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For Immediate Release
DHS Press Office
The Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security has provided me with a classified, preliminary briefing that reflects test results centered largely on a specific manner in which someone may seek to bring prohibited items through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening into the secure area of an airport. It is important to remember that all air travelers are subject to a robust security system that employs multiple layers of detection and protection, many of which are not visible to the traveling public.
Red Team testing of the aviation security network has been part of TSA's mission advancement for 13 years. The numbers in these reports never look good out of context, but they are a critical element in the continual evolution of our aviation security. We take these findings very seriously in our continued effort to test, measure and enhance our capabilities and techniques as threats evolve.
The Inspector General’s preliminary test results are classified, and it is not appropriate or prudent to publicly describe these results.
Having said that, I believe it is appropriate to go beyond yesterday’s statement and more fully inform the public of the actions I am directing the TSA to take as part of our effort to continually enhance our security capabilities and techniques.
First, I have directed TSA leadership to immediately revise its standard operating procedures for screening to address the specific vulnerabilities identified by the Inspector General’s testing.
Second, I have directed TSA to immediately brief the results of testing to the Federal Security Directors at every airport across the United States.
Third, I have directed TSA to conduct training for all transportation security officers, in a phased fashion, in airports across the country, and intensive training for all supervisory personnel to address the specific vulnerabilities identified by the Inspector General’s testing.
Fourth, I have directed TSA, in phased fashion, to re-test and re-evaluate the screening equipment currently in use at airports across the United States. As a related matter, I personally intend to meet with senior executives of the contractors involved in the development of the equipment at issue to communicate to them the importance of their assistance in our efforts to investigate and remedy the deficiencies highlighted by the Inspector General.
Fifth, I am asking the Inspector General and TSA to conduct continued random covert testing to assess the effectiveness of these and other measures to improve airport security.
Sixth, I am appointing a team of TSA and DHS senior leaders to oversee and ensure timely implementation of these actions. I will remain personally engaged in this effort, and will ask the team to report its progress to me on a bi-weekly basis.
Longer term, in the coming months, I have directed TSA to ensure that all screening equipment is operating up to the highest possible standards. I have also directed TSA and the Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Science and Technology to examine adopting new technologies to address the vulnerabilities identified by the Inspector General’s testing.
I continue to have confidence in the TSA workforce. Last fiscal year TSA screened a record number of passengers at airports in the United States, and, at the same time, seized a record number of prohibited items. TSA and the Inspector General are constantly testing and adapting the systems we have in place as part of our commitment to aviation security.
Finally, the President has nominated United States Coast Guard Vice Admiral Pete Neffenger to be the next Administrator of TSA. I urge the Senate to confirm this nomination as quickly as possible.