Report: TSA Slow to Upgrade Airport Security

WASHINGTON

The Washington Post reports the government has been slow to upgrade airport security two years after the creation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The Post cites security and technology companies who say the TSA has been slow to review their products.

TSA officials say they have been reviewing more than 30,000 proposals submitted by private companies, testing some in laboratories and rejecting many because the suggested devices are too big to be installed in U.S. airports. The proposals include access systems that allow people to enter doors by pressing their palms on a machine.

Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s aviation subcommittee, said the TSA has hurt itself by cutting its own research and development budget. Of the $226 million set aside for research and development in the last two years, 36 percent was diverted for other purposes such as general TSA operations, paying contractors and even a technology project for another agency, TSA records show. Mica said it was a waste for the TSA to buy new metal detectors for every airport in the nation. “That money should have been spent first on new technology. The latest metal-detection equipment they’ve deployed is only marginally better than the previous and does nothing to detect explosives,” he said.

The TSA’s chief technology officer, Randy Null, told the Post the new metal detectors at airports can find much smaller objects. He adds that it might be wise for security firms to combine their resources and products. “Go figure out how to combine those boxes,” Null said he told the companies.

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