Aviation Security:

FAA's Procurement of Explosives Detection Devices

RCED-97-111R: Published: May 1, 1997. Publicly Released: Jun 2, 1997.

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John H. Anderson, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) procurement of explosives detection devices at U.S. airports, focusing on: (1) how FAA is determining which explosives detection devices to purchase and where to deploy them; and (2) the extent to which FAA's purchase and deployment of these devices is adhering to its Acquisition Management System, which governs major capital procurements.

GAO noted that: (1) FAA's Security Equipment Integrated Product Team is purchasing explosives detection devices on the basis of the President's September 12, 1996, budget proposal, which called for funding numerous counterterrorist activities during fiscal year 1997; (2) the President's proposal designated the type and number of devices to be purchased, and FAA's team has followed these designations; (3) the proposal did not designate which airports should receive the devices; (4) as a result, the team has made most preliminary deployment decisions independently by analyzing information on the overall threat to U.S. civil aviation and combining it with data on the technical capabilities of the devices; (5) the team has not prepared certain planning documents required under FAA's April 1996 Acquisition Management System procurement guidelines and has pursued some noncompetitive procurements; (6) however, the procurement guidelines allow exceptions from these requirements when they are determined to be in the agency's best interest; (7) currently, the team is seeking a formal waiver from the requirements and is preparing a written request justifying its approach; (8) this request will document that congressional direction compels the team to purchase and install explosives detection devices under an accelerated timetable, which requires the devotion of all staff resources to the awarding of contracts as rapidly as possible; and (9) the team expects the Associate Administrator for Civil Aviation Security to approve its request for a waiver.

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