The Transportation Security Administration has vulnerabilities that continue to put airline travelers at risk, despite being notified of its shortcomings through more than 100 federal audit and inspection reports, a government watchdog said Wednesday.
John Roth, Department of Homeland Security Inspector General, told lawmakers that he is “deeply concerned” about TSA’s ability to safely transport and protect the hundreds of thousands of airline passengers who rely on commercial aircraft to travel across the nation.
“We have conducted a series of covert penetration tests — essentially testing TSA’s ability to stop us from bringing simulated explosives and weapons through checkpoints, as well as testing whether we could enter secured areas through other means,” Mr. Roth said in his testimony to members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “Although the results of those tests are classified, we identified vulnerabilities caused by human and technology-based failures.”
Watchdog investigators have been keeping track of the significant challenges that the TSA faces, including maintaining its screening equipment and abiding by designated protocols. Despite TSA’s willingness to spend billions on aviation security technology, some agency operations show little to no improvement, Mr. Roth said.
Equally concerning is how the TSA trains and maintains a workforce that does not always comply with agency protocol designed to deflect potential dangers to airline passengers, thereby exposing them and the airports they frequent to “significant vulnerabilities,” Mr. Roth said.
“TSA cannot afford to miss a single, genuine threat without potentially catastrophic consequences, yet a terrorist only needs to get it right once,” he said.