ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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TSA Airport Screeners Should Meet Performance and Training Standards, According to GAO Report


New York, May 09, 2005

As mandated in the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) assumed responsibility for conducting passenger and baggage screening at more than 450 commercial airports in the U.S. in 2002. A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) address actions TSA has taken to enhance training for passenger and checked baggage screeners and screening supervisors, how TSA ensures that screeners complete required training, and actions the agency has taken to measure and enhance screener performance in detecting threat objects.

TSA has come under some criticism recently for concerns about the effectiveness of the screening system. The appointment of a new TSA chief may address some of the agency’s perceived shortcomings; the GAO report urges the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to direct this position in the implementation of reforms, including standards for performance and training of screeners.

President George W. Bush announced on May 6 his intention to nominate Edmund S. "Kip" Hawley to head the TSA. Mr. Hawley is a member of the Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Services Committee and previously served as vice president of transportation services for Union Pacific Railroad in Omaha, Nebraska. Earlier in his career, he was deputy assistant secretary and executive director of governmental affairs for the Department of Transportation. Once formally nominated and if confirmed by the Senate, Hawley would replace Rear Admiral David Stone as assistant secretary of homeland security, TSA.

In addition to the establishment of performance targets for TSA airport screeners, the GAO report also called for the DHS to develop a plan for completing the deployment of high-speed connectivity at airport training facilities, and to establish and communicate appropriate internal controls for monitoring the completion of training.

“Without addressing the challenges to delivering ongoing training, including installing high-speed connectivity at airport training facilities, TSA may have difficulty maintaining a screening workforce that possesses the critical skills needed to perform at a desired level,” said the report. “In addition, without adequate internal controls designed to help ensure screeners receive required training that are also communicated throughout the agency, TSA cannot effectively provide reasonable assurances that screeners receive all required training.”

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