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    Results:

    Subject Term: "Aviation security"

    7 publications with a total of 20 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Jennifer Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Assistant Administrator for the Office of Global Strategies should ensure that data regarding the root causes of security deficiencies and corrective actions are consistently captured in accordance with TSA guidance. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Administrator for the Office of Global Strategies should update TSA's data systems to include more specific categories for TSA's data on the root causes and corrective actions related to security deficiencies. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Jennifer Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Administrator of TSA should explore and pursue methods to assess the deterrent effect of TSA's passenger aviation security countermeasures; such an effort should identify FAMS—a countermeasure with a focus on deterring threats—as a top priority to address. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. When we confirm what actions TSA has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of TSA should systematically evaluate the potential cost and effectiveness tradeoffs across countermeasures, as TSA improves the reliability and extent of its information on the effectiveness of aviation security countermeasures. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and in its September 2017 response to our report, DHS stated that TSA will continue efforts to improve both its analysis of information related to security effectiveness and its cost information, leading to better informed cost-benefit decisions for individual countermeasures. To address the intent of our recommendation, TSA will need to evaluate the costs and effectiveness of individual aviation security countermeasures and then use this information to systematically evaluate the potential cost and effectiveness tradeoffs across countermeasures. When we confirm what actions TSA has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Jenny Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure effective evaluation of air marshal training, the TSA Administrator should direct OTD to implement a mechanism for regularly collecting and incorporating incumbent air marshals' feedback on the training they receive from field office programs.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, we reported that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) conducted surveys to obtain feedback from air marshal candidates and newly graduated air marshals on the effectiveness of their training, but did not systematically collect training feedback from incumbent air marshals on field-based training. We recommended that TSA's Office of Training and Development implement a mechanism for regularly collecting and incorporating incumbent air marshals' feedback on the training they receive from field office programs. In July 2017, TSA reported that its Office of Training and Development developed a survey (Field Office Recurrent Training Survey) that is intended to measure the effectiveness of FAMS training curriculum, field office training personnel, and training facilities. Additionally, in November 2016, TSA resumed the field office training assessments to evaluate field office training programs and their instructors. As part of these assessments, TSA sends surveys to supervisors and air marshals in the field with questions on the effectiveness of the field office's training program. To fully address this recommendation, TSA should also incorporate incumbent air marshals' feedback on the recurrent training they receive in the field.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective evaluation of air marshal training, the TSA Administrator should direct OTD to take additional steps to improve the response rates of the training surveys it conducts.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, we reported that the response rates for federal air marshals training surveys were consistently low. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) uses the survey results to identify training gaps and determine how to appropriately address them. We recommended that TSA take additional steps to improve the response rates of the surveys it conducts. In response to our recommendation, TSA's Office of Training and Development added the training surveys to the On-line Learning Center, which provides a tracking mechanism for program managers to ensure that personnel complete the surveys. In July 2017, TSA reported that the first class of air marshals to graduate from the new hire training and their supervisors would not receive the training surveys until sometime between April and June 2017. GAO will review documentation from TSA, when available, on the response rates for surveys administered in 2017 and 2018.
    Recommendation: To provide reasonable assurance that air marshals are complying with recurrent training requirements and have the capability to carry out FAMS's mission, the TSA Administrator should direct FAMS to develop and implement standardized methods, such as examinations and checklists, for determining whether incumbent air marshals continue to be mission ready in key skills.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, we reported that the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) requires incumbent air marshals to demonstrate their proficiency in marksmanship by achieving a minimum score on the practice pistol course every quarter; however, for the remaining recurrent training courses, FAMS does not assess air marshals' knowledge or performance against a similarly identified level of proficiency. As a result, we recommended that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) develop and implement standardized methods, such as examinations and checklists, for determining whether air marshals continue to be mission ready in key skills. In July 2017, TSA reported that an Integrated Project Team convened in the summer of 2016 to develop a mission ready assessment measure for incumbent air marshals. In response to the team's recommendations, TSA's Office of Training and Development senior leadership requested that the team continue their work, including benchmarking against other agencies. TSA anticipated that the project team would reconvene at the end of fiscal year 2017. GAO will review documentation from TSA, when available, on the Integrated Project Team's recent efforts. To fully address our recommendation, TSA should develop and implement standardized methods for determining whether air marshals continue to be mission ready.
    Director: Andrew Von Ah
    Phone: (213) 830-1011

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to document the processes and analyses for assessing and, as appropriate, for managing the difference between program costs and collections and document resulting decisions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2017, DHS established cost recovery guidance in coordination with the DHS Fee Governance Council and relevant DHS components. Consistent with our recommendation, the guidance documents processes for managing the difference between program costs and collections. For example, the guidance directs that if a fee is set at a rate that does not achieve full cost recovery, DHS components must provide an explanation for the difference and recommendation for adjusting the fee(s), as well as document any reasons for not pursuing the recommended actions. Additionally, the guidance requires that the Fee Governance Council hold a biennial meeting to discuss any fees that do not achieve full cost recovery and to discuss best practices, lessons-learned, and challenges. To fully implement this recommendation, DHS needs to demonstrate that the department and its components have implemented the cost recovery guidance.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to establish processes for managing unobligated carryover balances, to include targets for minimum and maximum balances for programs that lack such processes and targets.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2017, DHS established guidance for carryover balances for fee accounts in coordination with the DHS Fee Governance Council and relevant DHS components. This guidance contains processes for managing unobligated carryover balances, including setting targets for minimum and maximum balances. For example, the guidance directs that for fee accounts where revenue is specifically associated with processing a given workload, the maximum carryover balance target should be sufficient to cover the essential spending that is required to complete the processing and delivery of the pending workload. To fully implement this recommendation, DHS needs to demonstrate that the department and its components have implemented the guidance for carryover balances for fee accounts.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to conduct reviews to identify any management and operational deficiencies.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2017, DHS established guidance on biennial fee reviews in coordination with the DHS Fee Governance Council and relevant DHS components. This guidance requires that each component complete a biennial fee review for all programs for which it has been granted fee authority to determine whether changes to existing fee levels are required, determine whether new fees need to be established, and to identify any management and operational deficiencies. The guidance states that components were to develop and implement procedures and internal controls to comply with the guidance by December 1, 2017. To fully implement our recommendation, DHS must demonstrate that components have implemented the guidance and are conducting biennial fee reviews accordingly to identify any management and operational deficiencies.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to take action to track and report on management and operational deficiencies--including reasons supporting any decisions to not pursue recommended actions--identified in fee reviews or through other means.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2017, DHS established guidance on biennial fee reviews that requires that each component complete a biennial fee review for all programs for which it has been granted fee authority. Consistent with our recommendation, the guidance requires the DHS Office of Chief Financial Officer to then compile, assess, and report on the components' reviews, deficiencies, and any resulting recommendations the components made. Additionally, the guidance requires that the Office of Chief Financial Officer and component Chief Financial Officers take necessary steps to implement the recommendations and track and report on the progress of deficiencies and recommendations. Component Chief Financial Officers are to provide quarterly updates to the Office of Chief Financial Officer on all outstanding deficiencies and recommendations until they are closed. To fully implement our recommendation, DHS needs to demonstrate that the Office of Chief Financial Officer and component Chief Financial Officers have implemented the guidance and are tracking and reporting on management and operational deficiencies-including reasons supporting any decisions to not pursue recommended actions.
    Director: Jennifer Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure TSA's actions in overseeing and facilitating airport security are based on the most recent available risk information that assesses vulnerabilities system-wide and evaluates security events, and that these actions are orchestrated according to a strategic plan that reflects the agency's goals and objectives and its progress in meeting those goals, the Administrator of TSA should update the Risk Assessment of Airport Security to reflect changes to its risk environment, such as those updates reflected in Transportation Sector Security Risk Assessment (TSSRA) and JVA findings, and share results of this risk assessment with stakeholders on an ongoing basis.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure TSA's actions in overseeing and facilitating airport security are based on the most recent available risk information that assesses vulnerabilities system-wide and evaluates security events, and that these actions are orchestrated according to a strategic plan that reflects the agency's goals and objectives and its progress in meeting those goals, the Administrator of TSA should establish and implement a process for determining when additional risk assessment updates are needed.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure TSA's actions in overseeing and facilitating airport security are based on the most recent available risk information that assesses vulnerabilities system-wide and evaluates security events, and that these actions are orchestrated according to a strategic plan that reflects the agency's goals and objectives and its progress in meeting those goals, the Administrator of TSA should develop and implement a method for conducting a system-wide assessment of airport vulnerability that will provide a more comprehensive understanding of airport perimeter and access control security vulnerabilities.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure TSA's actions in overseeing and facilitating airport security are based on the most recent available risk information that assesses vulnerabilities system-wide and evaluates security events, and that these actions are orchestrated according to a strategic plan that reflects the agency's goals and objectives and its progress in meeting those goals, the Administrator of TSA should use security event data for specific analysis of system-wide trends related to perimeter and access control security to better inform risk management decisions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure TSA's actions in overseeing and facilitating airport security are based on the most recent available risk information that assesses vulnerabilities system-wide and evaluates security events, and that these actions are orchestrated according to a strategic plan that reflects the agency's goals and objectives and its progress in meeting those goals, the Administrator of TSA should update the 2012 Strategy for airport security to reflect changes in risk assessments, agency operations, and the status of goals and objectives. Specifically, this update should reflect: (1) information from the Risk Assessment of Airport Security, as well as information contained in the most recent TSSRA and JVAs; (2) new airport security-related activities; (3) the status of TSA efforts to address goals and objectives; and (4) finalized outcome-based performance measures and performance levels--or targets--for each relevant activity and strategic goal.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure TSA's actions in overseeing and facilitating airport security are based on the most recent available risk information that assesses vulnerabilities system-wide and evaluates security events, and that these actions are orchestrated according to a strategic plan that reflects the agency's goals and objectives and its progress in meeting those goals, the Administrator of TSA should establish and implement a process for determining when additional updates to the Strategy are needed.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Jennifer Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that FAMS uses its resources to cover the highest-risk flights, in addition to considering risk when determining how to divide FAMS's international flight coverage resources among international destinations, the Director of FAMS should incorporate risk into FAMS's method for initially setting its annual target numbers of average daily international and domestic flights to cover.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration: Office of Law Enforcement - Federal Air Marshal Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, we found that FAMS officials considered risk when selecting specific domestic and international flights to cover, but they did not consider risk when deciding how to initially divide their annual resources between domestic and international flights. Rather, each year FAMS considered two variables--travel budget and number of air marshals--to identify the most efficient way to divide the agency's resources between domestic and international flights. As a result, we recommended that FAMS incorporate risk into FAMS's method for initially setting its annual target numbers of average daily international and domestic flights to cover. In March 2017, TSA officials reported that FAMS was continuing to identify ways to refine the methodology FAMS uses to allocate resources between international and domestic flights. Specifically, TSA officials noted that FAMS was considering ways to incorporate information on the travel patterns of known or suspected terrorists, trends in TSA PreCheck passenger data, airport screening capabilities, and other factors. FAMS officials also reported that, as part of this effort, they were reviewing their International Concept of Operations. It is unclear how these steps will address the recommendation. To fully address this recommendation, FAMS should incorporate risk into its method for initially setting its annual target numbers of average daily international and domestic flights to cover.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that FAMS uses its resources to cover the highest-risk flights, the Director of FAMS should conduct and document a risk assessment--systematically collecting information on and assigning value to current risks--to further support FAMS's domestic resource allocation decisions, including the identification of high-priority geographic areas.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration: Office of Law Enforcement - Federal Air Marshal Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, we reported that FAMS's choice of domestic geographic focus areas and resource allocation levels were based on professional judgment, not risk assessment. With regard to the geographic focus areas, for example, FAMS officials explained that they did not conduct a risk assessment to inform this decision, but rather selected these areas in consultation with 30 subject matter experts from various offices within TSA based on their intuitive, qualitative perceptions of threats, vulnerabilities, potential impacts, history, and the demographics of the areas. Without fully incorporating risk when determining such priorities, FAMS cannot reasonably ensure it is targeting its resources to the highest-risk flights. As a result, we recommended that FAMS conduct and document a risk assessment--systematically collecting information on and assigning value to current risks--to further support FAMS's domestic resource allocation decisions, including the identification of high-priority geographic areas. In March 2017, TSA officials explained that they were continuing to develop their "risk-by-flight" initiative--a long-term effort to develop a method of assigning each domestic flight a relative risk score to assist in identifying high-risk flights. At the time of our report in 2016, FAMS officials estimated that the risk-by-flight tool would probably be ready for use within 7 to 10 years. In March 2017, TSA officials stated that they had developed a prototype Risk-Based Resource Deployment Decision Aid, which they refer to as R2D2. TSA officials further reported that the DHS Science and Technology Directorate had contracted for the development of a risk engine--based on the R2D2 data--to assign risk values to all U.S.-carrier domestic and international flights. TSA officials reported that this contract runs through early 2018. To fully address this recommendation, FAMS should conduct and document a risk assessment to further support FAMS's domestic resource allocation decisions, including the identification of high-priority geographic areas.
    Director: Grover, Jennifer A
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that security-related funding is directed to programs that have demonstrated their effectiveness, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the TSA Administrator to limit future funding support for the agency's behavior detection activities until TSA can provide scientifically validated evidence that demonstrates that behavioral indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DHS did not concur with this recommendation, but has subsequently taken steps to address it. For example, TSA reduced the number of Behavior Detection Officers (BDO) from 3,131 full-time equivalents (FTE) in fiscal years 2013 through 2015 to 2,600 BDO FTEs in fiscal year 2016 and has reduced funding for its behavior detection activities since 2013. In fiscal year 2017, TSA eliminated the standalone BDO position and began integrating BDOs and behavior detection activities into the standard duties of its transportation security officer (TSO) position. According to TSA, this adjustment resulted in $196 million in funding becoming available to support increased passenger volume at TSA's checkpoints. TSA also revised its list of behavior indicators from 94 to 36. In July 2017, however, GAO found that only 8 of the 36 revised indicators were supported by valid evidence-- which includes original research that meets generally accepted research standards and presents evidence that is applicable in supporting TSA's use of specific behavioral indicators--demonstrating the use of the indicators to identify passengers who pose a threat to aviation security. As a result, GAO reported that TSA should continue to limit funding for behavior detection activities until the agency can provide valid evidence demonstrating that behavioral indicators can be used to identify potentially high-risk passengers. GAO has ongoing work to monitor and review TSA's behavior detection activities.