GAO CONTINUES TO HAMMER AIR-CARGO SECURITY WEAKNESSES
The U.S. Government Accounting Office continues to criticize the Transportation Security Agency for not moving more quickly to ensure the nation’s air-cargo security.
“Although TSA has focused much effort and funding on ensuring that bombs and other threat items are not carried onto planes by passengers or in their luggage, vulnerabilities exist in securing the cargo carried aboard commercial passenger and all-cargo aircraft,” said Gerald L. Dillingham, GAO’s director of physical infrastructure issues in testimony to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States.
Dillingham said even after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks air cargo remains “vulnerable to attack” and that effective security for this transport mode “may be many years away.”
The Aviation and Transportation Security Act requires that all air cargo be screened. The “known shipper” program is another security tool for TSA.
“However, we and DOT’s inspector general have identified weaknesses in the known shipper program and in TSA’s procedures for approving freight forwarders,” Dillingham said.
TSA started a known shipper database in October 2002. The database is the first phase in developing a cargo-profiling system similar to the computer-assisted passenger prescreening system. GAO said additional operational and technological measures, such as checking the identity of individuals, are still necessary.
GAO also continued to criticize the TSA for lacking a “comprehensive plan with long-term goals and performance targets for cargo security, time frames for completing security improvements, and risk-based criteria for prioritizing actions to achieve those goals.”