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GAO Confirms TSA Screening of Air Cargo Can’t be Verified

March 21st 2011

Terrorism - EWR Suspicious Package Response

The Transportation Security Administration reported last August that it met its mandate to screen 100 percent of air cargo. But the Government Accountability Office says TSA cannot verify the accuracy of the data it used, according to a recent report.

Airline industry representatives report screening data to the TSA, but the government has no way to verify the accuracy of the data. TSA cannot cross-reference its local screening logs, which have information on specific shipments, with the reports submitted by air carriers to TSA.

Another area of concern is the cargo transported on pallets or containers. No technology is currently approved by TSA to screen cargo once it’s loaded onto a large-sized pallet—a common means of transporting air cargo on passenger aircraft.

“Questions exist about the reliability of TSA’s reported screening data for inbound cargo because TSA does not have a mechanism to verify the accuracy of the data reported by industry,” the GAO report said. “TSA officials stated that current screening percentages are based on actual data reported by air carriers, but stated that it is difficult to verify the accuracy of the screening data reported by air carriers.”

In 2009, about 6.5 billion pounds of cargo were transported on U.S. passenger flights—approximately 56 percent of which was transported domestically and 44 percent of which was transported on flights entering the U.S.

Laurel Adams writes for the Center for Public Integrity, from where this article is reprinted.

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