TRANSPORTATION SECURITY – Action Needed to Strengthen TSA’s Security Threat Assessment Process, GAO, 2013 (CORE1015)

Summary: The GAO report is about measuring the performance of the Adjudication Centre that is a department within the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) responsible for administering background checks for people who need access to secure facilities unescorted. The centre issues the access credentials based on a through vetting of the applicant’s criminal history, immigration status, and connections to terrorist groups, among other checks. The report argues that the Adjunction Centre could improve the efficiency of the background checks – the individual security threat assessment – by improving its performance measurement system through better data and indicators. Although this GAO report focuses on a rather narrow topic, management of the background checking process, the report’s insights could benefit the CORE’s risk management cluster and those demonstrations that deal with access control matters. The report is available at:

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Full review: This GAO document is closely related to the work the CORE’s risk cluster. The report describes problems the TSA’s Adjudication Centre faces when it manages the background checking process of the US-based transportation worker identification credentials (TWIC), hazardous materials endorsements (HME) and Aviation Worker (AV) authorization programs. Moreover, since access control is a central security solution in nearly all CORE demonstrators, the demonstrations might benefit from tips and guidance this report offers. At the final stages of the project, this GAO report might prove a useful document when the project consortium produces training materials on how to manage access control systems and how to administer background checks.


  • Port Risk Management: Additional Federal Guidance Would Aid Ports in Disaster Planning and Recovery. GAO-07-412. Washington, D.C.: March 28, 2007.
  • Critical Infrastructure Protection: An Implementation Strategy Could Advance DHS’s Coordination of Resilience Efforts across Ports and Other Infrastructure. GAO-13-11. Washington, D.C.: October 25, 2012.


Additional keywords: Terrorism, background checks


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