TSA’s bomb-sniffing dogs could be doing more, report finds

Chris O'Meara/AP file photo

The Transportation Security Administration collects data on its bomb-sniffing canine program but is not analyzing the data to determine what is working well and what is not, according to a new report.

“Such analyses could help TSA to determine canine teams' proficiency, inform future deployment efforts, and help ensure that taxpayer funds are used effectively,” the Government Accountability Office wrote.

Security screeners use the dogs to detect explosive devices and materials on cargo and passengers.

In conducting its own analyses of TSA data, auditors found canine teams were often not in compliance with monthly training requirements. The teams tasked with inspecting cargo were screening more shipments than required, signaling TSA could increase the minimum.

TSA is also not utilizing data for its passenger screening canine teams, which are tasked with inspecting individuals for explosives. Many airport officials do not trust the effectiveness of the teams and have therefore declined to use their services. This has led to a lack of bomb-sniffing dogs in the “highest-risk airport locations,” GAO said.

Even when the teams have been deployed, TSA has not analyzed available information to determine where within the airport the dogs should be located to maximize effectiveness.

GAO recommended TSA analyze its data to identify trends and what areas of the canine programs need to be fixed. It also suggested a full assessment of the passenger screening program to determine its usefulness. If the assessment proves targeting individuals is effective, the teams should then be applied to the highest risk airports, the auditors said.

The TSA has more than 760 canine teams and in 2012, a $101 million budget for canine programs. It concurred with all of GAO’s recommendations. 

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:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

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