This plan will enable the FMC to oversee U.S. oceanborne commerce effectively, while being responsive to the legitimate needs of its stakeholders in all segments of the ocean shipping industry and the interested public. The plan recognizes the importance of all FMC employees participating in its implementation in order to improve operational efficiency, and to ensure the agency’s positive impact on international trade. Given the dynamic nature of the maritime industry, and the Administration and Congressional emphasis on continuously enhancing management effectiveness and information technology, this plan will be reassessed periodically and modified as appropriate.
Advance the Nation’s interests by fostering an efficient, competitive, secure, market-driven, and nondiscriminatory ocean transportation system that is free of unfair foreign maritime trade practices and market-distorting activities.
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998 (“OSRA”) and the events of September 11, 2001, have significantly changed the manner in which the business of ocean shipping is being conducted. The industry continues to restructure its operations to adapt to dynamic economic conditions, emerging trends, and maritime security efforts. International trade remains dependent upon an efficient ocean transportation system. Therefore, it is imperative for the FMC to ensure that its oversight activities produce a competitive trading environment in U.S. ocean commerce that is in harmony with and responsive to international shipping practices, and permits fair and open commerce. We must focus our energies and efforts on this mission, and assure that the agency is organized and managed in a manner best suited to accomplish it with a minimum of government intervention and regulatory cost. Effective use of emerging information technologies will facilitate our efforts. Our actions also must encourage the development of a sound U.S.-flag liner fleet. Accordingly, the FMC has established the following five strategic goals to carry out its statutory mandates.
2. Compliance: Promote efficiency and fairness in U.S. foreign waterborne commerce through various means, including outreach and monitoring, to protect the public and assist stakeholders in achieving compliance with ocean transportation statutes administered by the FMC.
3. Balanced Enforcement: Foster economic efficiencies, reliance on marketplace factors and maritime security by administering U.S. shipping statutes in a balanced and equitable manner to redress excessive anticompetitive actions and other unlawful activities.
4. Technological Efficiencies: Employ technological enhancements to improve efficiency and to facilitate the exchange of information.
5. Management Capabilities: Ensure the FMC has the appropriate organizational framework and management systems to carry out its statutory mandates.
The primary intention of Strategic Goal 1 is to minimize regulatory costs by maintaining timely and decisive regulatory processes, and providing various dispute resolution services. This will render the FMC more effective in addressing matters that perpetuate discrimination or preclude industry efficiency, while reducing the costs of pursuing matters before the Commission. Decisive action and effective assistance in resolving informal complaints or disputes will help to remove uncertainties as to statutory interpretations or the application of FMC rules. Such uncertainties may impede operational efficiencies or technological changes, each of which can foster a more economical ocean shipping system.
Our second strategic goal centers on achieving compliance with the substantive provisions of the shipping statutes the FMC administers, and protecting those involved in U.S. ocean commerce from unfair practices. We will address this goal particularly by interacting with all sectors of the industry, and by vigilant monitoring of ongoing commercial activities. Accomplishing this goal should minimize the unjust discrimination and undue preference or prejudice that precludes certain shipping interests from obtaining rates or service levels that can render their businesses more economic and efficient. Increasing industry compliance should enable stakeholders to concentrate on fair and legal means of enhancing operational efficiency, secure in the knowledge that competitors are not engaging in widespread illegal actions aimed at improving short-term profits. The agency’s focus on the qualifications of intermediaries operating in the U.S. trades will afford greater protection to our stakeholders and contribute to national maritime security. And cruise passengers also will be protected through the demonstration of financial responsibility by passenger vessel operators.
Strategic Goal 3 is designed to foster economic efficiencies, assist maritime security initiatives, promote reliance on marketplace factors, and redress excessive anticompetitive practices harmful to international commerce. This is a direct link to our mission statement’s call for an efficient, secure, competitive, market-driven ocean transportation system. Our continuing efforts to address the actions of foreign governments that adversely affect U.S. interests and our foreign trade comport with that aspect of our mission aimed at creating an environment “free of unfair foreign maritime trade practices.” Our focus on commercial malpractices enhances our objective of limiting unlawful activities.
We also have a specific strategic goal that focuses on making effective use of advancements in information technology to improve the efficiency of our operations and enhance our exchange of information with external parties. Carrying out the agency’s mission in times of budgetary limitations dictates that we appropriately utilize all available resources. Dynamic changes continue to be made in this area, and the Commission intends to take advantage of any improvement that can enable it to perform its functions more effectively. We hope to improve our business operations so as to add efficiency to the Commission’s dissemination and receipt of information. We intend to perform the research and analysis necessary to identify the best options for implementing technical enhancements to facilitate our efforts to achieve our mission.
Finally, our fifth strategic goal addresses Commission management and operations. In order to achieve the objectives of our mission, we must maintain effective processes that enhance efficiency, without serving as ends in themselves. It is essential that we manage for results, and that we effectively tie our budget needs to our performance. This strategic goal serves as the internal underpinning that enables us to accomplish the policy objectives set forth in our mission statement. This goal also ensures continuation of a comprehensive approach to the strategic management of our human capital.
Achieving these mission-driven goals will enable us to address the external factors we face, while assuring an equitable and efficient administration of the shipping statutes under our jurisdiction. Our processes and procedures will be refined or updated as necessary. We are committed to accomplishing our strategic goals and the outcome goals related to them. Therefore, specific means have been identified to enable the FMC to achieve these goals in the most cost-efficient and least disruptive manner possible.
Provide a timely, efficient and decisive regulatory process,
including alternative dispute resolution,
to enable all segments of the industry to operate more effectively,
with a minimum of regulatory costs.
2. Conduct hearings in an expeditious and equitable manner, so that litigants and the industry can adjust their behavior accordingly.
3. Permit and encourage the use of electronic filings and other processes that result in less expense and timely resolution of disputes.
4. Update Commission rules as appropriate to adjust to changes in the regulatory and commercial environment.
1. Continue to refine the Commission’s ADR process based on the Commission’s experiences. Publicize the successful use of ADR on the Commission’s homepage and elsewhere as appropriate. Encourage ALJs to support the use of ADR or other settlement processes when appropriate in proceedings before them.
2. Review all procedural rules on a regular basis and update them to improve the efficiency of Commission proceedings.
3. Encourage the use of electronic filings and service in all Commission proceedings. For rulemaking proceedings, effectively utilize the rulemaking portal process.
4. Appropriately update and/or refine the Commission’s rules relating to the content of filed agreements, the filing of agreement minutes, the information form and monitoring reports, and financial responsibility for passenger vessel operators.
Promote efficiency and fairness in U.S. foreign waterborne commerce
through various means, including outreach and monitoring,
to protect the public and assist stakeholders in achieving compliance
with ocean transportation statutes administered by the FMC.
3. Maintain fair competition in U.S. ocean commerce.
4. Protect the public and users of ocean transportation services from activities that violate the shipping statutes.
The purpose of the 1984 Act, as amended by OSRA, and other U.S. laws and regulations governing international ocean transportation is to establish and maintain a competitive, nondiscriminatory regulatory process that ensures an efficient, market-driven transportation system in the ocean commerce of the U.S. and encourages an economically sound environment for the U.S. shipping industry and public. These laws and regulations cannot accomplish their purposes unless there is compliance with their provisions. The first outcome goal, increase the rate of compliance, is thus related directly to the purpose of ensuring an efficient and economic ocean transportation system. It is important that the Commission not permit certain entities to ignore shipping statutes and regulations to the detriment of compliant providers and users of transportation. To effect voluntary compliance, all segments of the industry must be aware of the regulatory environment in which it operates, since awareness must precede voluntary compliance. The second outcome goal, additional education and opportunity for dialogue, is directly related to, and a rational extension of, the stated goals of promoting efficiency and fairness in our trades. With a better understanding of the international ocean transportation environment, from both regulatory and business perspectives, we can foster greater compliance and maintain a competitive, nondiscriminatory regulatory process. The third goal of maintaining fair competition for U.S. ocean commerce will naturally occur since a “level playing field” has been and will be in the industry’s best interest. Protecting the public from unacceptable operators promotes both efficiency and fairness, while benefitting U.S. international trade overall.
In order to achieve the objectives of this strategic goal and its related outcome goals, the Commission will:
1. Enhance various monitoring programs to improve industry compliance with statutory requirements and regulations, as well as to identify and address unacceptable operations.2. Improve our understanding of stakeholder perspectives and concerns, by fostering dialogue between the agency and the users and providers of ocean transportation.
3. Increase outreach to all segments of the industry on FMC laws, regulations and services provided such as dispute resolution, to include educational programs, participation in panel discussions and informal sessions, public speeches, the FMC’s homepage, media outreach, access to timely information in various formats such as notices and lists, and publications such as brochures, studies, and reports.
4. Provide technical assistance to other government agencies to help maintain conditions favorable for U.S. foreign commerce.
Foster economic efficiencies, reliance on marketplace factors and
maritime security by administering U.S. shipping statutes
in a balanced and equitable manner to redress excessive anticompetitive actions
and other unlawful activities.
2. Ensure that Commission actions are taken with appropriate consideration of their impact on the industry and users of transportation services, including small business considerations, and are directed at market-distorting activities.
3. Provide regulatory assistance and encourage voluntary compliance with shipping statutes and regulations through consistent industry outreach and education efforts.
4. Neutralize, or affirmatively address, restrictive trade practices of foreign governments.
5. Improve maritime security by curtailing unlawful participation in the U.S. ocean transportation system.
One of the stated purposes of the 1984 Act is to provide that there be a minimum of government intervention and regulatory cost. OSRA expanded on this by emphasizing the need for the marketplace to be the main determinant of industry operations. These objectives underlie Strategic Goal 3 and are achieved best through balanced enforcement. The first outcome goal recognizes that the economic efficiencies and benefits of limited antitrust immunity can be lost if this grant is abused through excessive reductions in competition. The second outcome goal states that balanced enforcement must include consideration of the impact on the industry and users of transportation services to be truly effective, and is to be focused on practices that distort market operations. The third outcome goal emphasizes the Commission’s commitment to promote voluntary compliance by industry outreach and education efforts as well as to achieve compliance with applicable shipping statutes via informal, fair and pragmatic approaches to its compliance and enforcement responsibilities. The fourth outcome goal acknowledges that any benefits and efficiencies achieved through effective oversight of antitrust immunity can be undermined by unfair, restrictive trade practices on the part of foreign governments. The final outcome goal serves to implement the Commission’s intent to promote and participate in the nation’s efforts to secure its borders and transportation systems made necessary by the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and present world conditions.
1. Increase ongoing dialogue with consumer, industry and government entities to educate, receive feedback and encourage voluntary compliance with the Commission’s statutory responsibilities and applicable regulatory requirements.2. Utilize ADR techniques and resources for resolution of disputes and to achieve compliance with statutory requirements.
3. Monitor competitive trade conditions through review of carrier agreement activity, and assess carrier competitive environment through analysis of adherence by individual carriers to agreement voluntary service contract guidelines.
4. Utilize Commission databases of regulated entities and carrier agreements, the license application and agreement filing processes and investigatory resources to ensure that entities participating in the U.S. foreign maritime transportation system are lawful participants under the shipping statutes.
5. Cooperate and coordinate with other government agencies and entities for the exchange of information and resources in all efforts and actions to improve maritime security.
Employ technological enhancements to improve efficiency and to facilitate
the exchange of information.
2. Use electronic technology for the receipt of documents filed with the Commission as envisioned by the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (“GPEA”).
3. Safeguard programs and systems as required by the Government Information Security Reform Act (“GISRA”).
4. Disseminate Commission and staff issuances through the use of electronic technology.
Relationship between Strategic Goal and Outcome Goals
During this period of increased responsibility and limited budgets, the Commission must identify available resources that can improve its internal processes and the mechanisms for interacting with stakeholders, and safeguard programs and systems. These objectives provide the underpinning for Strategic Goal 4. To achieve these goals the Commission must increase its use of modern technologies and systems. The accomplishment of Strategic Goal 4 and its related outcome goals will also help the Commission accomplish the other strategic goals in this plan. This is evidenced in the first outcome goal through the involvement of all of the agency’s components in developing approaches that can be used to increase the use of technology for streamlining the Commission’s work processes. The remaining outcome goals recognize the importance of employing technology to reduce costs, facilitate the receipt and distribution of information, and appropriately safeguard all programs and systems. In sum, this strategic goal recognizes the relationship between technology and the fulfillment of the Commission’s mission and statutory responsibilities.
1. Engage in dialogue with other agencies and organizations to assess how they utilize today’s technologies to implement GPEA and GISRA.
2. Utilize intra-agency user groups and the Chief Information Officer to evaluate approaches for increasing the use of modern technologies to improve results by enhancing the Commission’s work processes.
3. Employ the procedures set forth in OMB’s implementing regulations for meeting the Congressional mandates contained in GPEA and GISRA.
4. Automate, and where appropriate provide public access to, agency systems such as the Agreements Library, Regulated Persons Index, selected docket filings and other appropriate databases.
Ensure the FMC has the appropriate organizational framework
and management systems to carry out its statutory mandates.
2. Clearly and accurately communicate the Commission’s program requirements, activities and decisions in a manner consistent with the Information Quality Guidelines for Federal Agencies.
3. Respond to changing industry conditions and business environment through use of state-of-the-art automated systems for internal and external processes and a flexible and well-trained workforce.
4. Enhance performance and accountability through linking planning, financial management and performance.
Relationship between Strategic Goal and Outcome Goals
The Commission must have an effective, productive and organized workforce to fulfill its regulatory and administrative responsibilities as outlined in its strategic and performance plans. By ensuring that emphasis is placed on organizational framework, management leadership, and effective communication, the first outcome goal, organize and manage the agency’s staff, is specifically designed to accomplish this end by focusing directly on the issue. Moreover, it emphasizes workforce planning issues such as recruitment, retention, and diversity. The second outcome goal is to improve the communication of the Commission’s program requirements, activities and decisions in a manner that is consistent with the Information Quality Guidelines for Federal Agencies. This goal will enable management to meet the enforcement and educational responsibilities as stated in the strategic goal, utilizing state-of-the-art, economic and efficient technologies. The third outcome goal, respond to changing industry conditions and business environment, is dependent on the achievement of the first two outcome goals. This outcome goal provides the ability to ensure that the FMC is meeting its regulatory and management responsibilities. The fourth outcome goal to enhance performance and accountability will enable the FMC to maximize performance and measure performance results through the use of appropriately integrated management systems as stated in the strategic goal.
Means to Achieve the Strategic Goal
The FMC will establish activities to enhance its organizational abilities and managerial systems. These activities will:
1. Continue to develop and monitor performance plans based upon the FMC’s Strategic Plan, as a means of managing human capital.
2. Promote a diverse workforce and encourage policies and activities that help employees demonstrate their abilities and achieve the full extent of their potential, and foster open communication between employees and management.
3. Identify program/skill areas which currently or in the foreseeable future will be compromised by staff attrition, and recruit and hire qualified personnel. As an example, provide the necessary training and developmental assignments to ensure successful completion of the SES Candidate Development Program to provide the Commission with a group of well-qualified individuals to fill future leadership roles.
4. Identify and provide necessary training and information technology to improve workforce productivity.
5. Generate and internally disseminate accurate and timely financial information to support operating and policy decisions.
6. Integrate performance review with budget decisions so as to ensure that budget projections are tied to performance results, and performance is more readily measurable.
2. The review of shipping antitrust laws and regulations by national governments, the European Union, and various international organizations, such as the OECD and WTO, continues to be an important external factor affecting the Commission. The agency’s awareness of these developing regulatory systems and whether these systems are similar to, complementary with, or dissimilar to U.S. shipping antitrust and competition policies affects our assessment of the international regulatory environment and our role and behavior in that environment.
3. The perceptible growth in supply side arrangements among ocean carriers can have a significant commercial and regulatory impact on the ocean transportation environment. While strong operational agreements and partnering on vessel capacity can create definite efficiencies, excessive supply side contractions can be extremely disruptive to the market and upset the carrier/shipper balance. It is especially important for the agency to monitor, discern and react to supply imbalances. At the same time, the agency’s regulatory process and its utilization of internal capabilities must be organized in a manner capable of adjusting its compliance and balanced enforcement objectives to meet industry demands and innovations.
4. The growing reliance on the Internet is rapidly changing the speed, form and manner of governmental and business transactions and demanding that the agency be proficient in using this vehicle for efficiently carrying out its mission. The myriad of regulatory, security, management and resource issues arising from the advent of the Internet are affecting the internal focus and culture of the agency. The e-government initiative is emerging, and it is important that the agency keep in step with the efficiencies it affords for our stakeholders and ourselves.
GOALS/OBJECTIVES AND ANNUAL PERFORMANCE PLAN
The Commission’s annual performance goals all are tied directly to our strategic goals. In essence, our annual performance goals are the means by which we specifically will accomplish the objectives of our strategic goals in a given fiscal year.
In preparing our annual performance plans, we use our strategic plan as the basic blueprint. All performance goals reflect the specific projects or activities we have identified as necessary to accomplish our strategic goals. Inasmuch as the majority of our responsibilities are dictated by statutorily-imposed goals, our ongoing activities remain somewhat constant. This facilitates identification and accomplishment of positive outcomes. It also enables us to focus on measurable, quantifiable goals that are in line with our stated mission and established goals. Our FY 2004 annual performance plan demonstrates how we incorporate the principle components of our strategic plan. This plan pinpoints activities and outcomes in support of our general goals and objectives. This linkage permits agency management to direct and guide staff towards actions that fulfill our primary policy goals and statutory responsibilities. Our future performance plans will employ this same methodology.
Set forth below are illustrative examples of performance goals from our FY 2004 annual performance plan that support each of our strategic goals.
1. Efficient Regulatory Process.
- Ensure that information disseminated to the public complies with all requirements of section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001, in accordance with the procedures and standards set forth in the Commission’s published Information Quality Guidelines.
- Utilize ADR, including exploring the use of arbitration, to resolve passenger claims in the PVO program.
- Refine and update methodology to develop freight rate indices for major U.S. trade lanes.
- Complete a rulemaking by 9/30/04 that makes the changes necessary to ensure that PVO financial responsibility requirements for nonperformance are providing appropriate protection for the public.
- Coordinate databases with agencies or government groups involved in homeland security to improve identification of entities providing and utilizing maritime transportation services. Formalize coordination through memoranda of understanding where possible.
- Utilize public outreach program to educate maritime transportation users and providers with regard to FMC statutes and regulations, and to encourage voluntary compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
3. Balanced Enforcement.
- Review Commission rules and evaluate for consistency with port and maritime security initiatives undertaken by Congress and other Federal agencies. Amend rules as necessary.
- Permanent Task Force on International Affairs monitors foreign laws and practices to determine whether there is any disadvantage to U.S. interests or any unjust non-market barriers to fair trade.
- Utilize existing databases (i.e., Customs, ACS, PIERS, SERVCON) to identify unlicensed and non-compliant OTIs participating in transportation subject to FMC jurisdiction and VOCCs which provide transportation services to these entities.
4. Technological Efficiencies.
- Compile and convert to electronic form Administration Law Judge Initial Decisions and Commission Reports and Orders issued for the first year and subsequent to the period covered by Volume 28 of Federal Maritime Commission Reports.
- By 9/30/04, modernize the FMC’s Regulated Persons Index database.
- By 1/1/04, develop and implement an automated agreement library that will be accessible online through the agency’s website, and use the agency’s website to announce agreement filings.
5. Management Capabilities.
- Assess all forms, processes, and systems changed to comport with the Government Paperwork Elimination Act, and develop/implement a plan for the organized and effective use of the involved information/data.
- Assess the agency’s performance appraisal process to ensure that employee performance elements directly support accomplishment of the agency mission, and employee appraisals accurately reflect the level of achievement.
- By 9/30/04 develop prototype for confidential, semiannual Commission trade profile on economic and liner trade conditions in major U.S. trade lanes.
Funding and FTE levels do remain a concern. The Commission retains an adequate personnel mix, including attorneys, economists, transportation specialists, investigative personnel, and a range of support and administrative staff. Our hiring initiative pursuant to a specific performance goal in Fiscal Year 2002 was a positive step in this regard. However, the Commission has faced limited appropriation levels for several years. The resulting budgetary constraints have precluded us from reaching optimal FTE levels, and from initiating certain actions to enhance the efficiency of our operations. This has forced us to reduce our emphasis in certain areas, as well as alter our approaches to accomplishing various program responsibilities.
While the foregoing has not precluded us from performing our primary statutory responsibilities, we have been unable to devote the necessary resources and attention to several projects and functions. Additionally, some drop-offs in efficiency and effectiveness have occurred. To address this situation in the future, we have placed a higher degree of importance on our internal capabilities. We have established strategic goals specifically intended to enhance our use of technological developments, and to improve our management capabilities. It is our hope that this strategic emphasis will facilitate our efforts to accomplish our statutory mandates with the resources available to us. We recognize that agencies government-wide will continue to face limited appropriations given the Nation’s need to address the security threats it faces. Therefore, we will focus on doing more with less as we strive to accomplish our statutory responsibilities. We hope to make better use of emerging technologies to improve service, response times, etc. But to the extent the Commission continues to experience limited funding, it may be necessary to reassess our goals and objectives and determine whether additional changes in operating structure or resource allocation should be implemented.
The Commission will review various program activities throughout the year. This will be accomplished via:
- Monthly status reviews of all adjudicatory proceedings, with an annual evaluation.
- Periodic reviews to assess the impact of any legislative changes effectuated.
- Periodic statistical reports by program area (e.g., pertinent statistics on various enforcement/compliance and/or monitoring initiatives).
- Ongoing assessment at various milestones of specific projects.
- Annual review of complaints and inquiries.
- The Chairman’s regular policy meetings with senior agency staff.
- The Executive Director’s regular meetings with Bureau Directors.
- The performance appraisal process, which includes 6-month progress reviews, annual performance appraisals, and ad hoc meetings as appropriate.
Additionally, the Commission will continue to assess the best ways to obtain and use feedback from affected parties, the Administration, the Congress, and other government agencies to assist it in implementing its mission and directing its resources.