TSA expected to miss screening deadline
WASHINGTON—With less than a month to go, the Government Accountability Office in June issued a report stating that the Transportation Security Administration is not expected to be able to meet the 9/11 Commission Act’s August 2010 mandate for 100 percent screening of domestic air cargo aboard passenger aircraft.
While the report found that the TSA has made considerable progress in reaching this goal, it faces challenges in fully developing and implementing the program. One of the reasons is that shipper participation in the Certified Cargo Screening Program has been lower than originally estimated. The CCSP was designed to allow cargo to be screened along the supply chain in order to relieve TSA of some of the screening burden. One of the reasons for low participation, that report says, is the fact TSA’s lacks of inspection resources—the funds, personnel and program to oversee CCSP entities. The TSA and industry officials reported that several factors, such as lack of economic and regulatory incentives, are also contributing to low shipper participation levels.
Also, the TSA lacks the approved technology necessary to screen pallets and containers. While the TSA is working to complete qualification testing of several air cargo screening technologies, it has not yet met that goal.
One of the GAO’s recommendations is that the TSA develop a contingency plan with alternatives to addressing these screening challenges. “Alternatives could include, but are not limited to, mandating CCSP participation for certain members of the air cargo supply chain—instead of relying on their voluntary participation—and requiring the screening of some or all cargo before it is loaded onto ULD pallets and containers,” read the report.