Transportation Security Research:

Coordination Needed in Selecting and Implementing Infrastructure Vulnerability Assessments

GAO-03-502: Published: May 1, 2003. Publicly Released: May 1, 2003.

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The events of September 11, 2001, increased attention on efforts to assess the vulnerabilities of the nation's transportation infrastructure and develop needed improvements in security. The Department of Transportation's (DOT) Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) had already begun research in this area in June 2001. The goals of RSPA's Transportation Infrastructure Assurance program are to identify, and develop ways to mitigate the impact of, threats to the nation's transportation infrastructure. DOT's Office of Intelligence and Security is responsible for defining the requirements for transportation infrastructure protection, ensuring that vulnerability assessments of transportation infrastructure are conducted, and taking action to mitigate those vulnerabilities. The House Committee on Appropriations asked GAO to determine (1) the status and anticipated results of the Transportation Infrastructure Assurance (TIA) program, and (2) the extent to which RSPA and the Office of Intelligence and Security have coordinated their activities in selecting the vulnerabilities to be assessed and implementing the vulnerability assessments for the program. DOT and RSPA officials reviewed a draft of the report, agreed with its contents, and provided technical clarifications that we incorporated.

The Transportation Infrastructure Assessment program is scheduled to end in December 2003 after the completion of four transportation vulnerability assessments. Congress appropriated $1 million in each of the fiscal years from 2001 through 2003 to RSPA for the program. RSPA plans to disseminate reports, conduct workshops, and post information on the Internet to inform decision-makers in the transportation community about the results. Prior to March 2003, RSPA did not fully coordinate their activities with the Office of Intelligence and Security in selecting the vulnerabilities to be assessed, or in implementing the assessments for the program. We discussed this problem with officials from both offices who agreed that closer coordination would be beneficial, particularly to discuss options for addressing the challenges facing program researchers in conducting the program's vulnerability assessments. In March 2003, officials from both offices began regular meetings to facilitate this coordination.

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