In the wake of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush signed into law the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA; P.L. 107-71). Most notably, ATSA created the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). TSA has a vital and important mission and is critical to the security of the traveling public. To fulfill its mission, TSA employs many hard working, dedicated personnel. It is the government‘s responsibility, however, to direct the agency‘s mission and prevent a cumbersome bureaucracy from inhibiting TSA‘s ability to address and adapt to changing security needs. Almost all western countries have evolved their airport screening systems to meet current aviation threats through federal oversight of private contract screeners. The U.S. must also evolve to provide the most effective transportation security system at the most reasonable cost to the taxpayer.
This report is an examination and critical analysis of the development, evolution, and current status and performance of TSA ten years after its creation. Since its inception, TSA has lost its focus on transportation security. Instead, it has grown into an enormous, inflexible and distracted bureaucracy, more concerned with human resource management and consolidating power, and acting reactively instead of proactively. As discussed more fully in the Recommendations section on page 18, TSA must realign its responsibilities as a federal regulator and focus on analyzing intelligence, setting screening and security standards based on risk, auditing passenger and baggage screening operations, and ensuring compliance with national screening standards.
The purpose of this report is to offer constructive recommendations for the improvement of airport screening operations and transportation security. This review of TSA‘s performance and current mission has been conducted by Majority investigative staff of the House Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure and Oversight and Government Reform. Members of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure were responsible for authoring the organic legislation that created TSA, and Members are currently preparing new legislation to reform TSA in accordance with the findings in this report.