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48 in issues such as port throughput, port connectivity, port effi- infrastructure, and a measure appropriate for one may not be ciency, and port costs per unit shipped. relevant to another. Ultimately, ports are pro viders of trans- While many individual stakeholders regularly apply per- portation services, and the fundamental common metric is formance metrics to their particular function within the "customer satisfaction." The American Association of Port MTS, to date there has been no successful effort to charac- Authorities addresses this issue on its website: terize or measure the performance of the system as a whole. For example, a report by MARAD concluded that the federal AAPA continuously receives requests on how ports rank ationally and internationally. The question is ambiguous, how- n agency could not apprise Congress of the nation's ports' abil- ever, since ports can be compared in many different ways--by ity to handle a large military deployment because of a lack volume or value of trade, number of cruise passengers, revenues, of common measures.5 It noted that the significant diversity and storage capacity, as examples. Moreover, sheer size of a in ports, the types of cargo they handle, their inland connec- port, in terms of traffic flow, says nothing about productivity, tions, and the geographic configuration of their harbors and efficiency, or responsiveness to customers. These are just some channels all created great diversity. The ports as an industry of the criteria that a shipper might consider in evaluating port performance. have a few common denominators but none that are uni- formly monitored or reported, MARAD stated. MARAD concluded in its congressional report: Additional Practitioners In preparing this report, MARAD reviewed articles and In an effort to solicit additional responses from the pri- tudies from the academic and scientific communities that set s vate sector and from researchers who have worked with the forth methodologies for measuring port efficiency. The litera- private sector, approximately 10 additional practitioners ture reviewed supported MARAD's finding that there is no wide- spread agreement on an approach to measuring the efficiency who have been active in NCFRP programs were contacted. of a port as a link in the logistics chain. A 2004 article in Mari- Seven of them responded to the survey and provided addi- time Policy & Management states: "Measures of port efficiency tional insight into the freight performancemeasure issue. or performance indicators use a diverse range of techniques for They were a mix of private-sector logistics professionals, assessment and analysis, but although many analytical tools and researchers, and government officials. instruments exist, a problem arises when one tries to apply them to a range of ports and terminals. Ports are very dissimilar and As can be seen in Figure 5.9, this group gave consistently even within a single port the current or potential activities can be higher scores to all of the proposed performance measures broad in scope and nature, so that the choice of an appropriate than did the state officials. This may reflect a self-selection tool of analysis is difficult. Organizational dissimilarity consti- influence in that these individuals were specifically selected tutes a serious limitation to enquiry, not only concerning what to because of their interest in freight research. This group ranked measure but also how to measure. Furthermore, the concept of all measures with an average score of 3.05, while the state offi- efficiency is vague and proves difficult to apply in a typical port organization extending across production, trading and service cials' average score was 2.14 for the value of all the measures, industries." out of a scale of 04. MARAD was unable to provide the requested comparison [to Also perhaps reflecting the national perspective of this Congress] of the most congested ports in terms of operational group, the national measures were consistently ranked higher efficiency due to a lack of consistent national port efficiency than they were by the state officials. In fact, national versus data. Given the diverse characteristics of U.S. ports, comparing port efficiency would require the creation of new methodolo- local measures switched rankings between the two popula- gies and the collection of data that were not available for this tions. For this group, national measures were ranked highest report. in six of the top eight highest-ranked measures. For the state officials, national measures did not appear even in the top Internally, port operations have generated some standards 10. All the top measures ranked for state officials consisted of measures, but these are mainly of interest to the internal, local or regional measures. business operations of the port. They tend to regard how As can be seen, the top performance measures for this efficiently port crews operate, whether labor rules restrict effi- group were related to congestion, infrastructure condition, ciency in loading and unloading, and whether internal con- and environmental externalities of freight. However, it should figuration of ports, parking lots, cranes, and storage areas are be noted that eight categories were listed and three choices efficient.6 These measures are unlikely to be appropriate for a were available for each category--a national, regional, or national set of performance measures because they tend to be local category for that measure. In nearly all cases, this group proprietary, would be difficult to collect, and may not influ- rated the national measure more valuable than the same mea- ence public policy but rather internal port and terminal oper- sure provided at the regional or local level. Again, this empha- ations. Each port is a unique business, operating over unique sizes this population's national perspective.