Aviation Security: Urgent Issues Need to Be Addressed (Testimony,
09/11/96, GAO/T-RCED/NSIAD-96-251).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed federal efforts to
protect civil aviation from terrorist acts. GAO noted that: (1) the
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has increased aviation security
procedures, but domestic and international aviation remain seriously
vulnerable because nearly every major aspect of the aviation security
system has weaknesses that terrorists could exploit; (2) since fiscal
year 1991, FAA has invested over $153 million to develop explosives
detection devices and a number of these devices are commercially
available for checked and carry-on baggage, but all of these devices
have some limitations; (3) there are also passenger-screening devices,
but health, legal, operational, privacy and convenience concerns have
been raised about these devices; (4) FAA is conducting research on
blast-resistant cargo containers that could reduce the need for
explosives detection devices; (5) the Presidential Commission on
Aviation Security and Terrorism has recommended government purchase of
some detectors for airport use, using bomb-sniffing dogs, matching
passengers with their baggage, and profiling passengers; (6) Congress,
the Administration, and the aviation industry need to agree and take
action on the steps needed to counter terrorist threats and who will be
responsible for funding new security initiatives; and (7) the government
has three initiatives underway to address aviation security

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

     TITLE:  Aviation Security: Urgent Issues Need to Be Addressed
      DATE:  09/11/96
   SUBJECT:  Terrorism
             Commercial aviation
             Transportation safety
             Airline industry
             Air transportation operations
             Baggage (personal effects)
             Research and development
             Facility security
IDENTIFIER:  Pan Am Flight 103
             TWA Flight 800
             Philippine Airlines Flight 434
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================================================================ COVER

Before the Subcommittee on Aviation,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
House of Representatives

For Release
on Delivery
Expected at
2:00 p.m.  EDT
September 11, 1996


Statement of Keith O.  Fultz,
Assistant Comptroller General,
Resources, Community, and Economic
Development Division




=============================================================== ABBREV

  FAA -
  GAO -

============================================================ Chapter 0

Mr.  Chairman and Members of the Committee: 

Protecting civil aviation from a terrorist attack is an urgent
national issue.  We appreciate the opportunity to testify before this
Committee on the serious vulnerabilities that exist within the
nation's air transportation system and ways to address them.  Experts
on terrorism within the government intelligence agencies believe that
the threat to civil aviation is increasing.  The threat from
concealed explosive devices remains a high concern.  The 1988
terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people, and
the more recent, but as yet unexplained, explosion of TWA flight 800
have shaken the public's confidence in the safety and security of air

At your request, we are testifying on the steps that need to be taken
to protect the flying public from the activities of terrorists.  Our
testimony is based on several issued GAO reports and testimonies
including a number of unclassified recommendations from our August
1996 classified report.  Today, we will discuss (1) the threat to
aviation from attacks by terrorists, (2) the aviation security system
and vulnerabilities that exist within it, (3) the availability and
limitations of explosives detection technology and other methods to
address the threat, and (4) the efforts under way to improve aviation
security.  We also will discuss the September 9, 1996,
recommendations from the Presidential Commission on Aviation Security
and Terrorism headed by Vice President Al Gore (the Gore Commission). 

The following is our summary: 

  -- The threat of terrorism against the United States has increased. 
     Aviation is and will remain an attractive target for terrorists. 

  -- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has mandated
     additional security procedures as the threat has increased. 
     Currently, aviation security relies on a mix of procedures and
     technology.  However, the domestic and international aviation
     system has serious vulnerabilities.  For example, conventional
     X-ray screening of checked baggage has performance limitations
     and offers little protection against a moderately sophisticated
     explosive device. 

  -- Explosives detection devices that could improve security are
     commercially available for checked and carry-on baggage, but all
     of the devices have some limitations.  Some of these devices are
     being tested domestically and are already in use at overseas
     locations.  The Gore Commission has recommended that the federal
     government purchase some of this equipment for use in airports. 
     Other devices are under development and may be available in a
     few years for screening baggage and passengers, but technologies
     for screening cargo and mail at airports are not as far along. 
     Other security methods that could be expanded upon--and that
     have been recommended by the Gore Commission--include matching
     passengers with their bags and identifying passengers for
     additional security screening (profiling).  A mix of technology
     and procedures will likely be needed to improve security. 

  -- To improve aviation security, the Congress, the
     administration--specifically FAA and the intelligence community,
     among others--and the aviation industry need to agree and take
     action on what needs to be done to meet the threat of terrorism
     and who will pay for it.  Several initiatives are under way to
     address this issue; they include two presidential commissions
     and an FAA working group.  We have made recommendations to
     strengthen these initiatives.  The Gore Commission's report
     provides opportunities for agreement on steps that could be
     taken in the short term; however, the issue of how to finance
     security over the long term still needs to be addressed.  Given
     the urgent need to improve aviation security and FAA's problems
     in addressing long-standing safety and security concerns, once
     steps are agreed upon, it will be important for the Congress to
     monitor their implementation.  Therefore, we believe that the
     Congress should establish goals and performance measures and
     require periodic reports from FAA and other federal agencies on
     the progress and effectiveness of efforts to improve aviation

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1

We have previously reported about the challenges of protecting the
U.S.  civil aviation system from terrorists' attacks, the potential
extent of terrorists' motivation and capabilities, and the
attractiveness of aviation as a target for terrorists.\1 Until the
early 1990s, the threat of terrorism was considered far greater
overseas than in the United States.  However, the threat of
international terrorism within the United States has increased. 
Events such as the World Trade Center bombing have revealed that the
terrorists' threat in the United States is more serious and extensive
than previously believed. 

Terrorists' activities are continually evolving and present unique
challenges to FAA and law enforcement agencies.  We reported in March
1996 that the bombing of Philippine Airlines flight 434 in December
1994 illustrated the potential extent of terrorists' motivation and
capabilities as well as the attractiveness of aviation as a target
for terrorists.  According to information that was accidentally
uncovered in January 1995, this bombing was a rehearsal for multiple
attacks on specific U.S.  flights in Asia. 

\1 Aviation Security:  Additional Actions Needed to Meet Domestic and
International Challenges (GAO/RCED-94-38, Jan.  27, 1994), Aviation
Security:  Development of New Security Technology Has Not Met
Expectations (GAO/RCED-94-142, May 19, 1994), Terrorism and Drug
Trafficking:  Threats and Roles of Explosives and Narcotics Detection
Technology (GAO/NSIAD/RCED-96-76BR, Mar.  27, 1996), and Aviation
Security:  Immediate Action Needed to Improve Security
(GAO/T-RCED/NSIAD-96-237, Aug.  1, 1996). 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2

Even though FAA has increased security procedures as the threat has
increased, the domestic and international aviation system continues
to have numerous vulnerabilities.  According to information provided
by the intelligence community, FAA makes judgments about the threat
and decides which procedures would best address the threat.  The
airlines and airports are responsible for implementing the procedures
and paying for them.  For example, the airlines are responsible for
screening passengers and property, and the airports are responsible
for the security of the airport environment.  FAA and the aviation
community rely on a multifaceted approach that includes information
from various intelligence and law enforcement agencies, contingency
plans to meet a variety of threat levels, and the use of screening
equipment, such as conventional X-ray devices and metal detectors. 

For flights within the United States, basic security measures include
the use of walk-through metal detectors for passengers and X-ray
screening of carry-on baggage--measures that were primarily designed
to avert hijackings during the 1970s and 1980s, as opposed to the
more current threat of attacks by terrorists that involve explosive
devices.  These measures are augmented by additional procedures that
are based on an assessment of risk.  Among these procedures are
passenger profiling and passenger-bag matching.\2

Because the threat of terrorism had previously been considered
greater overseas, FAA mandated more stringent security measures for
international flights.  Currently, for all international flights, FAA
requires U.S.  carriers, at a minimum, to implement the International
Civil Aviation Organization's standards that include the inspection
of carry-on bags and passenger-bag matching.\3 FAA also requires
additional, more stringent measures--including interviewing
passengers that meet certain criteria, screening every checked bag,
and screening carry-on baggage--at all airports in Europe and the
Middle East and many airports elsewhere. 

In the aftermath of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, a
Presidential Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism was
established to examine the nation's aviation security system.  This
commission reported that the system was seriously flawed and failed
to provide the flying public with adequate protection.  FAA's
security reviews, audits prepared by the Department of
Transportation's Office of the Inspector General, and work we have
conducted show that the system continues to be flawed. 

Providing effective security is a complex problem because of the size
of the U.S.  aviation system, the differences among airlines and
airports, and the unpredictable nature of terrorism.  In our previous
reports and testimonies on aviation security, we highlighted a number
of vulnerabilities in the overall security system, such as checked
and carry-on baggage, mail, and cargo.  We also raised concerns about
unauthorized individuals gaining access to critical parts of an
airport and the potential use of sophisticated weapons, such as
surface-to-air missiles, against commercial aircraft.  According to
FAA officials, more recent concerns include smuggling bombs aboard
aircraft in carry-on bags and on passengers themselves. 

Specific information on the vulnerabilities of the nation's aviation
security system is classified and cannot be detailed here, but we can
provide you with unclassified information.  Nearly every major aspect
of the system--ranging from the screening of passengers, checked and
carry-on baggage, mail, and cargo as well as access to secured areas
within airports and aircraft--has weaknesses that terrorists could
exploit.  FAA believes that the greatest threat to aviation is
explosives placed in checked baggage.  For those bags that are
screened, we reported in March 1996 that conventional X-ray screening
systems (comprising the machine and operator who interprets the image
on the X-ray screen) have performance limitations and offer little
protection against a moderately sophisticated explosive device.  In
our August 1996 classified report, we provided details on the
detection rates of current systems as measured by numerous FAA tests
that have been conducted over the last several years. 

In 1993, the Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector
General also reported weaknesses in security measures dealing with
(1) access to restricted airport areas by unauthorized persons and
(2) carry-on baggage.  A follow-on review in 1996 indicated that
these weaknesses continue to persist and have not significantly

\2 Passenger profiling is a method of identifying potentially
threatening passengers who are then subjected to additional security
measures.  Passenger-bag matching is a procedure used by air carriers
to ensure that a passenger who checks a bag also boards the flight;
if the passenger does not board, the bag is removed. 

\3 The International Civil Aviation Organization is a United Nations
organization that develops standards and recommends practices for
aviation safety and security. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3

New explosives detection technology will play an important part in
improving security, but it is not a panacea.  In response to the
Aviation Security Improvement Act of 1990, FAA accelerated its
efforts to develop explosives detection technology.  A number of
devices are now commercially available to address some
vulnerabilities.  Since fiscal year 1991, FAA has invested over $150
million in developing technologies specifically designed to detect
concealed explosives.  (See table 1.) FAA relies primarily on
contracts and grants with private companies and research institutions
to develop these technologies and engages in some limited in-house
research.  The act specifically directed FAA to develop and deploy
explosives detection systems by November 1993.  However, this goal
has not been met. 

                                Table 1
                   FAA's Expenditures for Developing
                  Explosives Detection Technology, by
                              Fiscal Year

                         (Dollars in millions)

Fiscal year                                                Expenditure
----------------------------------------  ----------------------------
1991                                                             $22.4
1992                                                              27.1
1993                                                              26.7
1994                                                              24.2
1995                                                              23.6
1996\a                                                            29.3
Total                                                           $153.3
\a The 1996 funding level is an estimate as of June 1996. 

Source:  FAA. 

Since fiscal year 1991, these expenditures have funded approximately
85 projects for developing new explosives detection technology. 
Currently, FAA has 40 active development projects.  Of these, 19
projects are developing explosives detection prototype systems.  The
remaining 21 projects are conducting basic research or developing
components for use in explosives detection systems. 

In September 1993, FAA published a certification standard that
explosives detection systems for checked bags must meet before they
are deployed.  The standard is classified and sets certain minimum
performance criteria.\4 To minimize human error, the standard also
requires that the devices automatically sound an alarm when
explosives are suspected; this feature is in contrast to currently
used conventional X-ray devices, whereby the operator has to look at
the X-ray screen for each bag to determine whether it contains a
threat.  In 1994, we reported that FAA had made little progress in
meeting the law's requirement for deploying explosives detection
systems because of technical problems, such as slow baggage
processing.  As of today, one system has passed FAA's certification
standard and is being operationally tested by U.S.  airlines at two
U.S.  airports and one foreign location. 

Explosives detection devices can substantially improve the airlines'
ability to detect concealed explosives before they are brought aboard
aircraft.  While most of these technologies are still in development,
a number of devices are now commercially available.  However, none of
the commercially available devices are without limitations.  On the
basis of our analysis, we have three overall observations on
detection technologies. 

  -- First, these devices vary in their ability to detect the types,
     quantities, and shapes of explosives. 

  -- Second, explosives detection devices typically produce a number
     of false alarms that must be resolved either by human
     intervention or technical means.  These false alarms occur
     because the devices use various technologies to identify
     characteristics, such as shapes, densities, and other
     properties, to indicate a potential explosive.  Given the huge
     volume of passengers, bags, and cargo processed by the average
     major U.S.  airport, even relatively modest false alarm rates
     could cause several hundreds, even thousands, of items per day
     to need additional scrutiny. 

  -- Third, and most important, these devices ultimately depend upon
     human beings to resolve alarms.  This activity can range from
     closer inspection of a computer image and a judgment call to a
     hand search of the item in question.  The ultimate detection of
     explosives depends on extra steps being taken by security
     personnel--or their arriving at the correct judgment--to
     determine whether an explosive is present.  Because many of the
     devices' alarms signify only the potential for explosives being
     present, the true detection of explosives requires human
     intervention.  The higher the false alarm rate, the greater is
     the system's need to rely on human judgment.  As we noted in our
     previous reports, this reliance could be a weak link in the
     explosives detection process.  In addition, relying on human
     judgments has implications for the selection and training of
     operators for new equipment. 

Despite the limitations of the currently available technology, some
countries have already deployed some explosives detection equipment
because of differences in their perception of the threat and their
approaches to counter the threat.  The Gore Commission recommends
that $161 million in federal funds be used to deploy some of these
devices.  It has also recommended that decisions about deploying
equipment be based on vulnerability assessments of the nation's 450
largest airports. 

\4 The certification standard sets minimum performance criteria for
(1) the explosive substances to be detected; (2) the probability of
detection, by explosive; (3) the quantity of explosive; and (4) the
number of bags processed per hour.  In addition, the standard
specifies the maximum allowable false alarm rate, by explosive. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3.1

A number of explosives detection devices are currently available or
under development to determine whether explosives are present in
checked and carry-on baggage or on passengers, but they are costly. 
FAA is still developing systems to screen cargo and mail at airports. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3.2

Four explosives detection devices with automatic alarms are
commercially available for checked bags, but only one has met FAA's
certification standard--the CTX-5000.  FAA's preliminary estimates
are that the one-time acquisition and installation costs of the
certified system for the 75 busiest airports in the United States
could range from $400 million to $2.2 billion, depending on the
number of machines installed.  These estimates do not include
operating costs.  The four devices rely on three different

  -- The CTX-5000 is a computerized tomography device, which is based
     on advances made in the medical field.  It has the best overall
     detection ability but is relatively slow in processing bags and
     has the highest price.  To meet FAA's standard for processing
     bags, two devices are required, which would cost approximately
     $2 million for a screening station.  This system was certified
     by FAA in December 1994. 

  -- Two other advanced X-ray devices have lower detection capability
     but are faster at processing baggage and cheaper--costing
     approximately $350,000 to $400,000 each. 

  -- The last device uses electromagnetic radiation.  It offers
     chemical-specific detection capabilities but only for some of
     the explosives specified in FAA's standard.  The current price
     is about $340,000 each. 

FAA is funding the development of next-generation devices based on
computerized tomography, which is currently used in the CTX-5000. 
These devices are being designed to meet FAA's standard for detecting
explosives at faster processing speeds; the target price is about
$500,000 each, and they could be available by early 1998.  Advanced
X-ray devices with improved capabilities are also being developed. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3.3

Explosives detection devices are commercially available for screening
carry-on bags, electronics, and other items but not yet for screening
bottles or containers that could hold liquid explosives.  Devices for
liquids, however, may be commercially available within a few years. 

Carry-on bags and electronics.  At least five manufacturers sell
devices that can detect the residue or vapor from explosives on the
exterior of carry-on bags and on electronic items, such as computers
or radios.  These devices, also known as "sniffers," are commonly
referred to as "trace" detectors and range in price from about
$30,000 to $170,000 each.  They have very specific detection
capabilities as well as low false alarm rates.  One drawback to trace
devices, among others, is nuisance alarms.  The alarms on these
devices could be activated by persons who have legitimate reasons for
handling explosive substances, such as military personnel. 

An electromagnetic device is also available that offers a high
probability of chemical-specific detection but only for some
explosives.  The price is about $65,000. 

Detecting liquid explosives.  FAA is developing two different
electromagnetic systems for screening bottles and other containers. 
A development issue is processing speed.  These devices may be
available within 2 years.  The cost is projected to be between
$25,000 and $125,000 each. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3.4

Although a number of commercially available trace devices could be
used on passengers if deemed necessary, passengers might find their
physical intrusiveness unacceptable.  In June 1996, the National
Research Council, for example, reported that there may be a number of
health, legal, operational, privacy, and convenience concerns about
passenger-screening devices.  FAA and other federal agencies are
developing devices that passengers may find more acceptable.  FAA
estimates that the cost to provide about 3,000 of these devices to
screen passengers would be about $1.9 billion. 

  -- A number of trace devices in development will detect residue or
     vapor from explosives on passengers' hands.  Two devices screen
     either documents or tokens that have been handled by passengers. 
     These devices should be available in 1997 or 1998 and sell for
     approximately $65,000 to $85,000 each. 

  -- Another five devices under development use walk-through
     screening portals similar to current metal detectors.  Three
     will use trace technology to detect particles and vapor from
     explosives on passengers' clothing or in the air surrounding
     their bodies.  Projected selling prices range from approximately
     $170,000 to $300,000.  One of these devices will be tested at an
     airport in the latter part of 1996, and another device may
     undergo airport testing next year. 

  -- Two other walk-through portals based on electromagnetic
     technology are in development.  Rather than detecting particles
     or vapor, these devices will show images of items concealed
     under passengers' clothing.  Prices are projected to be
     approximately $100,000 to $200,000. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3.5

Screening cargo and mail at airports is difficult because individual
packages or pieces of mail are usually batched into larger shipments
that are more difficult to screen.  If cargo and mail shipments were
broken down into smaller packages, some available technologies could
be used.  For example, the electromagnetic device available for
checked baggage will be tested for screening cargo and mail at a U.S. 
airport.  Although not yet commercially available, two different
systems for detecting explosives in large containers are being
developed by FAA and other federal agencies.  Each system draws vapor
and particle samples and uses trace technology to analyze them.  One
system is scheduled for testing in 1997. 

In addition, FAA is considering, for further development, three
nuclear-based technologies originally planned for checked-bag
screening for use on cargo and mail.  These technologies use large,
heavy apparatuses to generate gamma rays or neutrons to penetrate
larger items.  However, they require shielding for safety reasons. 
These technologies are not as far along and are still in the
laboratory development stage rather than the prototype development
stage.  If fully developed, these devices could cost as much as $2
million to $5 million each. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3.6

To reduce the effects of an in-flight explosion, FAA is conducting
research on blast-resistant containers, which might reduce the number
of expensive explosives detection systems needed.  FAA's tests have
demonstrated that it is feasible to contain the effects--blast and
fragments--of an internal explosion.  However, because of their size,
blast-resistant containers can be used only on wide-body aircraft
that typically fly international routes.  FAA is working with a joint
industry-government consortium to address concerns about the cost,
weight, and durability of the new containers and is planning to blast
test several prototype containers later this year.  Also this year,
FAA will place about 20 of these containers into airline operations
to assess, among other things, their durability and effect on airline

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3.7

In addition to technology-based security, FAA has other methods that
it uses, and can expand upon, to augment domestic aviation security
or use in combination with technology to reduce the workload required
by detection devices.  The Gore Commission has recommended expanded
use of bomb-sniffing dogs, profiling passengers to identify those
needing additional attention, and matching passengers with their

Dogs are considered a unique type of trace detector because they can
be trained to respond in specific ways to the smell of explosives. 
Dogs are currently being used at a number of U.S.  airports.  The
Gore Commission has recommended that 114 additional teams of dogs and
their handlers be deployed at a cost of about $9 million. 

On July 25, 1996, the President announced additional measures for
international and domestic flights that include, among other things,
stricter controls over checked baggage and cargo as well as
additional inspections of aircraft.  Two procedures that are
routinely used on many international flights are passenger profiling
and passenger-bag matching.  FAA officials have said that profiling
can reduce the number of passengers and bags that require additional
security measures by as much as 80 percent.  The Gore Commission has
recommended several initiatives to promote an automated profiling
system.  In addition, to determine the best way to implement
systemwide matching of passengers with their bags, the Gore
Commission has recommended testing techniques at selected airports. 

Profiling and bag matching are unable to address certain types of
threats.  However, in the absence of sufficient or effective
technology, these procedures are a valuable part of the overall
security system.  FAA has estimated that incorporating bag matching
in everyday security measures could cost up to $2 billion in start-up
costs and lost revenue.  The direct costs to airlines include, among
other things, equipment, staffing, and training.  The airlines'
revenues and operations could be affected differently because the
airlines currently have different capabilities to implement bag
matching, different route structures, and different periods of time
allotted between connecting flights. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4

Addressing the vulnerabilities in the nation's aviation security
system is an urgent national issue.  Although the Gore Commission
made recommendations on September 9, no agreement currently exists
among all the key players, namely, the Congress, the
administration--specifically FAA and the intelligence community,
among others--and the aviation industry, on the steps necessary to
improve security in the short and long term to meet the threat.  In
addition, who will be responsible in the long term for paying for new
security initiatives has not been addressed.  While FAA has increased
security at domestic airports on a temporary basis, FAA and
Department of Transportation officials believe that more permanent
changes are needed.  Furthermore, the cost of these changes will be
significant, may require changes in how airlines and airports
operate, and will likely have an impact on the flying public.  To
achieve these permanent changes, three initiatives that are under way
may assist in developing a consensus among all interested parties on
the appropriate direction and response to meet the ever-increasing

On July 17, 1996, FAA established a joint government-industry working
group under its Aviation Security Advisory Committee.  The committee,
composed of representatives from FAA, the National Security Council,
the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
the Departments of Defense and State, the Office of Management and
Budget, and the aviation community, will (1) review the threat to
aviation, (2) examine vulnerabilities, (3) develop options for
improving security, (4) identify and analyze funding options, and (5)
identify the legislative, executive, and regulatory actions needed. 
The goal is to provide the FAA Administrator with a final report by
October 16, 1996.  Any national policy issues would then be referred
to the President by the FAA Administrator through the Secretary of

In recognition of the increased threat of terrorism in general, the
President established a Commission on Critical Infrastructure
Protection on July 15, 1996.  Moreover, with respect to the specific
threat against civil aviation, in the aftermath of the TWA flight 800
crash, the President established a commission headed by the Vice
President on July 25, 1996, to review aviation safety, security, and
the pace of modernization of the air traffic control system.  The
Gore Commission is working with the National Transportation Safety
Board, the Departments of Transportation and Justice, aviation
industry advisory groups, and concerned nongovernmental
organizations.  In our August 1, 1996, testimony before the Senate
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, we emphasized the
importance of informing the American public of and involving them in
this effort.  Furthermore, we recommended that the following steps be
taken immediately: 

  -- Conduct a comprehensive review of the safety and security of all
     major domestic and international airports and airlines to
     identify the strengths and weaknesses of their procedures to
     protect the traveling public. 

  -- Identify vulnerabilities in the system. 

  -- Establish priorities to address the system's identified

  -- Develop a short-term approach with immediate actions to correct
     significant security weaknesses. 

  -- Develop a long-term and comprehensive national strategy that
     combines new technology, procedures, and better training for
     security personnel. 

The Gore Commission was charged with reporting its initial findings
on aviation security in 45 days, including plans (1) to deploy new
technology to detect the most sophisticated explosives and (2) to pay
for that technology.  We are pleased that the Gore Commission's
September 9, 1996, report contains many recommendations similar to
those we made.  The commission recommended a budget amendment for
fiscal year 1997 of about $430 million to implement some of the 20
recommendations made in the report.  However, the commission stated
that it did not settle the issue of how security costs will be
financed in the long run.  The commission will continue to review
aviation safety, security, and air traffic control modernization over
the next several months and is scheduled to issue its final report by
February 1, 1997.  Given the urgent need to improve aviation security
and FAA's less-than-effective history of addressing long-standing
safety and security concerns, it will be important for the Congress
to oversee the implementation of new security measures once they are
agreed upon.  Therefore, we believe that Congress should establish
goals and performance measures and require periodic reports from FAA
and other responsible federal agencies on the progress and
effectiveness of efforts to improve aviation security. 

To sustain the Gore Commission's momentum and its development of
long-term actions to improve aviation security, we concluded in our
classified August 1996 report that the Commission should be supported
by staff composed of the best available government and industry
experts on terrorism and civil aviation security.  We recommended the

  -- In view of the short time frame for the Gore Commission and the
     expertise within FAA's Aviation Security Advisory Committee's
     working group, both groups should be melded together.  The Vice
     President should make the necessary arrangements for detailing
     the working group to the Gore Commission. 

  -- The Vice President should not restrict the purview of the
     working group's proposed solutions to those within FAA's
     jurisdiction but should also include proposed solutions within
     the intelligence and law enforcement communities' purview that
     relate to aviation security. 

  -- Because aviation security is an urgent issue, the President
     should report to the Congress, during the current congressional
     session, recommendations on statutory changes that may be
     required, including who should pay for additional security
     measures, whether aviation security should be considered a
     national security issue, and whether changes are needed in the
     requirement for FAA certification of explosives detection
     technology before mandating its deployment. 

In addition, we also stated that the Congress may wish to enact
legislation during the current legislative session addressing such
matters as who should pay for additional security, whether aviation
security is a national security issue, and whether the requirement
for FAA certification for explosive detection devices should be

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.1

In summary, Mr.  Chairman, the threat of terrorism has been an
international issue for some time and continues to be, as illustrated
by events such as the bombing in Saudi Arabia of U.S.  barracks.  But
other incidents, such as the bombings of the World Trade Center in
New York and the federal building in Oklahoma City--have made
terrorism a domestic as well as an international issue.  Public
concern about aviation safety, in particular, has already been
heightened as a result of the ValuJet crash, and the recent TWA
flight 800 crash--regardless of the cause--has increased that
concern.  If further incidents occur, public fear and anxiety will
escalate, and the economic well-being of the aviation industry will
suffer because of reductions in travel and the shipment of goods. 

Given the persistence of long-standing vulnerabilities and the
increased threat to civil aviation, we believe corrective actions
need to be undertaken immediately.  These actions need a unified
effort from the highest levels of the government to address this
national issue.  With three separate initiatives under way, the Vice
President could be the focal point to build a consensus on the
actions that need to be taken to address a number of these
long-standing vulnerabilities.  The Gore Commission's September 9,
1996, report to the President provides opportunities for agreement on
steps to improve security that could be taken in the short term. 

*** End of document. ***