The United States' Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) on Friday announced it creating a new bureau to handle its enforcement and compliance activities.
The agency, which is responsible for the regulation of oceanborne international transportation of the U.S., said it is consolidating its investigative and prosecution functions into a newly created Bureau of Enforcement, Investigations, and Compliance (BEIC) effective immediately.
FMC Chairman Daniel B. Maffei said the reorganization "enhances FMC’s capacity to closely scrutinize the conduct of the ocean carrier companies and marine terminal operators to ensure compliance with the law and fairness for American importers and exporters".
"Robust enforcement of the Shipping Act is absolutely key to the effectiveness of the Federal Maritime Commission. This reorganization has the support of all five Commissioners and creates a structure better suited to meeting the mandate the President and Congress have given this agency to prioritize enforcement," Maffei said.
In June, President Joe Biden signed into law the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which, among other things, boosts the FMC's investigatory authority by allowing it to launch probes of the business practices of ocean common carriers and apply enforcement measures. The Biden Administration said the legislation is designed to improve oversight of ocean shipping, which will help curb inflation and ease export backlogs.
The BEIC is being created after an internal examination of the agency's enforcement and compliance activities determined a restructuring and merging of enforcement and compliance programs would result in a more efficient, coordinated and responsive operation from initiation to conclusion of an investigation, FMC said.
The newly established bureau will be headed by an attorney in the Senior Executive Service with regulatory, prosecutorial and investigatory experience. The Commission’s Managing Director, Lucille M. Marvin, will also serve as Acting Director until a permanent Director is hired.
The bureau will be divided into three sections: the Office of Enforcement, the Office of Investigations and the Office of Compliance. These offices will each be led by an Office Director. The BEIC Director will supervise and manage the activities of the three offices and will be supported by a Deputy Director who will assist with program management. The BEIC Director will report to the Managing Director.
As part of the reorganization, the Commission is converting the positions of Area Representatives to Investigators, placing them in the Office of Investigations. Additionally, the Commission will increase the number of investigators it has on staff. Investigators will now focus exclusively on enforcement activity and the public outreach function formerly handled by the Area Representative role will be handled by the Commission’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services as part of their broader public assistance work.