THE MAGAZINE

Baggage Screening

A new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO)assesses the effectiveness of explosives detection systems (EDS) and explosives trace detection (ETD) systems installed in airports around the country by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The EDS and ETD machines were in place in most airports by the end of 2003. At the time, airport officials—especially those at small regional airports—expressed concern that the systems were too large to be incorporated into the baggage screening process and were installed as standalone devices in lobbies or other large areas. (See “Flying in the Danger Zone,” June 2002.)

In the new report, the GAO tracks this issue of space and concludes that the interim solutions have resulted in inefficient screening practices and led to hiring of more screeners than necessary. Of the 130 airports studied by the GAO for the report, 86 are planning to integrate the EDS machines into baggage conveyor systems.

However, the funding for such projects is limited and is beyond the reach of many airports.

In the report, the GAO faulted the TSA for failing to conduct an overall analysis of the problem. According to the report, some airports have proven that they could make up the cost in long-term savings and through increased efficiency.

@ To read the GAO report, visit Security Management Online.

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gao05365_baggagescreening0605.pdf3.54 MB

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