Reports & Testimonies

  • GAO’s recommendations database contains report recommendations that still need to be addressed.

    GAO’s recommendations help congressional and agency leaders prepare for appropriations and oversight activities, as well as help improve government operations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented. You can explore open recommendations by searching or browsing.

    GAO's priority recommendations are those that we believe warrant priority attention. We sent letters to the heads of key departments and agencies, urging them to continue focusing on these issues. These recommendations are labeled as such. You can find priority recommendations by searching or browsing our open recommendations below, or through our mobile app.

  • Browse Open Recommendations

    Explore priority recommendations by subject terms or browse by federal agency

    Search Open Recommendations

    Search for a specific priority recommendation by word or phrase



  • Governing on the go?

    Our Priorities for Policy Makers app makes it easier for leaders to search our recommendations on the go.

    See the November 10th Press Release


  • Have a Question about a Recommendation?

    • For questions about a specific recommendation, contact the person or office listed with the recommendation.
    • For general information about recommendations, contact GAO's Audit Policy and Quality Assurance office at (202) 512-6100 or apqa@gao.gov.
  • « Back to Results List Sort by   

    Results:

    Subject Term: "Aviation security"

    7 publications with a total of 21 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    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: Andrew Von Ah
    Phone: (213) 830-1011

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to document the processes and analyses for assessing and, as appropriate, for managing the difference between program costs and collections and document resulting decisions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS's Fee Governance Council, led by the Deputy CFO plans to draft and publish a revised section of the Financial Management Policy Manual devoted to documenting the processes and analyses for assessing and managing the difference between program costs and collections and document resulting decisions. The Council is currently working to establish interim milestones associated with this objective.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to establish processes for managing unobligated carryover balances, to include targets for minimum and maximum balances for programs that lack such processes and targets.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Fee Governance Council will draft and publish a revised section of the Financial Management Policy Manual devoted to managing unobligated carryover balances. The Council is currently working to develop specific milestones associated with this objective.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to conduct reviews to identify any management and operational deficiencies.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The DHS Fee Governance Council plans to publish a revised section of the Financial Management Policy Manual devoted to how components conduct studies of fee programs to identify any management or operational deficiencies. The Council is currently working to establish specific milestones associated with this objective.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to take action to track and report on management and operational deficiencies--including reasons supporting any decisions to not pursue recommended actions--identified in fee reviews or through other means.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The DHS Fee Governance Council will publish a revised section of the Financial Management Policy Manual devoted to how regular biennial reviews are conducted at DHS and how any findings and recommendations on management and operational deficiencies identified in these fee studies are tracked and reported.
    Director: Jennifer Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure TSA's actions in overseeing and facilitating airport security are based on the most recent available risk information that assesses vulnerabilities system-wide and evaluates security events, and that these actions are orchestrated according to a strategic plan that reflects the agency's goals and objectives and its progress in meeting those goals, the Administrator of TSA should update the Risk Assessment of Airport Security to reflect changes to its risk environment, such as those updates reflected in Transportation Sector Security Risk Assessment (TSSRA) and JVA findings, and share results of this risk assessment with stakeholders on an ongoing basis.

    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 help ensure TSA's actions in overseeing and facilitating airport security are based on the most recent available risk information that assesses vulnerabilities system-wide and evaluates security events, and that these actions are orchestrated according to a strategic plan that reflects the agency's goals and objectives and its progress in meeting those goals, the Administrator of TSA should establish and implement a process for determining when additional risk assessment updates are needed.

    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 help ensure TSA's actions in overseeing and facilitating airport security are based on the most recent available risk information that assesses vulnerabilities system-wide and evaluates security events, and that these actions are orchestrated according to a strategic plan that reflects the agency's goals and objectives and its progress in meeting those goals, the Administrator of TSA should develop and implement a method for conducting a system-wide assessment of airport vulnerability that will provide a more comprehensive understanding of airport perimeter and access control security vulnerabilities.

    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 help ensure TSA's actions in overseeing and facilitating airport security are based on the most recent available risk information that assesses vulnerabilities system-wide and evaluates security events, and that these actions are orchestrated according to a strategic plan that reflects the agency's goals and objectives and its progress in meeting those goals, the Administrator of TSA should use security event data for specific analysis of system-wide trends related to perimeter and access control security to better inform risk management decisions.

    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 help ensure TSA's actions in overseeing and facilitating airport security are based on the most recent available risk information that assesses vulnerabilities system-wide and evaluates security events, and that these actions are orchestrated according to a strategic plan that reflects the agency's goals and objectives and its progress in meeting those goals, the Administrator of TSA should update the 2012 Strategy for airport security to reflect changes in risk assessments, agency operations, and the status of goals and objectives. Specifically, this update should reflect: (1) information from the Risk Assessment of Airport Security, as well as information contained in the most recent TSSRA and JVAs; (2) new airport security-related activities; (3) the status of TSA efforts to address goals and objectives; and (4) finalized outcome-based performance measures and performance levels--or targets--for each relevant activity and strategic goal.

    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 help ensure TSA's actions in overseeing and facilitating airport security are based on the most recent available risk information that assesses vulnerabilities system-wide and evaluates security events, and that these actions are orchestrated according to a strategic plan that reflects the agency's goals and objectives and its progress in meeting those goals, the Administrator of TSA should establish and implement a process for determining when additional updates to the Strategy are needed.

    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.
    Director: Grover, Jennifer A
    Phone: (202)512-7141

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that TSA's planned testing yields reliable results, the TSA Administrator should take steps to ensure that TSA's planned effectiveness testing of the Managed Inclusion process adheres to established evaluation design practices.

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

    Comments: TSA continues to make progress on implementing this recommendation. In March 2017, TSA reported that an evaluation of the security effectiveness of the managed inclusion process is to be completed over the next few weeks. Once documentation for the evaluation is available, TSA will provide it for review and analysis.
    Director: Grover, Jennifer A
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that security-related funding is directed to programs that have demonstrated their effectiveness, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the TSA Administrator to limit future funding support for the agency's behavior detection activities until TSA can provide scientifically validated evidence that demonstrates that behavioral indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not concur with GAO's November 2013 recommendation to the TSA Administrator to limit future funding support for the agency's behavior detection activities until TSA can provide scientifically validated evidence that demonstrates that behavioral indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security. However, as of July 2017, DHS has reduced funding for its behavior detection activities and taken some steps toward identifying additional evidence to support its use of behavioral indicators. TSA officials stated that GAO's recommendation contributed to DHS's decision to reduce the number of behavior detection officers (BDO) from 3,131 full-time equivalents in fiscal year 2013 to 2,393 full-time equivalents employed in fiscal year 2016. Further, in the summer of 2016 and consistent with the Aviation Security Act of 2016, the agency began assigning BDOs to other positions at passenger screening checkpoints where they are able to observe passengers while performing screening duties. According to TSA officials, all BDOs have now been converted into transportation security officers with behavior detection capabilities, which is expected to reduce the cost of the agency's behavior detection activities. As of August 2017, TSA does not yet have an estimate of any associated cost reductions. Since GAO's 2013 report, TSA has revised its list of behavioral indicators and taken some steps to identify evidence that these indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security. Specifically, TSA hired a contractor to search available literature for sources supporting its revised list of 36 behavioral indicators. However, in 2017, GAO reviewed all 178 sources TSA identified and found that 98 percent (175 of 178) did not provide valid evidence for specific behavioral indicators in its revised list and that the remaining 3 sources could be used as valid evidence to support 8 of the 36 indicators. GAO reported that TSA should continue to limit funding for the agency's behavior detection activities until TSA can provide valid evidence demonstrating that behavioral indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security, consistent with the recommendation in its November 2013 report.