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Program History

An aerial view of a port.

The Surplus Property Act of 1944 authorized the former War Assets Administration to transfer surplus Federal real property to the States, their instrumentalities and other tax-supported institutions and to nonprofit institutions exempt from taxation under the Internal Revenue Code of 1939. The Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended (“Act”) continued the authority to States and their instrumentalities and nonprofit institutions to acquire properties assigned at the discretion of the designated Federal disposal agency.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 1994 (Section 2927 of Public Law 103-160) authorized the Secretary of Transportation to convey surplus Federal property to non-Federal public entities for the development and operation of port facilities. This responsibility was delegated to the Maritime Administrator in 49 CFR § 1.66. As a result, the Maritime Administration, in collaboration with the General Services Administration and the Department of Defense, developed the Port Conveyance Program.

The Port Conveyance Program requires the Maritime Administration to receive, evaluate and approve applications from prospective grantees to make recommendation for assignments of surplus property to be used for the development or operation of a port facility. Conveyance of real and related personal property assists port communities by creating jobs and stimulating the economy in localities the Department of Labor has determined to be Labor Surplus Areas. The Maritime Administration, in conjunction with the Department of Commerce, reviews and approves economic development plans submitted by eligible applicants to determine if the plan is viable, as part of a necessary economic development program.

Well-planned port conveyance development projects will improve port facility productivity and land access. These actions will benefit port communities in developing seamless intermodal transfers, thus reducing highway and rail congestion and air emission pollution caused by long delays by trucks and vessels at the ports. Port expansion through the Port Conveyance Program will assist port communities by providing adequate capacity to meet the nation’s future trade needs and the needs of the U.S. military. In addition, commercial port capacity will provide the military with greater deployment flexibility.

Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2018