The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Senate Hearing on TSA Operations: Frustrated Travelers and Threats to Aviation

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


This morning, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs held a hearing entitled, “Frustrated Travelers:  Rethinking TSA Operations to Improve Passenger Screening and Address Threats to Aviation.”

The witnesses included:

The Honorable Peter V. Neffenger, Administrator, Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

The Honorable John Roth, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Jennifer Grover, Director, Homeland Security and Justice, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)

Also today, coinciding with Ms. Grover’s testimony, GAO published a report (GAO-16-707T) entitled, “Aviation Security:  TSA Is Taking Steps to Improve Expedited Screening Effectiveness, but Improvements in Screener Oversight Are Needed."

The steps taken by TSA to “improve the security effectiveness of expedited passenger screening since GAO reported on it in December 2014” include:

  • Adjusting the TSA Pre✓® Risk Assessment program algorithm used to assign passengers scores and identify low risk passengers;
  • Limiting the use of Managed Inclusion to airports that employ canine teams to detect explosives; and,
  • Developing plans to test the security effectiveness of the Managed Inclusion process as an overall system–ensuring that the testing adheres to established design practices.

From the testimony:

“TSA uses data on Transportation Security Officer (TSO) performance obtained from its various testing programs to ensure that individual TSOs are (1) demonstrating through annual proficiency reviews and resulting recertification that they are qualified to continue conducting passenger and checked baggage screening, and (2) demonstrating proficiency during live screening operations in adhering to screening procedures…  According to the GAO, the testimony addresses the extent to which TSA (1) has taken steps to improve the security effectiveness of expedited screening and (2) uses TSO performance testing data to enhance TSO performance in screening for prohibited items. This statement is based on reports GAO issued in May 2016 and December 2014, and selected updates. Among other things, GAO analyzed TSA documentation on expedited screening and TSO testing data.

“In its May 2016 report, GAO recommended that TSA ensure that (1) airports submit complete TSO performance data, (2) the data are analyzed nationally, and (3) implementation of covert testing recommendations are tracked. DHS concurred and is taking actions to address the recommendations.”

 

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