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Homeland Security

Aviation Security: Vulnerabilities Still Exist in the Aviation Security
System (Testimony, 04/06/2000, GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-00-142).
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the security of the
nation's air transportation system, focusing on the Federal Aviation
Administration's (FAA) efforts to implement and improve security in two
key areas: (1) air traffic control computer systems; and (2) airport
passenger screening checkpoints.
GAO noted that: (1) GAO's work has identified security problems in both
the air traffic control computer systems and in the performance of
checkpoint screeners; (2) a report GAO issued in 1998 detailed
weaknesses in critical computer security areas, including the physical
security at facilities that house air traffic control systems and the
management of security for operational computer systems; (3) FAA has
initiated actions to resolve these problems; however, in December 1999,
GAO reported that FAA was still not following its own security
requirements as it failed to conduct the required background searches on
contractor employees reviewing and repairing critical computer system
software; (4) FAA and the airline industry have made little progress in
improving the effectiveness of airport checkpoint screeners; (5)
screeners are not adequately detecting dangerous objects, and
long-standing problems affecting screeners' performance remain, such as
the rapid screener turnover and the inattention to screener training;
(6) FAA's efforts to address these problems are behind schedule; (7) the
security problems GAO has found would by themselves be cause for
concern; (8) unfortunately, the problems GAO has identified are not
unique; (9) problems identified by others such as the Department of
Transportation's Inspector General, point out weaknesses in a number of
other key avaition protection measures; (10) taken together, these
problems point out that effective security for the nation's aviation
system has not yet been achieved; (11) it is often said that a chain is
only as strong as its weakest link; in the case of aviation security,
there are still many weak links; (12) it must be recognized that these
weak links are not the responsibility of FAA alone; (13) the
responsibility for certain conditions, such as the rapid screener
turnover, more appropriately rests with the air carriers and screening
companies; (14) it will, therefore, take the cooperation of the aviation
industry to put into place the actions needed to improve security; (15)
the fact that there have been no major security incidents in recent
years could breed an attitude of complacency; (16) maintaining or
improving aviation security in such an environment is more challenging;
and (17) continual congressional oversight will be needed to hold the
aviation community accountable for establishing and achieving specific
improvement goals and changes.
--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------
 REPORTNUM:  T-RCED/AIMD-00-142
     TITLE:  Aviation Security: Vulnerabilities Still Exist in the
	     Aviation Security System
      DATE:  04/06/2000
   SUBJECT:  Computer security
	     Air traffic control systems
	     Transportation safety
	     Airline industry
	     Internal controls
	     Facility security
	     Information resources management
	     Aviation
	     Human resources training
	     Airports
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Testimony
Before the Subcommittee on Aviation, Committee on Commerce, Science, and
Transportation, U.S. Senate
For Release on Delivery
Expected at
10:00 a.m. EDT
Thursday,
April 6, 2000
AVIATION SECURITY
Vulnerabilities Still Exist in the Aviation Security System
Statement of Gerald L. Dillingham,
Associate Director, Transportation Issues,
Resources, Community, and Economic
Development Division
GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-00-142
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
We appreciate the opportunity to be here today to discuss the security of
the nation's air transport system. The air transport system is vital to our
nation's prosperity, and protecting this system from terrorist attacks or
other dangerous acts remains an important national issue. Events over the
past decade have shown that the threat of terrorism against the United
States is an ever-present danger and, coupled with the fact that aviation is
an attractive target for terrorists, indicate that the security of the air
transport system remains at risk. Protecting this system demands a high
level of vigilance because a single lapse in aviation security can result in
hundreds of deaths, destroy equipment worth hundreds of millions of dollars,
and have immeasurable negative impacts on the economy and the public's
confidence in air travel.
Our testimony today discusses the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA)
efforts to implement and improve security in two key areas: air traffic
control computer systems and airport passenger screening checkpoints.
Computer systems-and the information within-are the crucial link for
providing information to air traffic controllers and aircraft flight crews
to ensure the safe and expeditious movement of aircraft. Screening
checkpoints and the screeners who operate them provide the means to ensure
that passengers and others do not bring dangerous items aboard aircraft. Our
testimony is based on issued reports on computer security and on work that
we have under way on checkpoint screeners that we are conducting at this
Subcommittee's request. Our report on checkpoint screeners will be issued
shortly.
In summary, Mr. Chairman, our work has identified security problems in both
the air traffic control computer systems and in the performance of
checkpoint screeners:
   * A report we issued in 1998 detailed weaknesses in critical computer
     security areas, including the physical security at facilities that
     house air traffic control systems and the management of security for
     operational computer systems. For example, FAA had not assessed the
     physical security at a large portion of its air traffic control
     facilities and had not performed the necessary threat analyses for 87
     of its 90 operational air traffic control computer systems in the 5
     years prior to our review. FAA has since initiated actions to resolve
     the problems we identified in these instances; however, in December
     1999, we reported that FAA was still not following its own security
     requirements as it failed to conduct the required background searches
     on contractor employees reviewing and repairing critical computer
     system software.
   * FAA and the airline industry have made little progress in improving the
     effectiveness of airport checkpoint screeners. Screeners are not
     adequately detecting dangerous objects, and long-standing problems
     affecting screeners' performance remain, such as the rapid screener
     turnover and the inattention to screener training. FAA's efforts to
     address these problems are behind schedule. For example, FAA is 2 years
     behind schedule in issuing a regulation that would implement a
     congressionally mandated requirement to certify screening companies and
     improve the training and testing of screeners. Partially as a
     consequence of its delays, FAA has not attained its fiscal year 1999
     Government Performance and Results Act goals for improving screener
     performance. Five countries we visited had different screening
     practices and significantly lower screener turnover and may have better
     screener performance. One country's screeners detected over twice as
     many test objects in a joint testing program that it conducted with
     FAA.
The security problems we have found would by themselves be cause for
concern. Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, the problems we have identified are
not unique. Problems identified by others, such as the Department of
Transportation's Inspector General, point out weaknesses in a number of
other key aviation protection measures. Taken together, these problems show
the chain of security protecting our aviation system has not one but several
weak links. It must be recognized that the responsibility for these problems
does not fall on the shoulders of FAA alone. The aviation industry is
responsible for undertaking the security measures at airports and many of
the problems identified-such as rapid screener turnover-more appropriately
rest with it.
The fact that there have been no major security incidents in recent
years-such as the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103-could breed an attitude
of complacency. Maintaining or improving aviation security in such an
environment is more challenging. However, serious vulnerabilities in our
aviation security system exist and must be adequately addressed. We
expressed concern 2 years ago that the momentum of aviation security
improvements must not be lost, and we express that concern again today.
Continual congressional oversight will be needed to hold the aviation
community accountable for establishing and achieving specific improvement
goals and changes.
Background
Before I discuss these issues in greater detail, it is important to place
some perspective on the nation's aviation security system. Providing
security to the nation's aviation system is a complex and difficult task
because of the size of the U.S. system, the differences among airlines and
airports, and the unpredictable nature of terrorism or criminal acts. The
U.S. civil aviation system comprises hundreds of commercial airports,
thousands of aircraft, and tens of thousands of flights each day that
transport over 2 million passengers. FAA has hundreds of facilities
throughout the country that monitor and direct the flow of aircraft to
ensure they arrive safely at their intended destination. Providing security
to such a vast and diverse system can be a daunting challenge.
Yet the need for strong aviation security grows every day. The threat of
terrorism against the United States remains high and, as evidenced by the
1995 discovery of a plot to bomb as many as 11 U.S. airliners, civil
aviation is an attractive target. More recent events such as the December
1999 apprehension at the Canadian border of a suspected terrorist with bomb
components, including some small enough to be brought onto an aircraft,
reaffirm the need for concern. Other threats such as "air rage"-those
hostile or possibly criminal acts that occur onboard aircraft-are on the
increase and could be potentially catastrophic if dangerous objects, such as
weapons, were to be involved. In the past month alone, there have been two
such incidents in which passengers attacked pilots in the cabins of airborne
flights. Finally, a growing threat-computer hackers-has evolved that could
threaten the security of aircraft or the entire national airspace system. If
hackers are able to penetrate the air traffic control system, they could
attack the computer systems used to communicate with and control aircraft,
potentially causing significant economic problems and placing aircraft at
risk.
The threat of terrorist or other acts against aircraft have led to numerous
calls for improvements that address the vulnerabilities in the aviation
system. During the last decade, two presidential commissions have reviewed
and reported on problems with various aspects of aviation security, and two
major laws have been enacted that required actions to improve security
measures. Additionally, the Congress provided about $1 billion to FAA over
the last 4 fiscal years to carry out its civil aviation security program,
including over $340 million for the purchase and deployment of security
equipment at U.S. airports.
ATC Computer Security
Securing the air traffic control (ATC) computer systems that provide
information to controllers and flight crews is critical to the safe and
expeditious movement of aircraft. Failure to adequately protect these
systems, as well as the facilities that house them, could cause nationwide
disruption of air traffic or even loss of life. Moreover, malicious attacks
on computer systems are becoming an increasing threat, and it is essential
that FAA ensure the integrity and availability of the ATC computer systems
and protect them from unauthorized access. Numerous laws as well as FAA's
policy require that these systems be adequately protected.
However, as we reported in May 1998, FAA had been ineffective in four
critical computer security areas we reviewed. The first of these areas was
physical security at
key ATC facilities, such as towers and en route centers, where known
weaknesses existed. For example, contractor employees were given
unrestricted access to sensitive areas without required background
investigations. In addition, at many facilities, the extent of weaknesses
was unknown because FAA did not follow its own security policy and did not
conduct the required physical security assessments from 1993 to 1998 at a
large portion of its ATC facilities.
Second, FAA had not ensured the security of operational ATC systems. FAA's
policy requires that all ATC systems be assessed for risk, certified that
they comply with FAA's requirements, and accredited by FAA management once
the appropriate security safeguards have been implemented. However, of 90
operational ATC systems, only 3-less than 4 percent-were certified and none
was accredited. Additionally, security assessments for ATC
telecommunications systems were similarly lacking. Eight of nine
telecommunications systems were not assessed despite the fact that FAA's
1994 Telecommunications Strategic Plan stated that "vulnerabilities that can
be exploited in aeronautical telecommunications potentially threaten
property and public safety."
Third, FAA was not adequately managing security for new ATC systems. Because
FAA had no security architecture, security concept of operations, or
security standards, the implementation of security requirements for ATC
development efforts were ad hoc and sporadic. Of the six system development
efforts we reviewed, only four had security requirements, and of these, only
two were based on risk assessments. Without security requirements based on
sound risk assessments, FAA lacks assurance that future ATC systems will be
protected from attack.
Fourth, FAA's management structure was not effectively implementing and
enforcing computer security policy. Responsible offices did not adequately
implement and enforce security policy, and FAA lacked a central point for
enforcing security. In particular, FAA did not have a Chief Information
Officer (CIO) reporting directly to the FAA Administrator, a management
structure consistent with Clinger-Cohen Act requirements.
As a result of our work, FAA has initiated efforts to address all four
computer security problem areas. For example, it has inspected the
facilities it had not assessed since 1993, and it has established a CIO
position with responsibility for developing, implementing, and enforcing the
agency's security policy. Nevertheless, weaknesses continue in FAA's efforts
to maintain effective computer security. In December 1999, we reported that
FAA was still not following its own security requirements. We found FAA used
contractor employees to make Year 2000 repairs to mission-critical ATC
systems and to review these systems' software without the required
background searches being performed. In one case, we found that no
background searches were performed on 36 foreign nationals who had access to
copies of critical ATC systems' source code. As a result of not following
its own security requirements, FAA increased the risk of inappropriate
individuals gaining access to, and knowledge of, its facilities,
information, and resources. Consequently, the ATC system may now be more
susceptible to intrusion and malicious attacks. We are currently following
up on the status of FAA's efforts to resolve the computer security problems
we identified as part of an ongoing computer security review.
Checkpoint Screeners
Not only have we found security problems at air traffic control facilities,
but more significantly, we have found problems at the screening checkpoints
at airports. The screening checkpoints and the screeners who operate them
are a key line of defense against the introduction of dangerous objects into
the aviation system. All passengers and their baggage must be checked for
weapons, explosives, or other dangerous articles that could pose a threat to
the safety of an aircraft and those aboard it. FAA and the air carriers
share this responsibility. FAA prescribes the screening regulations and
establishes the basic standards for the screeners, the equipment, and the
procedures to be used, and the air carriers are responsible for screening
passengers and their baggage
before they are permitted into the secure areas of an airport or onto an
aircraft. Air carriers can use their own employees to conduct screening
activities, but for the most part, air carriers hire security companies to
do the screening.
The screeners detect thousands of dangerous objects each year. Over the past
5 years, they detected nearly 10,000 firearms being carried through
checkpoints, according to FAA. Nevertheless, the screeners do not identify
all threats, and instances occur each year in which weapons are discovered
to have passed through a checkpoint. We found a number of cases in which
passengers passed through checkpoints on the first flight of their trips and
were subsequently found to have loaded guns at screening checkpoints prior
to boarding connecting flights. Similarly, we are aware of two instances in
which simulated explosive devices used for testing screeners passed through
screening checkpoints and were placed aboard aircraft.
Concerns have been raised for many years by us and by others about the
effectiveness of the screeners and the need to improve their performance. In
1978, the screeners were not detecting 13 percent of the potentially
dangerous objects FAA agents carried through checkpoints during tests-a
level that was considered "significant and alarming." In 1987, we found that
screeners were not detecting 20 percent of the objects during FAA's tests.
Two presidential commissions-established after the bombing of Pan Am Flight
103 in 1988 and the then-unexplained crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1996-as well
as numerous reports by GAO and the Department of Transportation's Inspector
General have highlighted problems with screening and the need for
improvements. To rectify some of these problems, the Federal Aviation
Reauthorization Act of 1996 mandated that FAA certify screening companies,
improve the training and testing of the screeners, and develop performance
standards. However, Mr. Chairman, problems with the screeners' performance
remain a serious concern. Data on FAA's test results can
not be released publicly, but our research shows that the screeners' ability
to detect objects during the agency's tests is not improving, and in some
cases is worsening.
Screeners' Performance Problems Are Attributed to Rapid Turnover and
Inattention to Human Factors
There is no single reason why screeners fail to identify dangerous objects.
Two conditions-rapid screener turnover and inadequate attention to human
factors-are believed to be important causes. The rapid turnover among
screeners has been a long-standing problem, having been singled out as a
concern in FAA and GAO reports dating back to at least 1979. We reported in
1987 that turnover among screeners was about 100 percent a year at some
airports, and today, the turnover is considerably higher. From May 1998
through April 1999, turnover averaged 126 percent among screeners at 19
large airports, with 5 airports reporting turnover of 200 percent or more
and 1 reporting turnover of 416 percent. At one airport we visited, of the
993 screeners trained there over about a 1-year period, only 142, or 14
percent, were still employed at the end of that year. Such rapid turnover
can seriously affect the level of experience among the screeners operating a
checkpoint. Appendix I lists the turnover rates for screeners at 19 large
airports.
Both FAA and the aviation industry attribute the rapid turnover to the low
wages the screeners receive, the minimal benefits, and the daily stress of
the job. Generally, screeners get paid at or near the minimum wage. We found
that some of the screening companies at many of the nation's largest
airports paid screeners a starting salary of $6 an hour or less, and at some
airports the starting salary was the minimum wage-$5.15 an hour. It is
common for the starting wages at airport fast-food restaurants to be higher
than the wages the screeners receive. For instance, at one airport we
visited, the screeners' wages started as low as $6.25 an hour, whereas the
starting wage at one of the airport's fast-food restaurants was $7 an hour.
The human factors associated with screening-those work-related issues that
are influenced by human capabilities and constraints-have also been noted by
FAA as problems affecting performance for over 20 years. Screening duties
require repetitive tasks as well as intense monitoring for the very rare
event when a dangerous object might be observed. Too little attention has
been given to factors such as (1) individuals' aptitudes for effectively
performing screening duties, (2) the sufficiency of the training provided to
the screeners and how well they comprehend it, and (3) the monotony of the
job and the distractions that reduce the screeners' vigilance. As a result,
screeners are being placed on the job who do not have the necessary
abilities or adequate knowledge to effectively perform the work and who then
find the duties tedious and unstimulating.
FAA Is Making Efforts to Address Causes of Screeners' Performance Problems,
but Progress Has Been Slow
FAA has demonstrated that it is aware of the need to improve the screeners'
performance by conducting efforts intended to address the turnover and human
factors problems and by establishing goals with which to measure the
agency's success in improving performance. The efforts include establishing
a threat image projection system to keep screeners alert and to monitor
their performance; a screening company certification program; and screener
selection tests, computer-based training, and readiness tests. FAA's
implementation of these efforts, however, has encountered substantial delays
and is behind schedule. I would like to focus on two key efforts, the threat
image projection system and the screening company certification program, and
then discuss FAA's progress in achieving its goals for improved screener
performance.
The Threat Image Projection System
FAA is deploying an enhancement to the X-ray machines used at the
checkpoints called the threat image projection (TIP) system. As screeners
routinely scan passengers' carry-on bags, TIP occasionally projects images
of dangerous objects like guns and explosives on the X-ray machines'
screens. The screeners are expected to spot the objects and signal for the
bags to be manually searched. Once prompted, TIP indicates whether an image
is of an actual object in a bag or was generated by the system and also
records the screeners' responses, providing a measure of their performance
while keeping them more alert. By frequently exposing screeners to what
dangerous objects look like on screen, TIP will also provide continuous
on-the-job training.
FAA is behind schedule in deploying this system. It had planned to begin
deploying 284 units to 19 large airports in April 1998. But as a result of
hardware and software problems, FAA dropped its plans to install the units
on existing X-ray machines nationwide. Instead, in mid-2000, it will begin
purchasing and deploying 1,380 new X-ray machines already equipped with the
TIP system. FAA expects to have the system in place at the largest airports
by the end of fiscal year 2001 and at all airports by the end of fiscal
2003.
Unfortunately, the delays in the TIP system's deployment have impeded
another key initiative to improve the screeners' performance: the
certification of screening companies.
The Certification of Screening Companies
In response to a mandate in the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996
and a recommendation from the 1997 White House Commission on Aviation Safety
and Security, FAA is creating a program to certify the security companies
that staff the screening checkpoints. The agency plans to establish
performance standards-an action we recommended in 1987-that the screening
companies will have to meet to earn and retain certification. It will also
require that all screeners pass automated readiness tests after training and
that all air carriers have TIP units on the X-ray machines at their
checkpoints so that the screeners' performance can be measured to ensure
FAA's standards are met. FAA believes that the need to meet certification
standards will give the security companies a greater incentive to retain
their best screeners longer and so will indirectly reduce turnover by
raising the screeners' wages and improving training. Most of the air
carrier, screening company, and airport representatives we contacted said
they believe certification has the potential to improve the screeners'
performance.
FAA plans to use data from the TIP system to guide it in setting its
performance standards, but because the system will not be at all airports
before the end of fiscal year 2003, the agency is having to explore
additional ways to set standards. FAA plans to issue the regulation
establishing the certification program by May 2001, over 2 years later than
its earlier estimated issue date of March 1999. According to FAA, it has
needed more time to develop performance standards and to develop and process
a very complex regulation. The first certification of screening companies is
expected to take place in 2002.
FAA's Goals for Screeners' Performance
As required by the Government Performance and Results Act, FAA established
goals in 1998 for improving screeners' detection of test objects carried
through metal detectors and concealed in carry-on baggage. FAA views
specific data relating to these goals, as well as other information relating
to screeners' detection rates, to be too sensitive to release publicly.
However, it can be said that, in part because of the delays in implementing
its screener improvement efforts, the agency did not meet its first-year
goals for improving screener performance. FAA acknowledged that it did not
meet its fiscal year 1999 improvement goal for detecting dangerous objects
carried through metal detectors, but it believed that it had nearly met its
goal for improving their detection in carry-on baggage. However, we found
flaws in FAA's methodology for computing detection rates, and that, in fact,
the goal was not met. We have discussed our findings with FAA, and as result
of our findings and the delays in its initiatives, the agency is revising
its goals.
We are encouraged that FAA is currently developing an integrated checkpoint
screening management plan to better focus its efforts and meet its goals for
improving the screeners' performance. According to FAA officials, the plan,
which is still in draft form, will (1) incorporate FAA's goals for improving
the screeners' performance and detail how its efforts relate to the
achievement of the goals; (2) identify and prioritize checkpoint and human
factors problems that need to be resolved; and (3) provide measures for
addressing the performance problems, including related milestone and budget
information. Moreover, the draft plan will consolidate the responsibility
for screening checkpoint improvements under a single program manager, who
will oversee and coordinate efforts at FAA headquarters, field locations,
and the agency's Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. FAA expects
the plan to be completed in April 2000 and to be continuously updated based
on its progress.
Screening Practices in Five Other Countries Differ From U.S. Practices
To identify screening practices that differ from those in the United States,
we visited five countries-Belgium, Canada, France, the Netherlands, and the
United Kingdom-viewed by FAA and the aviation industry as having effective
screening operations. These countries also have significantly lower screener
turnover than the United States-about 50 percent or lower. We found some
significant differences in four areas: screening operations, screeners'
qualifications, screeners' pay and benefits, and institutional
responsibility for screening.
First, screening operations in some countries are more stringent. For
example, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom routinely touch or
"pat down" passengers in response to metal detector alarms. Additionally,
all five countries allow only ticketed passengers through the screening
checkpoints, thereby allowing the screeners to more thoroughly check fewer
people. Some countries also have a greater police or military presence near
checkpoints. In the United Kingdom, for example, security forces-often armed
with automatic weapons-patrol at or near checkpoints. At Belgium's main
airport, a constant police presence is maintained at one of two
glass-enclosed rooms directly behind the checkpoints.
Second, the screeners' qualifications are usually more extensive. For
example, in contrast to the United States, Belgium requires screeners to be
citizens, while France requires screeners to be citizens of a European Union
country. In the Netherlands, screeners do not have to be citizens, but they
must have been residents of the country for 5 years. Moreover, while FAA
requires that screeners in this country have 12 hours of classroom training,
Belgium, Canada, France, and the Netherlands require more. France requires
60 hours of training, and Belgium requires at least 40 hours with an
additional 16 to 24 hours for each activity, such as X-ray machine
operations, the screener will conduct.
Third, the screeners receive relatively better pay and benefits in most of
these countries. While in the United States screeners receive wages that are
at or slightly above minimum wage, screeners in some countries receive wages
that they view as being "middle income." In the Netherlands, for example,
screeners receive at least the equivalent of about $7.50 per hour. This wage
is about 30 percent higher than wages at fast-food restaurants. In Belgium,
screeners receive about $14 per hour. Screeners in some countries also
receive some benefits, such as health care or vacations, as required under
the laws of these countries.
Finally, the responsibility for screening in most of these countries is
placed with the airport or with the government, not with the air carriers as
it is in the United States. In Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom, the
responsibility for screening has been placed with the airports, which either
hire screening companies to conduct the screening operations or, as at some
airports in the United Kingdom, hire screeners or manage the checkpoints
themselves. In the Netherlands, the government is responsible for passenger
screening and hires a screening company to conduct checkpoint operations,
which are overseen by a Dutch police force.
Because each country follows its own unique set of screening practices, and
because data on screener performance in each country were not available to
us, it is difficult to measure the impact of these different practices,
either individually or jointly, on improving screeners' performance.
Nevertheless, there are indications that in at least one country, the
practices may help to improve the screeners' performance. This country
conducted a testing program jointly with FAA that showed that the other
country's screeners detected over twice as many test objects as did the
screeners in the United States.
We note that practices similar to those in other countries have been
proposed in the United States. The Chicago Department of Aviation, which
operates Chicago-O'Hare International Airport, has advocated moving the
responsibility for screening to airports, hiring screening companies under a
model similar to that used by the General Services Administration to
contract for security services, and having universities conduct more
extensive and independent screener training programs. In response to a
requirement of the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996, FAA did
evaluate options for moving screening responsibilities to airports or the
federal government. The agency said that it found no consensus for moving
these responsibilities to other parties, and consequently the responsibility
for screening remains with the air carriers.
Summary
Many vulnerable areas in the aviation system need strong protection.
Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, the problems we have identified in two of these
areas are not unique. Others such as the Department of Transportation's
Inspector General and the National Research Council have identified other
problems with the security controls in and around airports, the
implementation of security procedures, and the use and effectiveness of new
equipment intended to better assist in identifying threats. Taken together,
these problems point out that effective security for our nation's aviation
system has not yet been achieved. It is often said that a chain is only as
strong as its weakest link; in the case of aviation security, there are
still many weak links. It must be recognized that these weak links are not
the responsibility of FAA alone. The responsibility for certain conditions,
such as the rapid screener turnover, more appropriately rests with the air
carriers and screening companies. It will, therefore, take the cooperation
of the aviation industry to put into place the actions needed to improve
security.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, the fact that there has been no major security
incident in the United States or involving a U.S. airliner in nearly a
decade could breed an attitude of complacency in improving aviation
security. Improving security in such an environment is more challenging and
difficult. Two years ago, in another testimony before the Congress, we
expressed a similar concern in stressing that the momentum of aviation
security improvements must not be lost. Given the extent of the problems, we
must reiterate this concern and believe that continuing congressional
oversight in holding FAA and the aviation industry accountable for improving
the aviation security will be critical to the full achievement of a safe and
secure air transportation system.
- - - - -
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement. I will be pleased to
answer any questions that you or Members of the Subcommittee may have.
Contacts and Acknowledgments
For more information, please contact Gerald L. Dillingham at (202) 512-2834.
Individuals making key contributions to this testimony included Leslie D.
Albin, J. Michael Bollinger, Barry R. Kime, John R. Schulze, and Daniel J.
Semick.
Appendix I
SCREENER TURNOVER RATES AT 19 LARGE AIRPORTS,
MAY 1998-APRIL 1999
                                                 Annual
 City (airport )                                 turnover
                                                 rate
                                                 (percentage)
 Atlanta (Hartsfield Atlanta International)      375
 Baltimore (Baltimore-Washington International)  155
 Boston (Logan International)                    207
 Chicago (Chicago-O'Hare International)          200
 Dallas-Ft. Worth (Dallas/Ft. Worth
 International)                                  156
 Denver (Denver International)                   193
 Detroit (Detroit Metro Wayne County)            79
 Honolulu (Honolulu International)               37
 Houston (Houston Intercontinental)              237
 Los Angeles (Los Angeles International)         88
 Miami (Miami International)                     64
 New York (John F. Kennedy International)        53
 Orlando (Orlando International)                 100
 San Francisco (San Francisco International)     110
 San Juan (Luis Munoz Marin International)       70
 Seattle (Seattle-Tacoma International)          140
 St. Louis (Lambert St. Louis International)     416
 Washington (Washington-Dulles International)    90
 Washington (Ronald Reagan Washington National)  47
 Average turnover                                126
Source: FAA.
(348227)
*** End of document. ***



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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias