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    Subject Term: "Air marshals"

    3 publications with a total of 9 open recommendations
    Director: Jennifer Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Administrator of TSA should explore and pursue methods to assess the deterrent effect of TSA's passenger aviation security countermeasures; such an effort should identify FAMS—a countermeasure with a focus on deterring threats—as a top priority to address. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. When we confirm what actions TSA has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of TSA should systematically evaluate the potential cost and effectiveness tradeoffs across countermeasures, as TSA improves the reliability and extent of its information on the effectiveness of aviation security countermeasures. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and in its September 2017 response to our report, DHS stated that TSA will continue efforts to improve both its analysis of information related to security effectiveness and its cost information, leading to better informed cost-benefit decisions for individual countermeasures. To address the intent of our recommendation, TSA will need to evaluate the costs and effectiveness of individual aviation security countermeasures and then use this information to systematically evaluate the potential cost and effectiveness tradeoffs across countermeasures. When we confirm what actions TSA has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Jenny Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure effective evaluation of air marshal training, the TSA Administrator should direct OTD to implement a mechanism for regularly collecting and incorporating incumbent air marshals' feedback on the training they receive from field office programs.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective evaluation of air marshal training, the TSA Administrator should direct OTD to take additional steps to improve the response rates of the training surveys it conducts.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide reasonable assurance that air marshals are complying with recurrent training requirements and have the capability to carry out FAMS's mission, the TSA Administrator should direct FAMS to specify in policy who at the headquarters level has oversight responsibility for ensuring that field office Supervisory Air Marshals-in-Charge or their designees meet their responsibilities for ensuring that training completion records are entered in a timely manner.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide reasonable assurance that air marshals are complying with recurrent training requirements and have the capability to carry out FAMS's mission, the TSA Administrator should direct FAMS to specify in policy who at the headquarters level is responsible for ensuring that headquarters personnel enter approved air marshals' training exemptions into the Federal Air Marshal Information System, and define the timeframe for doing so.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide reasonable assurance that air marshals are complying with recurrent training requirements and have the capability to carry out FAMS's mission, the TSA Administrator should direct FAMS to develop and implement standardized methods, such as examinations and checklists, for determining whether incumbent air marshals continue to be mission ready in key skills.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Jennifer Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that FAMS uses its resources to cover the highest-risk flights, in addition to considering risk when determining how to divide FAMS's international flight coverage resources among international destinations, the Director of FAMS should incorporate risk into FAMS's method for initially setting its annual target numbers of average daily international and domestic flights to cover.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration: Office of Law Enforcement - Federal Air Marshal Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, we found that FAMS officials considered risk when selecting specific domestic and international flights to cover, but they did not consider risk when deciding how to initially divide their annual resources between domestic and international flights. Rather, each year FAMS considered two variables--travel budget and number of air marshals--to identify the most efficient way to divide the agency's resources between domestic and international flights. As a result, we recommended that FAMS incorporate risk into FAMS's method for initially setting its annual target numbers of average daily international and domestic flights to cover. In March 2017, TSA officials reported that FAMS was continuing to identify ways to refine the methodology FAMS uses to allocate resources between international and domestic flights. Specifically, TSA officials noted that FAMS was considering ways to incorporate information on the travel patterns of known or suspected terrorists, trends in TSA PreCheck passenger data, airport screening capabilities, and other factors. FAMS officials also reported that, as part of this effort, they were reviewing their International Concept of Operations. It is unclear how these steps will address the recommendation. To fully address this recommendation, FAMS should incorporate risk into its method for initially setting its annual target numbers of average daily international and domestic flights to cover.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that FAMS uses its resources to cover the highest-risk flights, the Director of FAMS should conduct and document a risk assessment--systematically collecting information on and assigning value to current risks--to further support FAMS's domestic resource allocation decisions, including the identification of high-priority geographic areas.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration: Office of Law Enforcement - Federal Air Marshal Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, we reported that FAMS's choice of domestic geographic focus areas and resource allocation levels were based on professional judgment, not risk assessment. With regard to the geographic focus areas, for example, FAMS officials explained that they did not conduct a risk assessment to inform this decision, but rather selected these areas in consultation with 30 subject matter experts from various offices within TSA based on their intuitive, qualitative perceptions of threats, vulnerabilities, potential impacts, history, and the demographics of the areas. Without fully incorporating risk when determining such priorities, FAMS cannot reasonably ensure it is targeting its resources to the highest-risk flights. As a result, we recommended that FAMS conduct and document a risk assessment--systematically collecting information on and assigning value to current risks--to further support FAMS's domestic resource allocation decisions, including the identification of high-priority geographic areas. In March 2017, TSA officials explained that they were continuing to develop their "risk-by-flight" initiative--a long-term effort to develop a method of assigning each domestic flight a relative risk score to assist in identifying high-risk flights. At the time of our report in 2016, FAMS officials estimated that the risk-by-flight tool would probably be ready for use within 7 to 10 years. In March 2017, TSA officials stated that they had developed a prototype Risk-Based Resource Deployment Decision Aid, which they refer to as R2D2. TSA officials further reported that the DHS Science and Technology Directorate had contracted for the development of a risk engine--based on the R2D2 data--to assign risk values to all U.S.-carrier domestic and international flights. TSA officials reported that this contract runs through early 2018. To fully address this recommendation, FAMS should conduct and document a risk assessment to further support FAMS's domestic resource allocation decisions, including the identification of high-priority geographic areas.