Covert testing at aviation security checkpoints has uncovered vulnerabilities in security equipment and in how Transportation Security Officers do their jobs, says a new report by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) internal watchdog office.
The latest report by the Office of Inspector General (IG), comes more than two years after the oversight agency found extremely high failure rates in the use of body imagers, also called Advanced Imaging Technology or AIT, by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at airport checkpoints.
“We identified vulnerabilities with TSA’s screener performance, screening equipment, and associated procedures,” says a one paragraph summary of a new IG report that was released on Thursday. Information in the report is classified or Sensitive Security Information so only the unclassified summary is being released. The summary is dated Sept. 27.
The IG says it made “eight recommendations that when implemented, should improve TSA’s screening checkpoint operational effectiveness.”
TSA says it is coordinating with the IG’s office on the implementation of the recommendations.
Neither the specific recommendations nor any of the vulnerabilities at the checkpoint discovered by the IG through its covert testing are mentioned in the report summary.
The IG’s covert testing more than two years ago discovered that that in 96 percent of instances, Transportation Security Officers using the AIT machines at eight airports failed to detect hidden items. The IG never released the results of its testing but they were leaked to media outlets. Still, John Roth, the DHS IG, discussed the failures in congressional hearings.
Roth also said then that TSA’s own testing demonstrated results similar to what the IG found and yet didn’t make it an issue higher up in DHS.
Peter Neffenger, who became the TSA chief at about the time the IG’s covert testing results became public, said in in the fall of 2015 that that AIT systems work properly when used as designed. He also said then that there had been a priority put on TSA personnel to speed travelers through the checkpoint at the expense of security.