The Port Performance Freight Statistics Working Group met on July 15 in Washington, DC.
The Working Group was created in accordance with the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, and consists of members from the public and private sector.
The Working Group is established in the FAST Act to provide recommendations to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) Director on matters related to port performance measures; to identify a standard for port data; to specify standards for consistent port performance measures; to recommend statistics for measuring port capacity and throughput; and to develop a process to collect timely and consistent data. Recommendations from the Working Group are due to the BTS Director on December 4, 2016.
As reported in the Journal of Commerce, the first meeting for the Working Group highlighted the deep divisions among the members and roadblocks that they need to overcome to meet the December 4th due date.
Per Jon Gold, Vice President of Supply Chain at the National Retail Federation, “I think we all recognized going in this was not going to be an easy process. This is something new that hasn’t been done before”.
Some members, including members from the AFL–CIO and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, believe that the national database of port productivity statistics would be used against them, and are cumbersome.
Per Jeffrey Pavlak, a representative with the AFL-CIO’S Transportation Trade Department, “Despite claims by corporate shippers, the port metrics they are pursuing are not harmless statistical tools, we know this because the productivity metrics that shippers want collected are the same type of data they have tried to use against workers in past disputes”.
Unions, ports and railroads are of the position that time and money are better spent on infrastructure where the need is evident, and that a national database of port productivity only stands to hurt all parties involved.
The contingent representing shippers’ interests are outnumbered in the Working Group, Jon Gold lamented this fact, saying, “It’s unfortunate that BTS can’t bring in additional shippers, importers, exporters, manufactures agricultural interests”.