House Of Representatives Calls For TSA Overhaul

Republicans in the House have filed a report called “A Decade Later: A Call For TSA Reform” (PDF), which was co-written by the author of the original bill that created the TSA, John Mica, and who has spoken out before against the ineffective bureaucracy that the agency has become. The report has nothing good to say about the TSA and reams it for having become bloated, having no focus, being reactionary instead of proactive, having never once stopped a terrorist attack, deviating from its original mandate, and not implementing measures that Congress has requested.


Highlights of the report:

  • The TSA is very top-heavy, with about 10,000 of its 65,000 employees being administrators, and another 4,000 working at headquarters
  • Due to low morale, it has an incredibly high turnover rate of 17%; more employees have left the agency than are currently employed there
  • It keeps focusing on hijacking of airplanes, in spite of changes post-9/11 that have rendered them largely impractical: reinforced cockpit doors, air marshals and vigilant passengers
  • Performance is horrendous: since the agency’s inception 10 years ago, more than 25,000 security breaches have occurred
  • It has invested billions in security programs and technologies that eventually proved to be ineffective and are no longer used
  • Its original purpose was to serve as an intelligence gathering and analyzing agency, not as a security guard corporation

  • Contracting out the actual screening service to private firms has been proven to be cheaper and at least as effective, but the TSA refuses to allow the practice
  • It has major leadership problems: top administrators have changed five times in ten years, with long periods in between where there was no TSA chief
  • It employs security theater instead of actual security measures

“Today, TSA‘s screening policies are based in theatrics. They are typical, bureaucratic responses to failed security policies meant to assuage the concerns of the traveling public.

  • It failed to stop the only four major terrorist attacks since 9/11: the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber, who were stopped by passengers; the Times Square bomber, who the TSA allowed to board a plane despite being placed on the “no fly” list, and was eventually apprehended by the Customs and Border Patrol; and the toner cartridge bomb plot, which was foiled by foreign intelligence agencies.

“Since its inception, TSA has hired over 137,000 employees, grown into a mammoth bureaucracy of 65,000 employees, spent almost $57 billion, yet has failed to detect any major terrorist threat since 9/11, including the Shoe Bomber, the Underwear Bomber, the Times Square Bomber, and the Toner Cartridge Bomb Plot. Congress created TSA to be a lean organization that would analyze intelligence and set risk-based security standards for the U.S. transportation system. Today, TSA suffers from bureaucratic morass and mismanagement.”

The report recommends making the agency more independent from the Department of Homeland Security, elevating the oft-ignored role of TSA administrator, shift its role from security force to that of federal regulator and intelligence agency, using more contractors, using common sense and risk analysis in its policy-making procedure, developing a more international role to deal with international terrorists, making performance results public after two years, and submitting to an outside study and recommendations on how to restructure the agency.

From The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (PDF), via Slashdot


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