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    Subject Term: Airports

    15 publications with a total of 32 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: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better assess whether RSCs are meeting USRAP objectives, the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration should develop outcome-based indicators, as required by State policy.

    Agency: Department of State: Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better assess whether RSCs are meeting USRAP objectives, the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration should monitor RSC performance against such indicators on a regular basis.

    Agency: Department of State: Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that USCIS officers effectively adjudicate applications for refugee status, the Director of USCIS should develop and implement a plan to deploy officers with national security expertise on circuit rides.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that USCIS officers effectively adjudicate applications for refugee status, the Director of USCIS should conduct regular quality assurance assessments of refugee application adjudications across USCIS's Refugee Affairs Division and International Operations Division.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: USCIS provided documentation that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials conducted a quality assurance assessment of refugee adjudications in July 2017 and has plans to conduct an additional quality assurance assessment in January or February 2018. To fully address this recommendation, USCIS should demonstrate a continued commitment to conducting regular quality assurance assessments of refugee application adjudications.
    Recommendation: To provide reasonable assurance that USRAP applicant fraud prevention and detection controls are adequate and effectively implemented, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State should conduct regular joint assessments of applicant fraud risk across USRAP.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide reasonable assurance that USRAP applicant fraud prevention and detection controls are adequate and effectively implemented, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State should conduct regular joint assessments of applicant fraud risk across USRAP.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness of airport wait time data that CBP currently reports on its public website, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to report airport wait time data for different categories of travelers.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Chris P. Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to fulfill its role as the facilitator of cross-sector collaboration and best-practices sharing, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Assistant Secretary of Infrastructure Protection, Office of Infrastructure Protection, to explore with key critical infrastructure partners, whether and what opportunities exist to harmonize federally-administered screening and credentialing access control efforts across critical infrastructure sectors.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    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 that SCO uses its time and resources to pursue the most efficient and effective screening and credentialing harmonization goals on behalf of the department, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Screening Coordination, Office of Policy, to establish goals and objectives to support its broader strategic framework for harmonization.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure the effectiveness of CBP's predeparture programs, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection should develop and implement a system of performance measures and baselines to evaluate the effectiveness of CBP's predeparture programs and assess whether the programs are achieving their stated goals.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) reported that it established a working group comprised of designated program officials from CBP's Admissibility and Passenger Programs; National Targeting Center; Planning, Program Analysis, and Evaluation; and, Preclearance offices to develop and implement a system of performance measures and baselines to evaluate the effectiveness of CBP's predeparture programs. As of July 2017, CBP reported that the working group had developed three performance measures for its predeparture programs. According to OFO officials, fiscal year 2018 will be the first complete year that each of these measures is calculated using a standardized and repeatable methodology and will thus be used as a baseline year. The baselines developed during fiscal year 2018 will then be used in future assessments of program effectiveness. To fully address this recommendation to develop and implement performance measures and baselines for evaluating its predeparture programs, GAO will review documentation from CBP, when available, on the fiscal year 2018 baselines and CBP's planned evaluation of fiscal year 2019 data against those baselines.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To fulfill the secretarial order's directive that FWS manage Midway in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that the public, including key parties that have previously expressed interest in historic preservation issues on Midway, are notified about future FWS undertakings that may have an adverse effect on historic properties so that they have an opportunity to provide comment and input.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    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: Michele Mackin
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that actions taken to improve the test and evaluation process address identified challenges, the Administrator of TSA should finalize all aspects of the third party testing strategy before implementing further third party testing requirements for vendors to enter testing.

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

    Comments: In its response to this recommendation, the Department of Homeland Security concurred and identified initial planned actions to implement the finalize third party strategy. Subsequently, in the Spring of 2016, the TSA Office of Security Capabilities finalized its third party tester application and approval process; established quality conformance standards for potential third party testers; and gathered and considered industry feedback on potential third party test strategy consequences among other actions. Collectively, TSA established and published program requirements and procedures for the third party test strategy. In late 2016, TSA formally delayed its planned implementation of the third-party testing program by a calendar year to now be completed by December 31, 2017. TSA cited a need to conduct additional assessments, coordination challenges, and larger TSA security equipment related initiatives as the reasons for the delay. As part of its regular recommendation status reporting to GAO, TSA in the Spring 2017, noted that it is on track to meet the intent of the recommendation by the later revised date. TSA noted it had recently updated its qualification process by which qualified product lists will be populated and has already incorporated various aspects of third party testing for legacy security equipment qualification.
    Director: Gerald Dillingham, Ph.D
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve the U.S. aviation sector's preparedness for future communicable disease threats from abroad, the Secretary of Transportation should work with relevant stakeholders, such as the Department of Health and Human Services, to develop a national aviation-preparedness plan for communicable disease outbreaks. Such a plan could establish a mechanism for coordination between the aviation and public health sectors and provides clear and transparent planning assumptions for a variety of types and levels of communicable disease threats.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

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

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that TSA's planned testing yields reliable results, the TSA Administrator should take steps to ensure that TSA's planned effectiveness testing of the Managed Inclusion process adheres to established evaluation design practices.

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

    Comments: TSA continues to make progress on implementing this recommendation. In March 2017, TSA reported that an evaluation of the security effectiveness of the managed inclusion process is to be completed over the next few weeks. Once documentation for the evaluation is available, TSA will provide it for review and analysis.
    Director: Jennifer A. Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To assess the progress of the Secure Flight program toward achieving its goals, the Transportation Security Administration's Administrator should develop additional measures to address key performance aspects related to each program goal, and ensure these measures clearly identify the activities necessary to achieve progress toward the goal.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions that DHS TSA has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information. Status last confirmed on 10/26/15.
    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: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not concur with GAO's November 2013 recommendation to 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. However, as of July 2017, DHS has reduced funding for its behavior detection activities and taken some steps toward identifying additional evidence to support its use of behavioral indicators. TSA officials stated that GAO's recommendation contributed to DHS's decision to reduce the number of behavior detection officers (BDO) from 3,131 full-time equivalents in fiscal year 2013 to 2,393 full-time equivalents employed in fiscal year 2016. Further, in the summer of 2016 and consistent with the Aviation Security Act of 2016, the agency began assigning BDOs to other positions at passenger screening checkpoints where they are able to observe passengers while performing screening duties. According to TSA officials, all BDOs have now been converted into transportation security officers with behavior detection capabilities, which is expected to reduce the cost of the agency's behavior detection activities. As of August 2017, TSA does not yet have an estimate of any associated cost reductions. Since GAO's 2013 report, TSA has revised its list of behavioral indicators and taken some steps to identify evidence that these indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security. Specifically, TSA hired a contractor to search available literature for sources supporting its revised list of 36 behavioral indicators. However, in 2017, GAO reviewed all 178 sources TSA identified and found that 98 percent (175 of 178) did not provide valid evidence for specific behavioral indicators in its revised list and that the remaining 3 sources could be used as valid evidence to support 8 of the 36 indicators. GAO reported that TSA should continue to limit funding for the agency's behavior detection activities until TSA can provide valid evidence demonstrating that behavioral indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security, consistent with the recommendation in its November 2013 report.
    Director: Fleming, Susan A
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help maximize the use of available capacity at slot-controlled airports, enhance competition through greater airline access to slots, and enhance transparency of slot information, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to apply slot rules to individual slots, as opposed to pools of slots within a slot period.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2015, the FAA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the New York City area airports. The proposal included changes to how the FAA would determine compliance with minimum slot usage rules similar to GAO's recommendation and the WSG. Under that concept, a slot would only be considered for a flight or series of flights in a single slot and not potentially applied or averaged to more than one slot. The NPRM was withdrawn by DOT and FAA in April 2016 to allow further evaluation of recent changes in demand, competition, operations, and other factors in the New York City area airports. The FAA and the Office of the Secretary continue to evaluate the circumstances at the New York City area airports and DCA and, if necessary, will consider steps to ensure compliance with minimum slot usage, including future rulemaking.
    Recommendation: To help maximize the use of available capacity at slot-controlled airports, enhance competition through greater airline access to slots, and enhance transparency of slot information, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to periodically disclose information, which may include current slot holders and operators, on currently available slots.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The FAA currently provides the public with slot holder and slot operator information and allocated slot levels by period upon request. Additionally, the FAA regularly discusses slot availability with interested parties. The FAA is also working on a Slot Administration Office webpage that would include references to current rules, orders, other agency actions, and related guidance materials. We anticipate the website will be available in 2017. The website will include commonly requested reports, such as slot holder, slot operator, and uneven slot transfer lists on a quarterly basis.
    Recommendation: To help maximize the use of available capacity at slot-controlled airports, enhance competition through greater airline access to slots, and enhance transparency of slot information, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to collect and disclose data, including the relationship between lessors and lessees, on slot leases.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The FAA has historically maintained a listing of slot transfers between non-commonly owned or non-commonly marketed carriers. These are known as uneven transfers and include transfers other than one-for-one-swaps at the same airport. This list is regularly made available on request. The uneven transfer information will be placed on the FAA Slot Administration Office website discussed in the update to Recommendation 4. The FAA also requires carriers to submit information on the specific slot(s) to be transferred, including the gaining and losing carriers and the effective dates.
    Recommendation: With respect to possible future regulatory action, the DOT Secretary should consider requiring airlines to schedule a certain percentage, or all, of their slot allocations, similar to practices maintained elsewhere in the world.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department concurs that any future rulemaking should consider changes to the minimum slot usage rules to improve slot utilization at the slot controlled airports and provide greater harmonization with industry standards applied at airports outside the U.S. The FAA and the Department of Transportation stated that they will evaluate the circumstances at the New York City area airports and DCA and, if necessary, will consider steps to improve slot utilization, including future rulemaking.
    Director: Dillingham, Gerald L
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that federal investments effectively address the remaining airport noise problem and to more fully demonstrate the results of AIP noise grants, the Secretary of Transportation should direct FAA to establish a strategic noise reduction goal that aligns with the nature and extent of airport noise and targets the agency's noise grant program.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2013, FAA responded to GAO that it had conducted a review of its strategic goals related to noise and concluded that they were sufficiently robust. However, as noted in the report and in subsequent conversations with FAA officials as recently as 2016, FAA's strategic goal of reducing the population within a 65 Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL) to less than 300,000 had no relationship with the noise grant program. Noise grants are for mitigating those people living within 65 DNL.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that federal investments effectively address the remaining airport noise problem and to more fully demonstrate the results of AIP noise grants, the Secretary of Transportation should direct FAA to establish performance measures to assess progress toward this goal that better demonstrate the results of the program and provide Congress and FAA's program managers with information to gauge progress and make programmatic decisions.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: FAA concurred in part to this recommendation. In August 2013, FAA responded to GAO that it had reviewed its noise grant performance measures and concluded that the performance measures and target levels remain valid, though acknowledged that emerging issues could eventually lead FAA to adjust its targets. However, as noted in the report and in subsequent conversations with FAA officials as recently as 2016, that there is insufficient performance information about the nature and extent of remaining airport noise exposure and the contribution of noise grants in mitigating the impact of that exposure. Specifically, FAA does not know how many residences, schools, or other public buildings are in significantly noise exposed areas or which of those have yet to benefit from noise insulation projects. Without this information, Congress and FAA program managers cannot make fully informed decisions about what the noise grant program can reasonably be expected to address in the future and the extent to which noise exposure remains a constraint on growth.