Know those machines at airport security? TSA doesn’t even know if they work properly
A traveler, second from left, takes a position in front of a full-body scanner as Transportation Security Administration officers look on at Boston's Logan International Airport, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. There are new requirements at some U.S. airports that air passengers must pass through full-body scanners that produce a virtually naked image. Those who refuse to go through the scanners are subject to thorough pat-down. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The Transportation Safety Administration’s (TSA) lackluster oversight of maintenance of its security equipment means “the safety of airline passengers and aircraft could be jeopardized.”

That’s according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General that blasts the TSA for poor management of the maintenance program.

The inspector general’s report suggests the lack of oversight could shorten the lifespan of screening equipment aimed at preventing terrorism. Should that happen, TSA agents would have to resort to other screening measures, which could result in longer wait times and screening delays and also put the flying public at risk.

“TSA has not issued adequate policies and procedures to airports for carrying out equipment maintenance-related responsibilities,” the report reads. “Because TSA does not adequately oversee equipment maintenance, it cannot be assured that routine preventive maintenance is performed or that equipment is repaired and ready for operational use.”

The TSA screens roughly 1.8 million airline passengers and 1.2 million checked bags every day at 450 airports nationwide. The federal agency’s four contracts to cover preventive and corrective maintenance for out-of-warranty screening equipment cost an estimated $1.2 billion, according to the report.

“In our opinion, proper management of a program requires effective oversight to ensure the program goals are met,” the report reads.

The inspector general recommended the TSA develop, implement and enforce policies and procedures to ensure screening equipment is not only maintained as required, but that it is “fully operational while in service,” according to the report.

The audit also found the TSA has made these mistakes in managing the security equipment:

  • It has not given airports guidance on how to track and monitor maintenance
  • It relies on incomplete self-reported data from contractors and does not confirm the maintenance has been completed
  • It has no penalty to levy against the contractor if it does not perform preventative maintenance

Read the complete Homeland Security report here.

Todd DeFeo About the author:
Todd DeFeo is a writer, marketer and wanderer. Follow Todd on Twitter and check out his blog, The Travel Trolley.
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