GAO Releases Keating Report on Airport Perimeter Security

KA_Barnstable Airport_JetBlue_Centerville Pie_051216_047HYANNIS – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its investigative report in response to Congressman Bill Keating’s request for an update on the status of perimeter security at commercial airports.

The last GAO report on the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) oversight of perimeter security was in 2009.

The report determined that the TSA had not conducted a comprehensive risk assessment based on threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences, as required by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Infrastructure Protection Plan.

In February 2014, Congressman Keating requested that GAO update this report and reexamine TSA’s security measures.

“For the past five years, I have continued to say that perimeter security remains our most pressing issue at airports across the country, and this report confirms that we have many deficiencies that need to be addressed immediately,” said Congressman Keating. “The intense scrutiny placed at checkpoints in airports, but not on the perimeter, is the equivalent of locking your home’s doors while leaving your windows wide open.  The GAO found that in many instances, the windows are open at our airports.”

Data indicates that less than 20 percent of the country’s 437 commercial airports are evaluated by TSA on a consistent basis – sometimes significantly less than that in a given year.

The TSA’s airport perimeter access risk assessments were last updated in 2013, and the national strategy for securing against unauthorized perimeter access was last updated in 2012.

The latest GAO report gives recommendations to improve airport perimeter security, including: Updating risk assessments to reflect changes to risk environment; implementing a process for continuing risk assessments to keep security up-to-date; and conducting a comprehensive study of perimeter security which would highlight the different needs of different airports.

In March, Keating received a version of the latest GAO report that contained additional non-public security information.

In response to the recommendations in the report, in April he introduced the Airport Perimeter and Access Control Security Act of 2016.

The legislation requires TSA to modernize and enhance airport perimeter security by consistently updating their risk assessments, as well as by developing a comprehensive strategy to keep perimeters safe in the face of evolving threats.

The Airport Perimeter and Access Control Act passed the House Homeland Security Committee this spring with bipartisan support.

The full report can be found at www.gao.gov

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