TSA denies need for back-up plan

FOLLOWING its recent damning report by government auditors, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) claims that it does not need a contingency plan if, or when, it fails to meet its mandate to screen 100 per cent of domestic air cargo by August 2010.

The report by the Government Accountability Office said that there were many challenges still to be overcome before the TSA achieved its goal. While acknowledging that great strides had been made in meeting the deadline, in its opinion the Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP) still has many flaws.

The TSA responded by admitting that the deadline next year for screening of all incoming international bellyhold cargo would likely not be reached and would more likely now be in 2013. However, speaking to Congress, John Sammon, TSA assistant administrator for transportation sector network management, insisted that the August deadline would be met.

“[The TSA] contends there is no feasible contingency plan that can be implemented that does not compromise security or create disparities in the availability of screening resources among airports and/or commodity sectors,” said Jerald Levine, government accountability director at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA.

However, Stephen Lord, the Government Accountability Office’s director of homeland security and justice issues insisted: “Developing a contingency plan that considers additional or alternative security measures will better position [the] TSA to meet the mandate without disrupting the flow of commerce should it become clear that the challenges related to CCSP participation and screening technology will hinder the agency’s efforts.”

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