Verification Review of Transportation Security Administration's Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques/Behavior Detection and Analysis Program   [open pdf - 830KB]

"In 2013, we audited TSA's [Transportation Security Administration] then-Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program. TSA has since changed the name of the program from the SPOT program to the BDA [Behavioral Detection and Analysis] program. The intent of the program is to screen passengers by observing their behavior in order to detect potential high-risk travelers. The program uses Behavior Detection Officers (BDO) to detect passenger behaviors that may be indicative of stress, fear, or deception. Currently, TSA operates the program at 87 airports (BDA airports) with 2,660 full-time staff. Between fiscal years 2007 and 2015, the program expended an estimated $1.5 billion. Our 2013 audit reported that TSA had not implemented a comprehensive strategic plan to ensure the SPOT program's success and did not have adequate controls to ensure the completeness, accuracy, authorization, and validity of program data. To address the 2013 report's recommendations, TSA implemented a comprehensive strategic plan and addressed the accuracy and reliability of data by conducting a large scale data audit to identify and correct errors in its referral data. TSA also implemented additional controls to improve the timeliness and accuracy of recorded referrals. Subsequently, we closed the recommendations because we determined that TSA's corrective actions met the intent of our recommendations. In this verification review, we evaluated whether TSA's on-going actions still meet the intent of these recommendations. We did not look at the program's effectiveness, as this review is limited in scope. We intend to conduct an audit of the program's effectiveness in FY 2017."

Report Number:
Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Report No. OIG-16-111-VR
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General: http://www.oig.dhs.gov/
Media Type:
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