TSA Told to Boost Detection Oversight

The U.S. Government Accounting Office says the Transportation Security Administration needs to boost its oversight of explosive detection programs.

GAO Highlights GAO-06-975 reported Monday that a GAO report to congressional committees said the TSA was mandated to screen all checked baggage by using explosive detection systems at airports by Dec. 31, 2003. However, the TSA is exercising insufficient oversight on the program, the GAO said.

The TSA has deployed two types of screening equipment. The first system is explosive detection systems, or EDS, which use computer-aided tomography X-rays to locate explosives. The second system consists of explosive trace detection, or ETD, devices, which use chemical analysis to detect explosive residues.

The GAO report reviewed EDS and ETD maintenance costs, factors influencing the costs and TSA oversight of maintenance contracts for the systems.

The GAO recommended that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff direct the TSA to establish a timeline to close out the contract with Boeing Service Company and report to congressional committees on actions to recover any excessive fees awarded to Boeing. Other GAO recommendations including establishing a timeline to complete the EDS life-cycle model and requiring documentation to monitor EDS and ETD maintenance contracts.

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