Report: TSA Lacks Funding, Planning, Training


The TSA implemented a plan to determine staffing levels and improve training, but insufficient staffing and a lack of electronic connectivity are hampering those efforts, according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office Tuesday. The report states that TSA could improve staff training with access to online learning.

TSA's stand-alone and in-line baggage conveyor explosives detection systems could save the federal government money with more planning and funding strategies, according to the report.

In general, the TSA has agreed with, and followed, recommendations for improving aviation security, according to the GAO.

TSA Assistant Secretary Kip Hawley told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that the TSA has 15 layers of security and is in the process of strengthening each of those layers. He appeared before the committee with a GAO inspector Tuesday and said each layer of security is capable of preventing a terrorist attack.

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"Together, they are formidable," he said.

Hawley said the TSA is transitioning from a start-up mode, with large-scale acquisitions and hiring, to a more nimble, flexible state. To accomplish that, the TSA is increasing training, trying to improve employee retention and flexibility and testing new technology.

The TSA is working on a plan to use biometrics to control employees' access to secure areas while enhancing explosives detection and improving the entire system's flexibility and unpredictability.

"If it stands stiff and unyielding, no matter how strong it appears, and whatever advanced technology we deploy, that system is a sitting duck," Hawley said.