Aviation Security:

FAA Can Help Ensure That Airports' Access Control Systems Are Cost-Effective

RCED-95-25: Published: Mar 1, 1995. Publicly Released: Mar 14, 1995.

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John H. Anderson, Jr
(202) 512-8024


Office of Public Affairs
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) access control systems, focusing on the: (1) cost of FAA access control systems; and (2) actions FAA could take to ensure that access control systems are cost-effective in the future.

GAO found that: (1) FAA greatly underestimated the costs of its access control systems, due to the installation of more expensive equipment; (2) in many airports, FAA approved the installation of equipment in areas that did not need to be secured; (3) 21 major airports had to replace or significantly modify access control systems that did not meet FAA requirements; (4) FAA officials have been unable to ensure that Airport Improvement Program funds have been used only for those system components necessary to meet FAA access control requirements; and (5) FAA could help ensure that access control systems are cost-effective by providing detailed guidance on how systems should function to meet access control requirements.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA, in conjunction with aviation industry representatives, developed guidelines and standards for acquiring and upgrading airport access control systems through a special federal advisory committee. These guidelines and standards were published on March 13, 1996, and address the purpose and scope of access controls, operational goals, detailed system performance requirements, and procedures to verify how a system performs.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to develop and implement detailed guidance based on FAA access control requirements that explains where system equipment should be located.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA issued a policy directive explaining how the airport access control guidelines and standards are to be incorporated into the agency's review process for awarding Airport Improvement Program funds.

    Recommendation: FAA should incorporate these guidelines and the standards being developed into its review process for Airport Improvement Program funding requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation: Federal Aviation Administration


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