Aviation Safety Applications: TSA Ought to Make clear Compliance Program Steering and Deal with Person Considerations with Its Information Programs

What GAO Discovered

The Division of Homeland Safety’s Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) carried out about 28,000 inspections in 2021 to determine violations and enhance safety for home airports and passenger air carriers. If TSA identifies a violation, it might probably take enforcement actions starting from counseling to civil penalties.

TSA permits airports and air carriers to develop an motion plan that invests their very own assets to handle violations in lieu of a civil penalty. The plans companion TSA with airports and air carriers to determine the basis explanation for a violation. Many of the airport and air provider officers GAO spoke with like having motion plans as an choice. Nevertheless, TSA steerage shouldn’t be clear as to when the plans are applicable to make use of, reminiscent of for systemic violations. Growing and sharing extra steerage may assist TSA and its companions extra effectively use their assets.

Transportation Safety Administration Inspector Conducting Inspection of Airport Gear

Aviation Safety Applications: TSA Ought to Make clear Compliance Program Steering and Deal with Person Considerations with Its Information Programs

In March 2021, TSA transitioned to a brand new laptop platform that inspectors are to make use of to report info from their compliance work. Inspectors at every of the 5 area places of work GAO visited mentioned challenges utilizing this platform have affected their potential to seize compliance knowledge. For instance, a few of these inspectors mentioned TSA didn’t adequately seek the advice of with or prepare customers when it started transitioning knowledge to the brand new platform. Because of this, inspectors mentioned they can’t edit required key knowledge fields, reminiscent of updating factors of contact or including new regulated entities. TSA is addressing some points, however has not absolutely assessed person issues, reminiscent of the necessity for higher communication. Assessing issues may assist TSA maximize its knowledge system.

TSA plans to transition 9 extra knowledge programs to its new platform, however has not developed a broad set of classes realized of workers’s experiences from different programs’ transitions. Growing classes realized will assist TSA higher guarantee it mitigates previous challenges throughout future transitions.

Why GAO Did This Examine

Fixed threats to passenger aviation require steady and efficient safety packages. Since 2020, over 1 billion passengers traveled on flights inside the US. TSA is accountable for securing the nation’s aviation transportation system by making certain air carriers and airport operators adjust to safety necessities.

GAO was requested to evaluate TSA’s efforts to implement safety packages. This report examines (1) how TSA inspections are designed to enhance aviation safety compliance, (2) how TSA addressed recognized cases of noncompliance from fiscal years 2017 by means of 2021, and (3) the extent TSA has skilled challenges transitioning to a brand new knowledge compliance platform and steps taken to handle them. GAO reviewed TSA documentation for its inspections and investigations and noticed TSA compliance workers in 5 airport area places of work chosen based mostly on location and the variety of passengers on board plane in 2019. GAO additionally interviewed TSA officers and representatives from these 5 airport operators in addition to the eight largest passenger air carriers.