TSA Notes Challenges in International Screening

TSA Notes Challenges in International Screening

The Transportation Security Administration is satisfied with its security screening program for goods shipped on domestic passenger airline flights, but TSA said Wednesday challenges remain in meeting Congress’ order to screen 100 percent of international inbound cargo.

John Sammon, who heads TSA’s air cargo security program, told members of the House Homeland Security Committee there are now 1,167 participants in the Certified Cargo Screening Program, one of the agency’s key strategic layers.

“TSA must remain vigilant in ensuring that certified companies properly screen air cargo,” Sammon said. To do so TSA increased its inspector staff from 450 to 500, who conducted more than 6,000 inspections last year.

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Sammon said that international efforts are more difficult since the agency has no authority to require foreign countries to screen cargo on passenger aircraft. TSA originally planned to meet the 100 percent goal by 2013 but earlier this year pushed the deadline up to the end of 2011. He said TSA is allowing airlines to comment on the deadline.

However, several carriers are already close to the 100 percent goal, Sammon said. Several countries have programs similar to CCSP. TSA is also reviewing other countries’ security plans to see how well they relate to the U.S. program.

General Accountability Office official Steve Lord testified that TSA had not followed up on the office’s recommendation to establish measures that would assure that screening is being done as promised. He said it is important for TSA to have complete and accurate data to assure lawmakers that the 100 percent screening deadlines are met.

-- Contact R.G. Edmonson at bedmonson@joc.com.