional rulemaking or enforcement.”
The commission chairman also discussed two other areas in “urgent need of shoring up given the current situation”: FMC’s Bureau of Enforcement (BoE) and Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services (CADRS). Maffei has “authorized additional hiring for these offices, which is in progress, including a specific advocate for exports.”
The FMC operates with a current workforce of 128 employees, “many of whom must have advanced degrees and/or specialized expertise to facilitate implementation of all the provisions of the Shipping Act,” said Maffei. The bulk of its budget is used for salaries and benefits. The required hires for new initiatives will add to these costs.