Issues Area

»Home   »Issues Area   print page email page

Thompson and Committee Democrats Task GAO to Investigate Airport Security and the TSA

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Today, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, and 14 of his Democratic Homeland Security colleagues, requested an investigation into the current security climate at commercial airports around the United States and what steps the Transportation Security Administration has taken to eliminate security vulnerabilities and concerns earlier identified by the Government Accountability Office.


May 24, 2006

The Honorable David Walker
Comptroller General
U.S. Government Accountability Office
441 G Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20548

Dear Mr. Walker:

As you know, securing the nation's commercial airports is a joint responsibility shared by the federal government, airport operators, and the many private companies that conduct business at the airport, including air carriers. In the area of airport perimeter and access control security, airport operators play a significant role by implementing federal security requirements aimed at ensuring the physical security of airport grounds. Air carriers also play a key role by ensuring that their employees receive required background checks and security training before being granted access to secure airport areas. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for establishing airport perimeter and access control security requirements, and conducting audits to ensure that airport operators and airlines are complying with these requirements.

In April 2004, you issued a report examining the security of commercial airport perimeters and access controls. In that report, you identified security weaknesses related to airport perimeters and access controls and made recommendations for improving this important area of aviation security. In response to your findings and recommendations, TSA issued security directives for enhancing background checks and screening airport workers. TSA also reported taking additional action to assess and deploy available airport security technologies, including biometric access control systems.

The committee is interested in the progress that TSA has made in strengthening the security of commercial airport perimeters and access controls since your report was issued in April 2004. I am therefore requesting that GAO address the following questions.

What actions has TSA taken, or plan to take, to strengthen the security of airport perimeters and access to restricted airport areas-including steps TSA is taking to prevent the unauthorized use of airport credentials and have these actions been responsive to prior GAO recommendations?

How has TSA assessed the effectiveness of actions taken to strengthen airport perimeter and access control security? What have been the results of these assessments? How has TSA determined whether actions taken have improved security to an acceptable level?

What have been the current and expected costs associated with implementing these security measures, and who bears these costs?

Thank you for your attention to this request. If you have any questions, please contact Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, Democratic Staff Director of the Committee on Homeland Security at 202.226.2616.


Bennie G. Thompson
Ranking Member
Committee on Homeland Security

Loretta Sanchez
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Cybersecurity

Zoe Lofgren
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment

Bill Pascrell
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Science and Technology

Bob Etheridge
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Investigations

James R. Langevin
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attack

Kendrick B. Meek
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Management, Integration, and Oversight

Ed Markey
Member of Congress

Norman D. Dicks
Member of Congress

Jane Harman
Member of Congress

Peter DeFazio
Member of Congress

Nita Lowey
Member of Congress

Sheila Jackson-Lee
Member of Congress

Donna M. Christian-Christensen
Member of Congress

Eleanor Holmes Norton
Member of Congress

# # #

For More Information:
Please contact Dena Graziano or Todd Levett at (202) 226-2616

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS)

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson

Sign up to receive the latest news from the Democrats of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee.