House to push tech reform at TSA

The House will pass a bill this week requiring the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to get its technological act together.

Members will consider H.R. 2719, the Transportation Acquisition Security Reform Act. This bipartisan bill was written in response to assessments from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General saying that TSA does not have a comprehensive technology acquisition plan, which is leading to waste.

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"Both GAO and DHS IG have reported that TSA is not effectively implementing Government best practices and DHS policy for acquiring new security capabilities," the House Homeland Security Committee found. "This has resulted in acquisitions that have failed to meet security performance objectives and/or wasted Federal funds."

The bill requires TSA to develop a a multi-year technology investment plan, and requires TSA to tell Congress about its technology acquisitions, including overruns and failures.

The TSA plan must assess security risks, and describe how its tech acquisition plan would meet these risks. It must also "leverage emerging technology trends" and incorporate feedback from private sector.

"[T]the private sector has criticized TSA for failing to accurately communicate technology needs and long-term investment plans, making it difficult for industry to plan ahead and invest in the next generation of security-related technologies," the committee found.

Finally, the bill requires TSA to refocus on doing business with small companies, and to report to Congress each year on how it's fulfilling this goal.

The bill is one of two TSA-related measures up this week. By Tuesday, the House could pass legislation requiring TSA to use all of the unclaimed money left at airport security checks to fund airport lounges for members of the military and their families.