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Mar 1 -- The Maritime Administration (MARAD), Department of Transportation (DOT) requests information from the public to assist MARAD in assessing the processes used to implement the Cargo Preference Act of 1954, which directs the use of U.S.-flag vessels to transport certain amounts of civilian federal government agencies' cargo. Comments must be received on or before May 1, 2023.

The Cargo Preference Act of 1954 (CPA), codified at 46 U.S.C. 55305, and promulgated by regulation under 46 CFR parts 381 and 382, requires that at least 50% of cargoes procured, furnished, or financed by the U.S. Government, which may be transported on ocean vessels, are transported on privately-owned U.S. commercial vessels, to the extent those vessels are available at fair and reasonable rates. Currently, the 50% compliance minimum is calculated by type of vessel (dry bulk carriers, dry cargo liners, and tankers), as well as by geographic area. These requirements are applied to cargoes resulting from civilian federal agency activities, such as, but not limited to, the movement of humanitarian assistance and the household goods of travelling diplomats. Department of Defense cargoes, such as military equipment and fuel, are subject to separate statutory and regulatory requirements and are not the subject of this request for information (RFI). MARAD is required under 46 U.S.C. 55305(d)(2)(A) to conduct an annual review of the administration of cargo preference programs by civilian federal agencies. MARAD may also direct civilian federal agencies, pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 55305(d)(2)(B), to require transport cargo shipments aboard U.S. vessels in equivalent amounts to cargo that were shipped onboard foreign vessels in violation of section 55305 (remediation efforts known as “make up” cargo shipments). MARAD may also impose civil penalties on any person who willfully and knowingly violates the cargo preference requirements in 46 U.S.C. 55305, pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 55305(d)(2)(C).

MARAD will continue to support, review, and promote compliance with the CPA by civilian federal agencies and their contractors through collaboration and education. Identifying cargoes resulting from civilian federal agency activities that are subject to cargo preference requirements has proven challenging for MARAD as it includes those derived from within layers of subcontracts, contracts, and grants, as well as any consequential transportation stemming from federal financing programs.

This notice requests comments and information from the public to assist MARAD in understanding individuals' experiences with civilian federal agencies' implementation of CPA requirements. Insights gained from this RFI will assist MARAD in its communication and coordination with other federal agencies related to cargo preference and enhance federal transparency.
 
DOT seeks information from the public on their experiences with, and views on, the current challenges faced by civilian federal agencies, contractors, and loan and grant recipients (i.e., partners) in complying with cargo preference laws on the following topics: . . .
 
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-04201

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