The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report titled, “Federal Maritime Commission: Improved Use of Data on Shippers’ Complaints Could Enhance Oversight.”

The report, which was required under the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, examined whether shippers of hazardous materials (hazmat) were disadvantaged by ocean carriers during the pandemic. Many shippers found it difficult to secure space on shipping vessels for critical hazmat shipments, noting that consumer products were prioritized over hazmat products.

The GAO report recommended that the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) update its procedures to better collect and manage hazmat-specific data, while also noting significant stagnation in hazmat imports during the times in question.

Following the report’s release, Alliance for Chemical Distribution (ACD), formerly the National Association of Chemical Distributors, President and CEO, Eric R. Byer, released the following statement on its findings:

“The role of the FMC is to ensure the ocean shipping system remains competitive and reliable. For too long, the practices taken by ocean carriers have harmed businesses and consumers across the nation. This was particularly true during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many ACD members experienced shipment delays and cost spikes, causing severe uncertainty for the chemical distribution industry and our supply chain partners.

“ACD encourages the FMC to take concrete action to prevent shippers from bearing the burden of increased costs and inefficiencies within the ocean carrier system. The GAO’s report highlights the agency’s insufficient data collection, hindering a comprehensive understanding of industry trends. Commissioner Carl Bentzel’s Maritime Transportation Data Initiative (MTDI) could well prove to be the solution to this problem and thus we strongly encourage the Commission’s adoption of this effort.   

To read the GAO report, click here.

To learn more about The ACD, visit