Transportation Security Administration



GAO: TSA Does Not Have Valid Evidence Supporting Most of the Revised Behavioral Indicators Used in Its Behavior Detection Activities

July 2017

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not have valid evidence that most of the revised behavioral indicators (28 of 36) used in its behavior detection activities can be used to identify individuals who may pose a threat to aviation security. GAO defined valid evidence as original research that meets generally accepted research standards and presents evidence that is applicable in supporting the specific behavioral indicators in TSA's revised list. Original research sources presenting valid evidence are important because the data and conclusions they present are derived from empirical research that can be replicated and evaluated. In GAO's review of all 178 sources TSA cited as support for its revised list, GAO found that 98 percent (175 of 178) of the sources do not provide valid evidence that is applicable to the specific behavioral indicators TSA cited them as supporting. Report




DHS OIG: TSA’s Human Capital Services Contract Terms and Oversight Need Strengthening 

January 2016

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) awarded a human capital services contract valued at $1.2 billion. OIG conducted this audit to determine the extent to which TSA is effectively monitoring and enforcing the terms and conditions of the contract. 

TSA’s oversight of the HR Access contract needs improvement. Specifically, TSA has limited options for holding the contractor accountable for performance deficiencies. There were instances in which TSA did not hold the contractor monetarily accountable for personally identifiable information (PII) violations. Had TSA consistently applied the terms and conditions of the contract, the agency could have saved approximately $4.2 million.  

dditionally, TSA needs to improve its assessment and monitoring of contractor performance. TSA inflates performance evaluation scores, and those scores are not consistently affected by poor performance. Had TSA not inflated performance scores and given the contractor positive scores for work that was not completed, the agency could have saved approximately $350,000 in performance awards paid. 

TSA’s lack of contract oversight resulted in performance awards that do not accurately reflect performance. In addition, award fees, totaling $4.5 million, may not be justified, and TSA has no assurance it received the best value for its money. Report




DHS OIG: Transportation Security Administration Office of Inspection’s Efforts To Enhance

September 2013

The Office of Inspection in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) conducts inspections, internal reviews, and covert testing to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of TSA's operations and administrative activities, and to identify vulnerabilities in TSA security systems. The Office of Inspection did not operate efficiently. Specifically, the office did not use its staff and resources efficiently to conduct cost‐effective inspections, internal reviews, and covert testing.  

As a result of these issues with the office’s costeffectiveness and quality controls over its work products, TSA was not as effective as it could have been, and management may not be able to rely on the office’s work. If TSA does not make any changes to the number of criminal investigator positions, OIG estimates that it will cost as much as $17.5 million over 5 years for premium Law Enforcement Availability Pay. Report

Media Coverage

Homeland Security TodayTSA's Failure To Address IG's Concerns May Create Security Gaps; Agency Says Holes Are Being Plugged


DHS OIG: Transportation Security Administration’s Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques 

May 2013

OIG audited the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques program. The program’s intent is to screen passengers by observing their behavior in order to detect potential high-risk travelers. 

Since the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques program began in 2007, data provided by TSA indicate that the program has expended an estimated $878 million and has more than 2,800 full-time equivalent positions, as of September 30, 2012. However, TSA has not implemented a strategic plan to ensure the program’s success. As a result, TSA cannot ensure that passengers at United States airports are screened objectively, show that the program is cost-effective, or reasonably justify the program’s expansion. Report