Index


Aviation Security: FAA's Actions To Study Responsibilities and Funding
for Airport Security and To Certify Screening Companies (Letter Report,
02/25/99, GAO/RCED-99-53).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the
Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) efforts to implement the Federal
Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996, focusing on: (1) the status of
FAA's efforts to implement the requirement of section 301 of the act
mandating that FAA conduct a study and report to Congress on whether
aviation security responsibilities should be transferred from the
airline carriers to airports or the federal government; (2) the status
of FAA's efforts to implement section 302 mandating that FAA certify
security screening companies and improve the training and testing of
security screeners through the development of performance standards; and
(3) issues that could impede FAA's implementation of section 302.

GAO noted that: (1) FAA issued the report required by section 301 of the
Reauthorization Act on January 5 1999, about 2 years after the date
mandated in the act; (2) the report concludes that there should be no
change to the current system of shared aviation security
responsibilities among FAA, the air carriers, and the airport operators
or to the current funding sources for aviation security; (3) FAA's
conclusions are based on the lack of any consensus in the civil aviation
community for changes; (4) to comply with the requirements of section
302, FAA is developing a proposed regulation, which would require the
certification of screening companies; (5) the proposed regulation would
require screening companies and air carriers to comply with uniform
performance standards for screeners and implement FAA-approved training
and testing programs for screeners; (6) a critical step in the
certification of screening companies is having a reliable and consistent
way to measure the screening companies' performance; (7) in January
1999, FAA, after several delays, validated that its automated screener
testing system is an accurate measurement of screener's performance; (8)
over the next several months, FAA will gather additional data for use in
developing performance standards for screeners; (9) the agency plans to
issue a final regulation in late 2000; (10) the aviation industry
generally agrees that national standards for security-screening
operations are needed; (11) several issues could impede the issuance of
the final regulation; and (12) for example, the completion of FAA's
validation process had been delayed several times and any further delays
with completing FAA's current efforts could affect the issuance of the
final regulation.

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

 REPORTNUM:  RCED-99-53
     TITLE:  Aviation Security: FAA's Actions To Study Responsibilities 
             and Funding for Airport Security and To Certify
             Screening Companies
      DATE:  02/25/99
   SUBJECT:  Transportation safety
             Safety standards
             Facility security
             Safety regulation
             Airline industry
             Reporting requirements
             Airports
             Funds management
             Accident prevention
             Performance measures
IDENTIFIER:  FAA Airport Improvement Program
             FAA Threat Image Projection System
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to Congressional Committees and Subcommittees

February 1999

AVIATION SECURITY - FAA'S ACTIONS
TO STUDY RESPONSIBILITIES AND
FUNDING FOR AIRPORT SECURITY AND
TO CERTIFY SCREENING COMPANIES

GAO/RCED-99-53

Aviation Security

(348109)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  AAAE - American Association of Airport Executives
  ACI-NA - Airports Council International-North America
  ATA - Air Transport Association
  FAA - Federal Aviation Administration
  TIP - Threat Image Projection

Letter
=============================================================== LETTER


B-280885

February 25, 1999

Congressional Committees and Subcommittees

After the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, the Congress
focused its attention on increasing aviation security, which
culminated in the passage of the Aviation Security Improvement Act of
1990.  Congressional interest was renewed in 1996 by the still
unexplained crash of TWA Flight 800, which resulted in additional
efforts by the federal government to increase aviation security. 
These efforts included the establishment of the White House
Commission on Aviation Safety and Security in August 1996.  The
Commission's report, issued in February 1997, \1 made a number of
recommendations to improve aviation security.  In addition, two laws
were enacted--the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996 and
the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997\2 --which, among
other things, authorized and provided funding for the security
recommendations contained in the Commission's report. 

The Reauthorization Act required the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) to take specific actions to improve aviation security.  Section
301 mandated that FAA conduct a study and report to the Congress by
January 9, 1997, on whether and, if so, how to (1) transfer certain
federally required security responsibilities of air carriers to
either airports or the federal government or (2) provide for shared
responsibilities between air carriers and airport operators or the
federal government.  The Congress required that the report identify
potential sources of federal and nonfederal revenue that may be used
to fund security activities and propose legislation, if necessary,
for accomplishing the transfer of responsibilities.  Section 302 of
the act mandated that the FAA Administrator certify companies
providing security screening at airports and improve the training and
testing of security screeners\3 through the development of
performance standards.  This report provides information on (1) the
status of FAA's efforts to implement the requirements of section 301
of the act and (2) the status of FAA's efforts to implement section
302 and issues that could impede FAA's implementation of section 302. 


--------------------
\1 Final Report to President Clinton, White House Commission on
Aviation Safety and Security (Feb.  12, 1997). 

\2 The Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996 (P.L.  104-264)
was enacted on October 9, 1996, to reauthorize programs of the
Federal Aviation Administration and for other purposes.  The Omnibus
Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 (P.L.  104-208) was enacted
on September 30, 1996, and provided $144.2 million for the purchase
of commercially available advanced explosives detection equipment for
checked and carry-on baggage. 

\3 Screeners are air carriers' or screening companies' security staff
who examine all passengers and other persons and all property
intended to be carried in the cabin of airplanes or into controlled
areas to prevent any explosive, incendiary, or other deadly object or
dangerous weapon from being carried aboard airplanes or into
controlled areas. 


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1

FAA issued the report required by section 301 of the Reauthorization
Act in January 1999, about 2 years after the date mandated in the
act.\4 The report concludes that there should be no change to the
current system of shared aviation security responsibilities among
FAA, the air carriers, and the airport operators or to the current
funding sources for aviation security.  FAA's conclusions are based
on the lack of any consensus in the civil aviation community for
changes. 

To comply with the requirements of section 302, FAA is developing a
proposed regulation, which would require the certification of
screening companies.  The proposed regulation would require screening
companies and air carriers to comply with uniform performance
standards for screeners and implement FAA-approved training and
testing programs for screeners.  A critical step in the certification
of screening companies is having a reliable and consistent way to
measure the screening companies' performance.  In January 1999, FAA,
after several delays, validated that its automated screener testing
system is an accurate measurement of screeners' performance.  Over
the next several months, FAA will gather additional data for use in
developing performance standards for screeners.  The agency plans to
issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in late 1999 for comment and
issue a final regulation in late 2000.  The aviation industry
generally agrees that national standards for security-screening
operations are needed.  Several issues could impede the issuance of
the final regulation.  For example, the completion of FAA's
validation process had been delayed several times and any further
delays with completing FAA's current efforts could affect the
issuance of the final regulation. 


--------------------
\4 Study and Report to Congress on Aviation Security Responsibilities
and Funding, FAA (Jan.  5, 1999). 


   BACKGROUND
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2

FAA, the air carriers, and the airport operators share the
responsibilities for aviation security.  FAA is responsible for
assessing threats, such as terrorism, to the aviation system and
determining the procedures and equipment that will most effectively
deter these threats.  FAA's regulations prescribe the security
responsibilities of air carriers and airport operators.  The air
carriers and airport operators are responsible for complying with the
regulations and procedures.  The air carriers are responsible for
screening all passengers and baggage, hiring and training their
employees or contracting for screening services, and procuring
equipment to screen passengers and baggage.  The screening of
passengers and baggage is a critical element in FAA's strategy
against terrorism.  FAA's regulations provide basic standards for the
screeners, equipment, and procedures to be used in screening
operations.  The airport operators are responsible for providing
secure airport facilities and providing local law enforcement support
relating to air carrier and airport security measures. 

The funding of the security operations is divided among FAA, the air
carriers, and the airport operators.  FAA is responsible for paying
the salaries and costs associated with its oversight of air carrier
and airport security programs, including security inspections of
screening operations at airports, and for aviation security research
and development activities.  FAA's aviation security budget for
fiscal year 1999 includes $100 million for purchasing and deploying
advanced explosives detection equipment to selected airports, $52
million for research and development, and $123 million for
operations.  Air carriers are responsible for paying for the security
personnel and checkpoint screeners, screening equipment, such as
X-ray machines and metal detectors, and the operation and maintenance
costs of that equipment.  Airport operators are responsible for
paying for law enforcement officers, access control systems, and
perimeter fences and lighting.  Currently, airport operators can fund
certain security functions, such as perimeter fencing, with funds
from FAA's Airport Improvement Program.\5

Both the White House Commission and the Congress recognized the need
to improve screeners' performance.  The Commission's initial report
in September 1996 made 20 specific recommendations for improving
security, one of which was the development of uniform standards for
the selection, training, certification, and recertification of
screening companies and their employees.\6 Following this report, the
Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act mandated that FAA (1) study and
report on the current security responsibilities at airports and the
potential sources of funding for these activities, (2) certify
screening companies, and (3) improve the training and testing of
security screeners through the development of performance standards
for security-screening services.  While FAA currently has training
and testing requirements for screeners, it does not have a
requirement that screening companies be certified. 


--------------------
\5 FAA's Airport Improvement Program provides federal funding for
planning and development at the 3,300 airports that make up the
national airport system. 

\6 These recommendations were also contained in the Final Report to
President Clinton, White House Commission on Aviation Safety and
Security (Feb.  12, 1997). 


   SECTION 301 REPORT ISSUED IN
   JANUARY 1999
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3

FAA issued the report required under section 301 of the
Reauthorization Act of 1996 on January 5, 1999, about 2 years after
the date mandated in the act.  FAA's report concludes that there
should be no change to the current system of shared aviation security
responsibilities among FAA, the air carriers, and the airport
operators or to the current funding sources for aviation security. 


      REPORT ISSUED 2 YEARS LATE
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.1

FAA did not meet the January 9, 1997, deadline established by section
301 of the Reauthorization Act for submitting its report to the
Congress.  In a letter dated January 21, 1997, FAA informed the
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that because
the act directed FAA to consider the findings of the White House
Commission on Aviation Safety and Security and because of the time
required to complete analytical work, FAA was unable to meet the
January 9, 1997, deadline and expected to release its report in April
1997.  The report was delivered to the Congress in January 1999. 

FAA officials said the report was delayed because of the complex
issues involved and the need to consider the findings of numerous
groups that have studied these issues.  FAA's report is based, in
part, on an 8-year-old internal FAA study that analyzed alternatives
for shifting security responsibilities with respect to passengers,
baggage, and cargo from the air carriers to airport operators.\7 The
study is appended to the report.  FAA also reviewed other reports,
including reports from the President's Commission on Aviation
Security and Terrorism,\8 the White House Commission on Aviation
Safety and Security,\9 the National Civil Aviation Review
Commission,\10 and Coopers & Lybrand.\11

In addition, FAA conducted a literature search and reviewed testimony
provided for the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and
Security and various congressional hearings on aviation security. 


--------------------
\7 FAA Study on Security Responsibilities (1991). 

\8 Report of the President's Commission on Aviation Security and
Terrorism (May 15, 1990). 

\9 See footnote 1. 

\10 Avoiding Aviation Gridlock & Reducing the Accident Rate, A
Consensus for Change (Dec.  1997).  The Federal Aviation
Reauthorization Act of 1996 established the National Civil Aviation
Review Commission and required a report to the Secretary of
Transportation setting forth a comprehensive analysis of the
Administration's budgetary requirements through 2002. 

\11 Federal Aviation Administration:  Independent Financial
Assessment, Coopers & Lybrand (Feb.  28, 1997).  The Federal Aviation
Reauthorization Act of 1996 required FAA to contract with an
independent entity to conduct a complete independent assessment of
the financial requirements of the agency through 2002. 


      NO CONSENSUS FOR CHANGING
      SECURITY RESPONSIBILITIES OR
      FUNDING SOURCES
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.2

FAA's report considered the views of the various commissions and
other parties that studied or commented on transferring air carriers'
security responsibilities to the airport operators or to the federal
government, or for sharing responsibilities among the air carriers,
the airport operators, and the federal government.  The report also
considered the Commissions' and other parties' views on potential
sources of funding for aviation security, such as the Airport
Improvement Program, Passenger Facility Charges,\12 and user fees. 
The report points out that the source of security funding has been a
matter of continuing controversy over the last 30 years. 

FAA concluded that there appears to be a consensus in the civil
aviation community to retain the current system of shared
responsibilities for aviation security.  Therefore, FAA would
continue to be responsible for establishing and enforcing
regulations, policies, and procedures and for identifying potential
threats and appropriate countermeasures.  Air carriers would bear the
primary responsibility for applying screening and other security
measures to passengers, baggage, and cargo.  Airport operators would
be responsible for maintaining a secure airport environment and for
providing local law enforcement support. 

FAA also concluded that there is no apparent consensus for changing
the overall system of funding for aviation security and that there is
no definitive answer to the long-standing question of who should pay
for aviation security.  FAA therefore did not make any legislative
proposals for transferring security responsibilities from air
carriers or any recommendations for changing funding sources.  FAA
officials, however, stated that even though the report made no
recommendations regarding funding sources for aviation security, this
issue will continue to need discussion and study because of its high
cost.  FAA estimated in May 1997 that the total 10-year cost to the
federal government, airport authorities, and the airlines for
security programs at the nation's largest and busiest airports alone
would be close to $3 billion.  Thus, funding methods for aviation
security improvements is an issue that the Congress and FAA will be
faced with for a number of years. 

Officials of three principal aviation industry associations that we
contacted--Air Transport Association (ATA),\13 Airports Council
International-North America (ACI-NA),\14 and American Association of
Airport Executives (AAAE)\15 --generally agreed with the current
division of airport security responsibilities.  These officials
stated that the continuity of screening would be broken if the air
carriers were not the ultimate responsible party.  For example, under
current procedures, if a passenger is identified as a potential
threat at the airport check-in or ticket counter, the air carrier
will label the passenger's bag appropriately and that air carrier
will take additional security measures for examining the passenger's
bag, such as sending the bag through explosives detection equipment. 
Under any scenario where the carrier is not responsible for all
screening operations, the air carrier would have to transfer the
information about the potential security threat to another entity,
such as the airport operator, and then that entity would further
scrutinize the passenger's bag.  This would disrupt the continuity of
the baggage-screening process and allow for a potential break in the
chain of information. 

The associations expressed differing views with regard to funding
aviation security.  Two of the associations--ACI-NA and AAAE--believe
that the federal government should provide the initial funding for
any increase in the baseline security standards and then, through the
use of increased Airport Improvement Program funding and an expanded
local funding mechanism, namely the Passenger Facility Charge, the
airport users would have a greater ability to raise funds for the
increased security.  However, the third association, ATA, does not
support an increased Passenger Facility Charge for security
improvements at airports.  ATA believes that the funding for
explosives-detection-screening equipment should be provided under
direct federal appropriations and not from Airport Improvement
Program funds and Passenger Facility Charges. 


--------------------
\12 A Passenger Facility Charge is a fee imposed by airport
authorities on passengers to be used to fund capital development. 

\13 ATA is the trade organization for the principal U.S.  air
carriers. 

\14 ACI-NA represents airport operators who operate about 1,250
airports across 155 countries and territories. 

\15 AAAE is a professional organization representing airport
management personnel at public use airports nationwide. 


   LENGTHY PROCESS INVOLVED FOR
   IMPLEMENTING THE SECTION 302
   REQUIREMENT FOR CERTIFYING
   SCREENING COMPANIES
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4

FAA is developing a regulation to comply with the mandated section
302 requirements to certify screening companies and improve the
training and testing of security screeners.  FAA expects the final
regulation to be issued in late 2000.  While the aviation industry
generally agrees that national standards for security-screening
operations are needed, some issues could impede the final
regulation's issuance. 


      FAA'S EFFORTS TO COMPLY WITH
      SECTION 302
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.1

FAA plans to issue a new regulation that would establish the
requirements for certifying screening companies.\16 One of the
requirements for certification would compel screening companies and
air carriers to comply with the performance standards that would be
established by FAA and to implement FAA-approved training and testing
programs for screeners.  As the first step toward issuing a
regulation, FAA, on March 11, 1997, issued an Advance Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking requesting comments and suggestions on issues
related to the certification of screening companies and the
improvement of screening operations.  FAA identified 10 issues of
particular interest.  They included the establishment, by regulation,
of a uniform security-screening program for use by all air carriers
and screening companies, methods for measuring screeners'
performance, and a curriculum for training screeners.  FAA also
sought comments on the estimated costs of meeting any qualification
or operational requirements that might be imposed.  (See app.  I for
a list of all the issues on which FAA requested comments.)

FAA recognizes that a critical step in the certification of screening
companies is having a reliable and consistent way to measure their
performance.  By collectively analyzing and measuring screener's
performance, FAA can hold screening companies accountable for safe,
effective screening operations.  FAA has focused its efforts on
developing, field testing, and validating an automated screener
testing-system called Threat Image Projection (TIP) which would
provide the basis for establishing and monitoring performance
standards for screening companies. 

TIP is an automated system that was developed to improve and maintain
the effectiveness of image interpretation by screening personnel
employed at screening locations in airports.  When installed on
existing X-ray machines at airport checkpoints, TIP tests screeners'
detection capabilities by projecting threat images, including guns
and explosives, into bags as they are being screened or projecting
images of bags containing threat objects onto the X-ray screen as
live baggage is being screened.\17 Screeners are then responsible for
positively identifying the threat image and calling for the bag to be
searched.  Once prompted, TIP indicates to the screener whether the
threat is real and then records the screener's performance in a
database that FAA can access to analyze performance trends.  TIP
exposes screeners to threat images on a routine basis to enable them
to become more adept at recognizing threat objects. 

In order to adequately field test and validate the proposed automated
screener-testing system--TIP--and to continue to collect and analyze
data to develop performance standards for screeners, FAA withdrew the
Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on May 13, 1998, and changed
the estimated issuance date of its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from
March 1999 to the end of 1999.  FAA expects to issue its final
regulation within 1 year of the closing of the comment period for the
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which would be by the end of 2000.  In
April 1998, we reported that FAA, at that time, planned to issue the
final regulation in March 2000, which was about a year behind its
previous estimated issuance date.\18

In February 1999, FAA officials told us that during January 1999,
they had analyzed the TIP data gathered to date and validated TIP as
an effective and reliable means to measure screeners' performance. 
The completion of this effort, previously projected for September
1998, had been delayed several times.  According to FAA, TIP's
validation process had been slowed because of one manufacturer's
slowness in bringing the equipment to an operating level.  In
addition, the validation of TIP had been further delayed by its
software, which did not provide enough unique identification numbers
for all screeners using TIP.  FAA has since corrected that problem. 
During the next several months, FAA will continue to gather larger
samples of TIP data that it can use to develop performance standards
for screeners. 


--------------------
\16 The proposed regulation would define a screening company as an
air carrier or other entity that inspects persons or property for the
presence of any unauthorized explosive, incendiary, deadly or
dangerous weapon, or destructive substances before entry into a
controlled area or carriage aboard an aircraft. 

\17 FAA will propose that TIP be installed initially on X-ray and
explosives-detection systems at all Category X and Category I
airports.  The installations at Category II through Category IV
airports would be phased in during subsequent years.  Screeners'
performance at these smaller airports, which, according to FAA
officials, account for only about 5 percent of the passengers
boarding planes, would be measured in the interim by existing and/or
enhanced checkpoint-testing procedures, including the use of special
testing and the random testing of screeners by air carriers and FAA. 
Category X airports represent the nation's largest and busiest
airports as measured by the volume of passenger traffic and are
potentially attractive targets for criminal and terrorist activity. 
Category I airports are somewhat smaller airports that have an annual
volume of at least 2 million passengers. 

\18 Aviation Security:  Implementation of Recommendations Is Under
Way, but Completion Will Take Several Years (GAO/RCED-98-102, Apr. 
24, 1998). 


      INDUSTRY'S VIEWS ON SECTION
      302
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.2

Our review of comments to the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
from air carriers, screening companies, airport operators, and
associations representing segments of the aviation industry showed
that most agreed that a national standard security-screener program
for screening companies should be established.  Many of the comments
also stated that certification for individual screeners should also
be required.  Several commenters believed that certification would
enhance screeners' performance and professionalism.  For example,
both AAAE and ACI-NA stated that FAA needs to develop a standard
training curriculum to certify individual screeners.  They stated
that FAA-certified screeners would then be invested with a valuable
and transferable skill and would be compensated accordingly.  FAA,
however, does not plan to require the certification of individual
screeners because it does not have statutory authority to do so but,
instead, will certify companies.  In addition, officials from ATA,
ACI-NA, and AAAE informed us that, in their opinion, all screening
companies who wish to be certified to perform aviation security
screening should be regulated by FAA, that FAA should develop a
minimum national standard security-screening program, and that FAA
should continue to perfect a consistent way to measure screening
companies' performance.  These actions are consistent with FAA's
proposed approach for certifying screening companies. 


      ISSUES THAT COULD IMPEDE
      ISSUANCE OF FINAL RULE
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.3

The Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996 allows FAA 16 months
from the close of the comment period of a Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking to publish the final regulation.  FAA plans to expedite
the process by publishing the final rule within 1 year of the closing
of the comment period, which would be at the end of 2000.  FAA
believes that it is important to implement the final regulation at
the earliest date possible to realize the performance improvements
expected to be brought about by the proposed certification
requirements, training requirements, and performance measurements and
standards.  However, several issues could impede FAA's efforts to
complete this undertaking. 

In addition to the TIP validation and data-gathering efforts
previously discussed, the human factors\19 staff in FAA's Office of
Aviation Research is conducting a sophisticated and long-term
evaluation using TIP to assess how such variables as screeners'
experience, method of training, checkpoint operating environment, and
shift lengths affect screeners' performance.  TIP is still in the
research and development stage; therefore, the Office of Aviation
Research developed a test and evaluation plan for TIP.\20 The effort
is expected to be completed by mid-1999.  This assessment could
identify issues regarding screeners' performance that would have to
be addressed and could potentially delay the issuance of the
regulation.  We have previously pointed out the importance of
internal coordination between human factors research programs and all
units within FAA in order to (1) understand the relationship between
human performance capabilities and limitations and the means to
measure them and (2) maximize the opportunity to leverage resources
for research on human factors.\21

In addition, FAA has identified other issues that must be addressed
before the final regulation can be issued, including (1) ensuring
that the costs of the rule will result in substantial screening
improvements and (2) establishing a balance of responsibilities
between carriers and screening companies that is clear and effective. 
FAA is preparing a cost and benefits analysis for inclusion in its
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on which interested parties will have
the opportunity to comment.  According to FAA, the costs for this
regulation could be relatively high, and it is imperative that the
regulation result in substantial measurable improvements to an
individual screener's performance, to screening companies'
operations, and in decreasing the aviation security system's
vulnerabilities. 

The issue of balanced responsibility involves how much responsibility
screening companies should assume and how air carriers should oversee
the operations of screening companies.  FAA recognizes that the
successful implementation of its proposed regulation will require it
to clearly outline this division of responsibility and create
enforcement guidance that will avoid any confusion regarding
accountability. 


--------------------
\19 The study of human factors examines how humans interact with
machines and other people and determines whether procedures and
regulations take into account abilities and limitations.  Identifying
chances for human error can reduce the need for later replacing or
modifying equipment and procedures. 

\20 Test and Evaluation Plan for Airport Demonstration for Threat
Image Projection for Checkpoint Operations (Aug.  1996). 

\21 Human Factors:  Status of Efforts to Integrate Research on Human
Factors Into FAA's Activities (GAO/RCED-96-151, June 27, 1996). 


   SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5

To determine the status of FAA's efforts to implement sections 301
and 302 of the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996, we
reviewed the legislation and other related documents, such as the
Final Report of the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and
Security.  We obtained FAA's implementation plans and status reports
and interviewed officials in FAA's Office of Civil Aviation Security
and the Office of Aviation Research.  Upon its issuance in January
1999, we obtained FAA's report to the Congress required by section
301 of the Reauthorization Act.  We obtained industry's views by
reviewing comments provided in response to the Advance Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking and by meeting with representatives of three
aviation associations:  ATA, ACI-NA, and the AAAE.  We conducted our
review from August 1998 through January 1999 in accordance with
generally accepted government auditing standards. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6

We provided the Department of Transportation and FAA with a draft of
this report for review and comment.  We met with agency officials,
including representatives of FAA's Office of Civil Aviation Security
Policy and Planning.  FAA generally agreed with the facts in the
report and provided updated information on its validation of the
Threat Image Projection system and some suggested clarifying
language, which we incorporated as appropriate. 


---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :6.1

As agreed with your offices, unless you publicly announce its
contents earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report
until 7 days from the date of this letter.  At that time, we will
send copies to interested congressional committees, the Secretary of
Transportation, and the Administrator of FAA.  We will make copies
available to others upon request. 

Major contributors to this report include A.  Donald Cowan, Robert J. 
Di Vito, and Barry R.  Kime.  Please call me on (202) 512-3650 if you
have any questions about the report. 

Gerald L.  Dillingham
Associate Director,
 Transportation Issues

List of Congressional Committees and Subcommittees

The Honorable John McCain
Chairman
The Honorable Ernest F.  Hollings
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Commerce, Science,
 and Transportation
United States Senate

The Honorable Slade Gorton
Chairman
The Honorable John D.  Rockefeller IV
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Aviation,
Committee on Commerce, Science,
 and Transportation
United States Senate


ISSUES ON WHICH FAA SOUGHT PUBLIC
COMMENT IN ITS ADVANCE NOTICE OF
PROPOSED RULEMAKING
=========================================================== Appendix I

1.  Oversight by Air Carriers:  Guidelines that an air carrier should
follow when selecting or overseeing a screening company. 

2.  Joint-Use Screening Locations:  Methods of structuring air
carriers' selection of a screening company for joint-use screening
locations and oversight of that screening company's activities. 

3.  Screening Security Program:  The regulatory establishment of a
uniform screening-security program for use by all carriers and
screening companies, the prevention of the unauthorized use of these
standards, and the establishment of performance standards for
screeners. 

4.  Screener Training:  Requirement to incorporate into each security
program the specific curriculum to be used for training screeners. 

5.  Qualifications and Operations of Screening Companies:  Minimum
standards for a screening company to be certified in the areas of
local and national qualifications, aviation-screening experience, and
screening and training equipment. 

6.  Individual Screeners:  Encouraging a stronger sense of
professionalism. 

7.  Screening by Air Carriers:  Whether screening by air carriers
should be subject to the same standards as certified screening
companies. 

8.  New Screening Companies:  Ensuring the qualifications of a
company that has no aviation screening experience before it begins
aviation screening. 

9.  Checkpoint Operational Configuration Deficiencies:  The
configuration of checkpoints for optimal screening conditions. 

10.  Foreign Air Carriers:  The regulation's application and impact
on foreign air carriers. 

RELATED GAO PRODUCTS

Aviation Security:  FAA's Deployments of Equipment to Detect Traces
of Explosives (GAO/RCED-99-32R, Nov.  13, 1998). 

Aviation Security:  Progress Being Made, but Long-Term Attention Is
Needed (GAO/T-RCED-98-190, May 14, 1998). 

Aviation Security:  Implementation of Recommendations Is Under Way,
but Completion Will Take Several Years (GAO/RCED-98-102, Apr.  24,
1998). 

Aviation Safety:  Weaknesses in Inspection and Enforcement Limit FAA
in Identifying and Responding to Risks (GAO/RCED-98-6, Feb.  27,
1998). 

Aviation Security:  FAA's Procurement of Explosives Detection Devices
(GAO/RCED-97-111R, May 1, 1997). 

Aviation Security:  Commercially Available Advanced Explosives
Detection Devices (GAO/RCED-97-ll9R, Apr.  24, 1997). 

Aviation Safety and Security:  Challenges to Implementing the
Recommendations of the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and
Security (GAO/T-RCED-97-90, Mar.  5, 1997). 

Aviation Security:  Technology's Role in Addressing Vulnerabilities
(GAO/T-RCED/NSIAD-96-262, Sept.  19, 1996). 

Aviation Security:  Urgent Issues Need to Be Addressed
(GAO/T-RCED/NSIAD-96-251, Sept.  11, 1996). 

Aviation Security:  Immediate Action Needed to Improve Security
(GAO/T-RCED/NSIAD-96-237, Aug.  1, 1996). 

Human Factors:  Status of Efforts to Integrate Research on Human
Factors Into FAA's Activities (GAO/RCED-96-151, June 27, 1996). 


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