Maritime Infrastructure: A Strategic Approach and Interagency Leadership Could Improve Federal Efforts in the U.S. Arctic

Arctic sea ice has diminished, lengthening the navigation season and increasing opportunities for maritime shipping. However, the U.S. Arctic lacks maritime infrastructure—such as a deep-draft port and comprehensive nautical charting—to support increased traffic. The lack of infrastructure exacerbates risks inherent to shipping in the Arctic such as vast distances and dangerous weather. This report examines (1) how U.S. Arctic shipping trends have changed since 2009 and factors that have shaped shipping in the region, and (2) the extent to which U.S. agencies’ efforts to address Arctic maritime infrastructure gaps have aligned with leading management practices. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) collected U.S. Coast Guard traffic data from 2009 through 2019 and interviewed 20 stakeholders selected to represent a range of views. GAO also analyzed Arctic strategies, interviewed selected agencies involved with maritime infrastructure, and compared efforts to leading management practices. GAO is making three recommendations, including that the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and other appropriate entities within the Executive Office of the President: develop and publish a strategy to address gaps and designate the interagency mechanism responsible for leading federal efforts. OSTP neither agreed nor disagreed but noted it is considering the need for and role of additional federal coordination. GAO stands by its recommendations.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Maps; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 51p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01738871
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO-20-460
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 29 2020 2:26PM