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Highlights

By deploying armed air marshals onboard selected flights, the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS), a component of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), plays a key role in helping to protect approximately 29,000 domestic and international flights operated daily by U.S. air carriers. This testimony discusses (1) FAMS's operational approach or "concept of operations" for covering flights, (2) an independent evaluation of the operational approach, and (3) FAMS's processes and initiatives for addressing workforce-related issues. Also, this testimony provides a list of possible oversight issues related to FAMS. This testimony is based on GAO's January 2009 report (GAO-09-273), with selected updates in July 2009. For its 2009 report, GAO analyzed policies and procedures regarding FAMS's operational approach and a July 2006 classified assessment of that approach. Also, GAO analyzed employee working group reports and related FAMS's initiatives for addressing workforce-related issues, and interviewed FAMS headquarters officials and 67 air marshals (selected to reflect a range in levels of experience).

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