AVIATION SECURITY – Transportation Security Administration Has Strengthened Planning to Guide Investments in Key Aviation Security Programs, but More Work Remains, GAO 2008 (CORE1067)

Summary: This GAO report discusses the impact of the 26 billion USD that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has spent on aviation security since 2004. The report focuses especially on the current status and the future challenges of passenger screening, air cargo security and passenger watch-list matching program known as Secure Flight. The air cargo security discussion is the report’s most relevant section from the CORE’s viewpoint. The information in the report, that has been published as early as July 2008, is anyhow largely outdated: it discusses challenges that TSA and the air cargo community need to overcome before starting the 100% screening of air cargo that flies on board passenger planes, a legal requirement that become into force in August 2010 and that was set by the Implementing Recommendation of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (aka the 9/11 Act). The report also recommended strengthening the security of US-bound foreign air cargo (into the US from the rest of the world), to bring it on a par with outbound air cargo security (from the US to rest of the world). More recent regulations and initiatives have corrected this weakness in the US air cargo security: today, third country air carriers must screen cargo up to US standards (or national standards if the country of origin and the US recognize each other’s air cargo regimes) before loading cargo on US-bound planes. The source document is available at: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-1024T.

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Full review: This GAO report provides useful background information about the US air cargo security regime. This information is going to be useful for the CORE demonstration 17.1 that is about time-critical express shipping of military aircraft parts from the US to Spain. In the demonstration, the express operator DHL ships the parts by plane, and thus compliance with the US air cargo security requirements is one of the key themes of this demo. Also WP 1 might use this GAO report to describe evolution of the US air cargo regime over the years. But though this analysis would be interesting, it is not going to be the essential content in the deliverable of the WP1.


  • GAO, Aviation Security: Federal Coordination for Responding to In-flight Security Threats Has Matured, but Procedures Can Be Strengthened, (Washington, D.C.: July 31, 2007).
  • G_A_O_, Aviation Security: Transportation Security Administration May Face Resource and other Challenges in Developing a System to Screen All Cargo Transported on Passenger Aircraft
  • GAO, Aviation Security: Federal Efforts to Secure U.S.-Bound Air Cargo Are in the Early Stages and Could Be Strengthened, GAO-07-660 (Washington, D.C.: April 2007).
  • GAO, Aviation Security: Progress Made in Systematic Planning to Guide Key Investment Decisions, but More Work Remains, GAO-07-448T (Washington, D.C.: February 13, 2007).

Full citation:

U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), 2008. Aviation Security – Transportation Security Administration Has Strengthened Planning to Guide Investments in Key Aviation Security Programs.


Additional keywords: Air cargo security, Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP)


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