GAO: tighter federal freight rail security needed
A congressional watchdog agency said the Transportation Security Administration needs to broaden its security strategy for railed freight beyond just toxic materials in order to be more effective.
“Other federal and industry assessments have identified additional potential security threats, including risks to critical infrastructure and cybersecurity,” the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Thursday. “Although many stakeholders agreed with TSA’s initial strategy, going forward TSA has agreed that including other identified threats in its freight rail security strategy is important, and reported that it is reconsidering its strategy to incorporate other threats.”
The GAO said the U.S. rail system remains highly vulnerable to deadly terrorist attacks.
The Department of Transportation estimates that the railroads carry about 1.7 million to 1.8 million carloads of hazardous materials a year, and some of the most lethal must travel through urban areas.
“While the freight rail industry has taken actions to better secure shipments and key infrastructure, TSA has limited ability to assess the impacts of these actions because it lacks a mechanism to systematically track them and evaluate their effectiveness,” the GAO warned. “Having such information could strengthen TSA’s efforts to efficiently target its resources to where actions have not been effective.”
The GAO’s report is available here.