Aviation Security:

Progress Being Made, but Long-term Attention Is Needed

T-RCED-98-190: Published: May 14, 1998. Publicly Released: May 14, 1998.

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John H. Anderson, Jr
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GAO discussed its recent review of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) implementation of five key initiatives: automated passenger profiling, explosives detection technologies, passenger-bag match, vulnerability assessments, and certification of screening companies and improvement of screeners' performance.

GAO noted that: (1) FAA has made some progress in five critical areas as recommended by the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security and mandated by Congress; (2) given the current implementation schedule, it will take years for FAA and the aviation industry to fully implement the initiatives; (3) to date, FAA has encountered delays of up to 12 months in implementing these initiatives, in part because they are more complex than originally envisioned and involve new and relatively untested technologies; (4) delays have also been caused by limited funding and problems with equipment installation and contractors' performance; (5) while progress is being made in strengthening aviation security, the completion of the current initiatives will require additional financial resources and a sustained commitment by the federal government and the aviation industry; (6) because momentum and public attention began to subside after the downing of Pan Am Flight 103, sufficient progress did not occur; and (7) to avoid a similar situation, congressional oversight and commitment are important.

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