Federal Airport Security Investigation Shows TSA Failing To Address Security Breaches

WASHINGTON, D.C.— A federal investigation requested by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) today revealed the failure of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to adequately gather information about airport security breaches and make improvements to airport security.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation was initiated by a letter from Sen. Lautenberg following a string of security breaches at Newark Airport in 2011.

The report determined that TSA does not have a complete understanding of breaches occurring at the nation’s airports and misses opportunities to strengthen aviation security, including at Newark Liberty Airport, where TSA failed to take corrective action in a majority of the breaches that occurred from the start of 2010 through May 31, 2011.

A copy of the report can be found here: http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2012/OIG_12-80_Mar12.pdf

“This report identifies a gaping hole in our airport security system and gives us a framework for how to improve security at Newark Liberty Airport and all across the country,” said Lautenberg, Vice Chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. “The recent attempt by al-Qaeda to take down a U.S.-bound airliner showed us that terrorists are still determined to exploit aviation security gaps in order to attack America. Newark Liberty Airport and airports around the country have made security improvements, but it is clear that much more needs to be done. The TSA should adopt the Inspector General’s recommendations without delay and I will continue working in the Senate to improve our homeland security.”

The investigation highlighted that TSA at Newark Liberty Airport took corrective actions for only 42 percent of security breaches shown in its records for the time period reviewed by the OIG. This ranked Newark last of the six airports that were reviewed by TSA.

The report also concluded that, nationwide, TSA lacks an effective mechanism to gather information about security breaches and is therefore limited in its ability to prevent and take corrective actions against security breaches in the future.

The investigation recommends that the TSA better define what constitutes a security breach and develop a comprehensive oversight program to ensure breaches are accurately reported and that the agency takes action to correct vulnerabilities.

In response to today’s DHS report, Lautenberg is investigating ways to further improve airport security and ensure TSA has an adequate structure in place to report security breaches and take corrective action to prevent future security breaches.

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