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Highlights

GAO provided information on aviation security, focusing on: (1) the frequency with which law enforcement officers carry weapons on board commercial aircraft; and (2) if weapons carriage regulations, both current and proposed, are sufficient to ensure the safety of passengers and the security of the aircraft.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation As a means to collect data on how frequently officers carry firearms on board the nation's commercial airlines, to provide positive means for verifying the identity of armed law enforcement officers entering secure areas of airports, and to better ensure the safety of passengers, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to work with the airlines and law enforcement agencies to implement a secure memory card system and publish a timetable for its implementation.
Closed - Not Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Not Implemented.

FAA's Aviation Security Advisory Committee established a task force to implement the recommendation. The task force developed a plan for creating and testing a Law Enforcement Officer Verification Card. During 2001, the system was tested. As a result of the events of September 11, much of the work of FAA's Civil Aviation Security Office of Policy & Planning was transferred to the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA). According to TSA, the verification card for law enforcement officers proved to be a user friendly, high tech solution to absolutely verify the identity of law enforcement officers flying armed. However, a new effort to have a national "Transportation Workers Identification Card" (a post September 11 initiative intended for a population of 12-15 million) has been proposed as an alternate means for law enforcement officer verification. As a result, the intended program has not been implemented. The larger "one-size-fits-all" card program has been briefed to industry organizations and vendors, but not to law enforcement. The Law Enforcement Officer Verification Card Program has the support of the pilots unions, the air carriers, the airports, and law enforcement agencies, but does not have the support of those who advocate the larger "one-size-fits-all" transportation workers card program. Conversions with TSA officials in August 2004 indicate that the agency has not implemented and does not plan to implement GAO's recommendation.
Department of Transportation As a means to collect data on how frequently officers carry firearms on board the nation's commercial airlines, to provide positive means for verifying the identity of armed law enforcement officers entering secure areas of airports, and to better ensure the safety of passengers, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to require airlines to screen the carry-on baggage of law enforcement officers in order to detect items that could present a threat to flight safety.
Closed - Not Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Not Implemented.

FAA non-concurred and took no action.
Department of Transportation As a means to collect data on how frequently officers carry firearms on board the nation's commercial airlines, to provide positive means for verifying the identity of armed law enforcement officers entering secure areas of airports, and to better ensure the safety of passengers, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA to develop procedures to help ensure that officers do not leave weapons on aircraft.
Closed - Not Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Not Implemented.

FAA non-concurred and took no action.

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