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U.S. air carriers transport billions of tons of cargo each year in both passenger planes and all-cargo planes. Typically, about one-half of the hull of each passenger aircraft is filled with cargo. As a result, any vulnerabilities in the air cargo security system potentially threaten the entire air transport system. GAO agreed to determine the security vulnerabilities that have been identified in the air cargo system, the status of key recommendations that have been made since 1990 to improve air cargo security, and ways in which air cargo security can be improved in the near-and long-term.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Directorate of Border and Transportation Security 1. The Under Secretary of Transportation for Security should develop a comprehensive plan for air cargo security that includes priority actions identified on the basis of risk, costs of these actions, deadlines for completing those actions, and performance targets.
Closed - Implemented
TSA concurs with GAO's recommendation and is now developing a comprehensive strategic plan to address air cargo security. This plan will identify priority actions based on risk, cost, deadlines, and performance targets. TSA plans to outreach to critical stakeholders through the Aviation Security Advisory Committee to assist the agency in identifying and addressing critical air cargo issues. TSA expects to issue mandatory cargo security program requirements by October 2003.

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