Key Issues > Duplication & Cost Savings > GAO's Action Tracker > Sharing Security-Related Information with Public Transit Agencies (2011-25)
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Homeland Security/Law Enforcement: Sharing Security-Related Information with Public Transit Agencies (2011-25)

The Department of Homeland Security could streamline mechanisms for sharing security-related information with public transit agencies to help address overlapping information.

Action:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) could identify and implement ways to more efficiently share security-related information by assessing the various mechanisms available to public transit agencies—including DHS's information network, TSA's portal on the network, and the public transit analysis center—as well as the information they provide, and identify opportunities to streamline these mechanisms.

Progress:

TSA has taken steps to streamline information-sharing mechanisms and more efficiently share security-related information with public transit agencies, as GAO suggested in March 2011, and recent information from TSA and public transit agencies indicates that public transit agencies were satisfied with TSA’s security-related information-sharing mechanisms.  Specifically,

  • In February 2011, TSA and key industry groups launched the Transit and Rail Intelligence Awareness Daily (TRIAD) report. The intent of TRIAD is to streamline the analysis, sharing, and exchange of intelligence and security information that had been disseminated by multiple sources. Among other things, TRIAD includes a daily publication to enhance situational awareness and an alert message notifying users of a developing threat or incident.
  • In November 2013, TSA issued an Information Sharing and Analysis Centers Cost Analysis report that examined the costs of operating and maintaining separate public transportation and highway analysis centers and identified financial efficiencies that may be achieved through consolidation.

In June 2014, GAO reported that public transit agencies were generally satisfied with information- sharing mechanisms. To assess stakeholders’ satisfaction with TSA’s security-related products and the mechanisms used to disseminate them, GAO surveyed 481 transportation stakeholders, including 46 U.S. public transit agencies, between November 2013 and January 2014. GAO reported that 29 of the 36 public transit agencies responding to the survey (81 percent) were satisfied with TSA’s information-sharing mechanisms. Further, 30 of the 36 public transit agencies that responded to this survey (83 percent) did not indicate any concerns with TSA’s information-sharing efforts or information-sharing mechanisms in open-ended responses. The public transit agencies that provided recommendations for improving information sharing did not note any need to further streamline information sharing. In December 2014, TSA officials told GAO that public transit agencies have not expressed concern with receiving duplicative information and, as a result, TSA does not have any plans to further streamline information sharing.Based on GAO’s survey results, TSA’s efforts to more efficiently disseminate security-related information have generally met the needs of public transit agencies.

Implementing Entity:

Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration

Action:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could develop and track verifiable cost data specific to each of its information-sharing mechanisms, as part of the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) streamlining and financial management efforts. Developing such baseline cost data could assist TSA in identifying potential cost savings resulting from the consolidation of these mechanisms and provide opportunities for the agency to better allocate its information-sharing resources.

Progress:

GAO is no longer assessing this action. In March 2011, GAO suggested that DHS could develop and track cost data related to each of TSA’s information-sharing mechanisms to identify possible cost savings resulting from the consolidation of these mechanisms. Since that time, TSA has taken steps to streamline information sharing with public transit agencies. Recent information from TSA and public transit agencies, as well as a survey GAO conducted for its June 2014 report, indicates that public transit agencies are satisfied with TSA’s security-related mechanisms. As a result, TSA does not have any plans to further streamline information sharing at this time. Because TSA has completed its streamlining efforts, cost data specific to information-sharing mechanisms are no longer needed in order to help TSA in making decisions regarding streamlining or consolidation.

Since March 2011, DHS has taken steps to identify the costs associated with some, but not all, of its mechanisms for sharing information with public transit agencies. For example, in November 2013, TSA issued an Information Sharing and Analysis Centers Cost Analysis report that examined the costs of operating and maintaining separate public transportation and highway analysis centers and identified financial efficiencies that may be achieved through consolidation. In particular, this report identified costs associated with maintaining the highway analysis center and the public transit analysis center, as well as savings resulting from their consolidation. In March 2014, TSA reported that with consolidation of the public transportation and highway analysis centers, TSA implemented a productive tool to “push” periodic security update reports to these stakeholder communities. Although DHS has not identified costs associated with all of mechanisms for sharing information with public transit agencies, identifying cost data for the remaining mechanisms would not serve the purpose of helping TSA to streamline information-sharing mechanisms because that effort has been completed. As a result, GAO will no longer assess this action.

Implementing Entity:

Department of Homeland Security
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    • Jenny Grover
    • Director, Homeland Security and Justice
    • groverj@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-7141