All The TSA Needs, He Said, Is More Money For More Screening
It's not the people. It's the equipment.
That's the word from Adm. David Stone (USN, Ret.), lame-duck
leader of the TSA, in the keynote address at a conference of the
American Association of Airport Executives. But more equipment may
not be enough. Two recent government reports found screeners lack
necessary training and have failed to improve in spotting dangerous
"TSA lacks adequate internal controls to provide reasonable
assurance that screeners receive legislatively mandated basic and
remedial training, and to monitor its recurrent training program,"
reported the General Accountability Office in its finding, issued
Monday. "Specifically, TSA policy does not clearly specify the
responsibility for ensuring that screeners have completed all
required training. In addition, TSA officials have no formal
policies or methods for monitoring the completion of required
training and were unable to provide documentation identifying the
completion of remedial training." The report was quoted by
That finding came just two weeks after the Department of
Homeland Security Inspector General's office issued its report
saying the TSA simply isn't making progress in improving screener
shortcomings already pointed out in previous audits.
"[D]espite the fact that the majority of screeners with whom our
testers came in contact with were diligent in the performance of
their duties and conscious of the responsibility those duties
carry, the lack of improvement since our last audit indicates that
significant improvement in performance may not be possible without
greater use of new technology," the report said.
"It really is unfortunate that
people take the results and blame the screeners," he said during a
recent visit to DFW International Airport in Grapevine, TX.
The TSA, in response to the IG's report, also renewed its appeal
for better funding to buy next-generation technology.
"We agree with the IG's conclusion that significant improvements
in performance will only be possible with the introduction of new
technology," the agency said in its reply. "That said, we will
continue to seek incremental gains in screener performance through
training, testing and management practices."
But the number of skeptics at think tanks and on Capitol Hill
seems to be increasing.
"We have spent millions of dollars--arguably billions of
dollars--since 9/11 to make aviation security as a whole much
safer. And we have relatively little to show for it, as far as the
performance of screeners is concerned," said Clark Kent Ervin, a
former Inspector General for the DHS, in an interview with
House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) disagreed
that throwing more money at the TSA would improve screening
efficiency. All that's produced so far, he said, is "an army of
screeners... a Soviet-style, centralized bureaucracy that has
resulted in great inefficiencies and inflexibility with little
improvement in screener effectiveness. This money could have been
much better spent on better... technology."