TSA's Behavior Detection Procedure Is Not a Good Way to Spot Terrorists

Rob Carr/AP file photo

A new report from the Government Accountability Office concerning Transportation Security Administration screening procedures has found one aspect of passenger screening to be "the same as or slightly better than chance." The report focuses on the administration's S.P.O.T. program (Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques) which involves engaging suspicious passengers in conversation to figure out if they're planning an attack.

The program current places 3,000 behavior detection officers at more than 170 airports in the country. It also costs around $200 million per year, meaning that since 2007 at least $1 billion has been spent or, if the report is anything to go by, wasted on it. The report also calls into question a 2011 study by the Homeland Security Department  -- TSA's parent organization -- which the GAO said used "unreliable data."

Leading Republicans and Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee expressed concern over the report. Committee Chair and Texas Representative Mike McCaul said that despite the perceived value of investing in aviation security, "we can only support programs that are proven effective," while committee member said that the report "displays what I have been saying for years – that TSA’s Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques program is fundamentally flawed."

Read more on The Atlantic Wire

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.