The attempted bombing of Northwest flight 253 in December 2009 underscores the need for effective aviation security programs. Aviation security remains a daunting challenge with hundreds of airports and thousands of flights daily carrying millions of passengers and pieces of checked baggage. The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has spent billions of dollars and implemented a wide range of aviation security initiatives. Two key layers of aviation security are (1) TSA's Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program designed to identify persons who may pose a security risk; and (2) airport perimeter and access controls security. This testimony provides information on the extent to which TSA has taken actions to validate the scientific basis of SPOT and strengthen airport perimeter security. This statement is based on prior products GAO issued from September 2009 through September 2011 and selected updates in August and September 2011. To conduct the updates, GAO analyzed documents on TSA's progress in strengthening aviation security, among other things.
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