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    Subject Term: "Passenger screening systems"

    1 publication with a total of 1 open recommendation including 1 priority recommendation
    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.