Dems release government report on TSA vulnerabilities

Democrats released a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlighting what it said are vulnerabilities within the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security systems.

Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsOn The Money: Judge upholds House subpoena for Trump financial records | Trump vows to appeal ruling by 'Obama-appointed judge' | Canada, Mexico lift retaliatory tariffs on US | IRS audit rate falls House Oversight Committee requests information on reported Trump plan to send TSA employees to border Judge upholds House panel subpoena for Trump financial records MORE (D-Md.) and Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDuckworth tweets photo of female senators showing up first for committee quorum: 'Women getting it done!' Overnight Energy: States fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules | Greens seek hearing over proposed rule on energy efficiency tests | Top Dem asks GAO to investigate climate threat Top Democrat calls for GAO to investigate climate threat MORE (D-Ill.) Thursday published the report that examined the effectiveness of covert testing done by the TSA to identify aviation security vulnerabilities.

The report slammed the agency as having taken inadequate action to deal with potential safety risks in its system.

“This report is a red blinking warning light—TSA must act to address known security vulnerabilities and finally implement recommendations that have languished for years,” Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said in a statement. “Today, I am calling on the TSA Administrator to come before Congress as soon as possible to explain how the agency plans to resolve these vulnerabilities.” 

“Every day, millions of Americans rely on TSA to travel safely across the country. The failures this report reveals about the TSA’s covert testing program are alarming. Identifying vulnerabilities is only a first step. TSA must prioritize quickly implementing necessary mitigation measures and develop a long-term system that will ensure continuous improvement,” Duckworth added. 

The report found that of covert tests run by the Inspection and Special Operations departments of the TSA, only Inspection had established new processes to deal with security vulnerabilities. Of the nine susceptibilities revealed by the test, the report said “none had been formally resolved” as of September 2018.

The GAO also slammed the TSA for its handling of security risks, saying that it is “not using a risk-informed approach” and “has limited assurance that Security Operations is targeting the most likely threats.” It also said the agency at times took as many as seven months to assign an officer to deal with a vulnerability once it was identified.

The report added several recommendations for the TSA to undertake, including establishing “timeframes and milestones” for its testing and developing “processes for conducting and reporting to relevant stakeholders a comprehensive analysis of covert test results.”

The GAO first delivered a classified version of its report to Congress in December, after which Cummings and Duckworth called on the TSA to address its vulnerabilities and conduct a declassification review for publication.