DHS lacks funding to install new screening technology at every airport

DHS lacks funding to install new screening technology at every airport
© Greg Nash

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not have enough money to install enhanced screening technologies at every airport in the United States, the agency told Congress on Thursday.

“We have some funding for the CT technology. We do not have the funding to deploy it at every airport,” acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke said during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing. “To buy it for every airport would require much more than a reprogramming” of funds from Congress.

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The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and other industry partners have begun testing scanners at some airports in the U.S. that use computed tomography (CT) technology, which is the same technology used in hospitals.

It is able to produce three-dimensional images that make it much easier to decipher and isolate the contents of a bag when they go through airport security checkpoints.

Airport scanners that use X-ray technology only produce a two-dimensional image of a bag. But those images are harder and take longer for screening officers to decipher, especially as carry-on bags have become more cluttered as passengers try to avoid fees for checked luggage.

That’s why the TSA started requiring passengers to put large electronics and other items into separate bins for screening.

CT technology, however, could alleviate that problem, making the screening process far quicker and more effective. The administration also raised global aviation security standards this summer in order to keep up with evolving terrorism threats, including new intelligence that shows terrorists are exploring innovative ways to smuggle bombs onto planes.

But the CT technology is expensive, and the TSA, an unpopular government agency, has often been targeted for budget cuts over the years. One CT scanner made by Analogic costs $300,000, which is double the price of a standard X-ray scanner, according to Business Insider.