The Transportation Security Administration is in hot water after it was revealed that agents failed 95 percent of tests where undercover investigators smuggled weapons through airport security screening zones.
Of the 70 tests performed by Department of Homeland Security Red Teams at more than a dozen airports across the country, TSA agents failed 67 times, ABC News reported.
A report from the Inspector General of DHS was sent to the agency’s secretary, Jeh Johnson, who said in a statement Monday he would direct the TSA to take actions to improve security measures at the nation’s airports.
“Red Team testing of the aviation security network has been part of TSA’s mission advancement for 13 years,” Johnson said. “The numbers in these reports never look good out of context, but they are a critical element in the continual evolution of our aviation security. We take these findings very seriously in our continued effort to test, measure and enhance our capabilities and techniques as threats evolve.”
The first step would be for TSA leadership to correct the security procedures at the airports that failed inspection, followed by sharing the results with all other airports in the country, Johnson said. Airport security personnel will also receive training to address any vulnerabilities and screening equipment will be retested and reevaluated. Random covert testing will continue.
“I have also directed TSA and the Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Science and Technology to examine adopting new technologies to address the vulnerabilities identified by the Inspector General’s testing,” Johnson said.
The Inspector General’s Office released a report on May 6 scrutinizing the TSA’s maintenance of its airport screening equipment.
The TSA screens some 1.8 million airline passengers, 1.2 million checked bags at about 450 domestic airports on a daily basis, according to the report. The agency has four contracts that deal with preventative and corrective maintenance of about 9,000 pieces of screening equipment for a total of $1.2 billion.
In 2013, a Red Team agent had fake explosives strapped to his back and skirted airport security after setting off a metal detector and then being cleared by a pat-down, ABC News reported.