Aviation Security: Efforts to Validate TSA's Passenger Screening Behavior Detection Program Underway, but Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Validation and Address Operational Challenges, Report to the Ranking Member, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives   [open pdf - 2MB]

From the Highlights: "To enhance aviation security, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began initial testing in October 2003 of its Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program. Behavior Detection Officers (BDO) carry out SPOT's mission to identify persons who pose a risk to aviation security by focusing on behavioral and appearance indicators. GAO [Government Accountability Office] was asked to review the SPOT program. GAO analyzed (1) the extent to which TSA validated the SPOT program before deployment, (2) implementation challenges, and (3) the extent to which TSA measures SPOT's effect on aviation security. GAO analyzed TSA documents, such as strategic plans and operating procedures; interviewed agency personnel and subject matter experts; and visited 15 SPOT airports, among other things. Although the results from these visits are not generalizable, they provided insights into SPOT operations. GAO recommends that TSA, among other things, use an independent panel of experts to assist in validating SPOT, enhance SPOT data collection and analysis, fully utilize TSA resources to identify possible threats, and establish a plan to develop more outcome-oriented measures for SPOT. DHS reviewed a draft of this report and generally concurred with our recommendations although its plans do not fully address one of our recommendations."

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Public Domain
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Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/
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