The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) has announced that it has hired the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to conduct an in-depth organizational review. The scope is comprehensive, including a look at MARAD's core functions, its role within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and its "benefit to the nation."
According to MARAD's announcement, the study will evaluate the following issues:
1. How effectively and efficiently MARAD meets its statutory and presidentially-directed responsibilities;
2. How MARAD programs perform, their position within MARAD’s responsibilities, and how they can be more effectively managed;
3. How MARAD compares to successful maritime transport organizations; and
4. How MARAD’s missions and operations can support national defense and maritime transportation responsibilities and best fit within DOT.
The NAPA study team will work with a five person "Panel of Fellows" over a six-month time period to develop a report that examines the agency’s programs, management, resulting outcomes, and opportunities for improving efficiency. The report will provide recommendations to enhance its mission.
MARAD oversees several programs that are critical to the United States' maritime industry, including the Maritime Security Program (MSP), which underwrites U.S.-flag deep sea shipping, and the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), one of the five federal service academies. It also administers the "mothball fleet" of decommissioned government vessels.
While the announcement did not mention any particular program, MARAD has come under fire in particular for its oversight and management of USMMA. Last year, an outside review panel for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education found that MARAD's rigid hiring processes made it difficult for the academy to recruit administrative staff, complicating its efforts to reform internal management. And last year, academy alumni were infuriated when MARAD abruptly suspended the school's long-standing "Sea Year" training program over concerns related to sexual assault, harassment and intimidation. In addition, MARAD and USMMA have come under congressional scrutiny for their handling of sexual assault and harassment on campus.