Investigators learned that airport operators and local TSA officials did not have an adequate understanding of the badging process. “Officials at the 12 airports visited did not know what happens to the data once they enter the [TSC],” the report explains. “These officials did not realize how data entry errors or transposed numbers related to key identifying elements could create vulnerabilities, be exploited, and provide the wrong individuals access to secured airport areas.”
The data integrity issues occurred, according to the IG, because TSA did not ensure that airports have quality assurance procedures for the badging process, did not ensure airports provide adequate training and tools to badging employees, and did not require its inspectors to verify airport data during TSA inspections. The OIG report also notes that TSA does not require airports to conduct recurring background checks to ensure active badge holders have remained law-abiding citizens.
TSA Spokesman Greg Soule told Security Management that the agency is developing a proposed regulation to require airport operators and badging personnel to meet improved standards for accuracy and completeness of applicant information submitted to TSA, addressing an OIG recommendation.
He also said that TSA runs recurrent checks of active badge holders against terrorism watch lists. “These recurrent checks are designed to reveal the most serious criminal activity related to terrorism by an individual occurring after his or her initial criminal history records check,” Soule said.
In response to the OIG report, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, urged the TSA to implement the report’s recommendations. “By making the vetting process for airport employees more thorough and comprehensive, we can improve security,” he said in a statement.
♦ Photo by Erik Charlton from flickr