The Transportation Security Administration has made progress toward its goal of scanning all air cargo on domestic passenger flights by Aug. 3, but the Government Accountability Office says it doubts the agency can make the deadline.
In testimony Wednesday before the House Homeland Security Committee, Steve Lord, GAO director of homeland security and justice issues, said that TSA lacked a contingency plan to initiate if it does not reach the deadline set by Congress three years ago.
On the other hand, the GAO said TSA has made significant progress, including creation of the Certified Cargo Screening Program, and growth in the volume of air cargo that is screened. However, in a May 10 report, TSA had only reached the 75 percent mark in screening, leading to GAO’s doubts that it would meet the deadline.
The GAO also found that TSA is testing screening technologies, and increased its force of sniffing dogs. However, TSA still has to find the technology to screen containerized cargo that moves on wide-body aircraft.
TSA will not meet the Aug. 3 goal for screening all air cargo arriving from overseas, the GAO said. The government watchdog estimated that 55 percent of inbound cargo will be screened by August, but GAO admitted that the 100 percent mark will require more years of international negotiations.
John Sammon, who directs TSA’s air cargo, said he resisted GAO’s recommendation for a contingency plan. He said having a fallback will signal to the industry that TSA is not serious about the Aug. 3 deadline.
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