Aviation Security:

Corrective Actions Underway, but Better Inspection Guidance Still Needed

RCED-88-160: Published: Aug 23, 1988. Publicly Released: Sep 21, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Civil Aviation Security Program to determine the effectiveness of FAA inspection efforts to identify and rectify domestic security deficiencies.

GAO reviewed inspection programs at six large airports and found that: (1) FAA lacked adequate controls over personnel identification systems and air operations access points; (2) inspectors did not verify personnel and vehicle identification systems, but relied on airport or air carrier officials' descriptions and judgments; and (3) passenger-screening processes needed improvement to ensure their effectiveness in preventing passengers from carrying weapons on board airplanes. GAO also found that FAA: (1) has addressed several systemic security problems at major airports; (2) required airport operators to install computer-controlled identification systems for access to restricted areas; and (3) increased the penalties on carriers for screening system failures.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA issued an order in fiscal year 1988.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to develop appropriate testing and verification procedures to determine the adequacy of key security features, such as lock-and-key controls and personnel and vehicle identification systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Testing and verification procedures were issued. Inspector training has been initiated.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to issue clear instructions to inspectors on the use of these procedures during the inspection process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Guidance was developed and incorporated in vehicle identification systems and formal training was initiated.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to incorporate these procedures and associated instructions into the inspectors' formal training curriculum to ensure that they are adequately trained in the inspection process to be followed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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