Here’s the good news: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says a congressional mandate to screen 50 percent of all cargo on passenger flights by February 2009 has been met … and industry is well on its way to meeting another deadline: Screening all cargo transported on passenger aircraft by 2010.
Both deadlines were imposed by Congress in a 2007 law that sought to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.
Photo: Port of Seattle
Now here’s the not-so-good news: the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says TSA has been unable – so far -- to verify that the required screening level has been met. Never mind whether it was reached before the deadline.
In a report issued last week, GAO also expresses doubts that TSA has the personnel and equipment to guarantee the inspection of all cargo carried on passenger aircraft.
The report notes, and TSA acknowledges, that it can’t guarantee it will be able to screen 100 percent of cargo coming in on international flights originating overseas by the 2010 deadline.
Edward Kelly, TSA’s general manager for air cargo, says the agency can’t implement a security regimen in a foreign country without extensive planning and cooperation with – and acceptance by – international partners.
He notes that several steps were being taken to improve security for inbound cargo including: bilateral and multilateral agreements; a proposed change to the International Civil Aviation organization (ICAO) standards as well as partnering with U.S. Customs and Border protection.