Decoding OSRA: Section 16. Dwell Time Statistics

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As we continue to see the beginnings of how the recent and ongoing changes to U.S. shipping law affect businesses’ imports and exports as well as carriers’ and other industry stakeholders’ operations within maritime shipping, let’s keep digging into the exact changes made to U.S. maritime law. At Universal Cargo, we want to help shippers know how law changes affect them. What exactly does the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) say and do? This blog series goes through it section by section, so you can see exactly what our lawmakers changed in the U.S. Code dealing with shipping.

Decoding OSRA

If you’re new to this series, we give you the OSRA text; the text of the U.S. Code, usually in Title 46, before and after its amendments and/or additions; and consider what the changes mean for U.S. importers and exporters. However, this section is a little different.

Section 16 does not amend any title of U.S. Code as sections of OSRA typically do. Rather, this section of OSRA creates regulation within its own text that is not a permanent change to U.S. Code.

Previously covered in this series:

Now let’s move forward with Section 16 of OSRA. Exactly what does it say and do…

Quick Overview

As stated above, Section 16 does not amend or insert text into Title 46. That doesn’t mean it does nothing at all.

This section mandates reporting of information about dwell time of intermodal transportation equipment, particularly TEU (twenty foot equivalent unit) shipping containers and chassis. The data collected will then be published statistically for the public. All that is, however, if available allocations allow it. If it is decided the money cannot be made available for these tasks, Section 16 could be rendered moot.

Section 16 Text


    (a) Definitions.--In this section:
            (1) Director.--The term ``Director'' means the Director of 
        the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
            (2) Marine container.--The term ``marine container'' means 
        an intermodal container with a length of--
                    (A) not less than 20 feet; and
                    (B) not greater than 45 feet.
            (3) Out of service percentage.--The term ``out of service 
        percentage'' means the proportion of the chassis fleet for any 
        defined geographical area that is out of service at any one 
            (4) Street dwell time.--The term ``street dwell time'', with 
        respect to a piece of equipment, means the quantity of time 
        during which the piece of equipment is in use outside of the 

    (b) Authority to Collect Data.--
            (1) In general. – <<NOTE: Determination.>> Each port, marine 
        terminal operator, and chassis owner or provider with a fleet of 
        over 50 chassis that supply chassis for a fee shall submit to 
        the Director such data as the Director determines to be 
        necessary for the implementation of this section, subject to 
        subchapter III of chapter 35 of title 44, United States Code.
            (2) Approval by omb. – <<NOTE: Deadline.>> Subject to the 
        availability of appropriations, not later than 60 days after the 
        date of enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of 
        Management and Budget shall approve an information collection 
        for purposes of this section.

    (c) Publication. – <<NOTE: Deadline. Time period.>> Subject to the 
availability of appropriations, not later than 240 days after the date 
of enactment of this Act, and not less frequently than monthly 
thereafter, the Director shall publish statistics relating to the dwell 
time of equipment used in intermodal transportation at the top 25 ports, 
including inland ports, by 20-foot equivalent unit, including--
            (1) total street dwell time, from all causes, of marine 
        containers and marine container chassis; and
            (2) the average out of service percentage, which shall not 
        be identifiable with any particular port, marine terminal 
        operator, or chassis provider.

    (d) Factors.--Subject to the availability of appropriations, to the 
maximum extent practicable, the Director shall publish the statistics 
described in subsection (c) on a local, regional, and national basis.
    (e) Sunset.--The authority under this section shall expire December 
31, 2026.

Original Title 46 Text


Amended Text


I left these sections in here to show how OSRA normally amends text of Title 46 and display the way posts of this series usually work.

Paragraph (a) Observations

The first paragraph, with its four subparagraphs, of OSRA’s sixteenth section is made up of definitions to add clarity to the regulation Section 16 creates in later paragraphs.

I won’t break down each definition or redefine their terms, but I will make an observation. It is clear from this set of definitions that the lawmakers are concerned with information about shipping equipment, and standard shipping containers in particular, that are not at the ports. And it’s easy to understand why.

Maldistribution of shipping containers, after hundreds of blanked (cancelled) sailings early in the pandemic, factored into the “supply chain crisis” that inspired politicians on both sides of the aisle to make shipping law changes. Information about the percentage of shipping containers that are unavailable is clearly relevant information for a smoothly operating supply chain and, thus, on the minds of the lawmaker(s) who wrote this section.

Paragraph (b) Observations

Paragraph (b) breaks down into two subparagraphs that are very distinct from each other, so let’s break down this section of today’s post into two subsections.

Subparagraph (1)

Subparagraph (1) defines who (ports, marine terminal operators, and chassis owners or providers) are to report information to the Director of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (who “Director” was defined as previously). The Director of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics is to determine exactly what information needs to be reported. Here, subparagraph (1) references Title 44 because it sets regulation or policy around government required information in Chapter 35.

There’s nothing too difficult to understand here. The one observation is that the lawmakers didn’t put it upon themselves to decide exactly what information should be reported; they gave leeway to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics to figure out the specifics.

Subparagraph (2)

I find the second subparagraph of Paragraph (a) to be a little more interesting than the first. Only a little. According to this subparagraph, the Office of Management and Budget has to approve the information collection we were just talking about. That approval is to be based on the amount of government money available. It doesn’t make the information collection, and therefore Section 16, seem as important to the lawmakers as previous sections. Perhaps that’s why this little piece of legislation doesn’t get written directly into Title 46. On the other hand, the two month timeline from when OSRA is enacted puts a ticking clock on getting this information reporting in place and approved, which might give it some sense of urgency.

This subparagraph could be interpreted in the positive light of there being some monetary oversight regarding what Section 16 requires. Alternately, some might see it in the negative light that the government might be making unnecessary levels of legislation here, possibly causing more spending of resources on this than necessary.

Paragraph (c) Observations

The third main paragraph of this section is where the real meat is found. This brings together what a reader likely would have already suspected from the definitions and reporting paragraphs. Here we learn exactly what the lawmakers of OSRA want reported with the inclusion of Section 16: statistics relating to the unavailability of shipping containers and chassis at America’s top 25 ports.

While Paragraph (c) reveals the specific things the lawmakers want reported about to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, it also gives the purpose of it and instructions to the bureau. The lawmakers want this data published for the public at least once a month. But again, the lawmakers make it clear this is all dependent upon available appropriations, which again makes it feel like this is not a top priority in OSRA.

Paragraph (d) Observations

Paragraph (d) is very short. It does again point out that this is “subject to the availability of appropriations,” but I won’t pound what that says to me into the ground. The lawmakers want the Director of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics to publish reports on the percentages of shipping containers and chassis that are unavailable on a local, regional, and national level. Perhaps collecting the data and publishing such reports every single month seems like a lot to OSRA’s writers, and they put the condition of available appropriations as an out for the Bureau of Transportation Statistics if the task seemed like too much. Ultimately, there’s nothing in this section that I can see that you wouldn’t be able to see for yourself, dear reader, so I won’t belabor it.

Paragraph (e) Observations

No real observation here. This just provides an end date for this reporting and publishing business, which is probably the real reason this doesn’t go into Title 46 itself. Section 16’s legislation comes to an end on December 31, 2026.


Section 16 sets up the reporting and publishing of data on the percentage of standard shipping containers and chassis that are away from the port terminals, thus, unavailable. It’s not a permanent rule and is, in fact, subject to available appropriations.

The lawmakers who wrote OSRA obviously see value in this data, but it is not one of the highest priorities of the act.

If you noticed something in Section 16 of OSRA that you think deserves more attention, please let us know in the comments section below. Perhaps you have a take on it that I didn’t consider or disagree with an observation I’ve made. We’d love to hear from you.

Stay tuned for when Decoding OSRA continues, looking at Section 17….

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