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Aviation Security: Status of TSA's Acquisition of Technology for Screening Passenger Identification and Boarding Passes

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Citation Edit

Government Accountability Office, Aviation Security: Status of TSA's Acquisition of Technology for Screening Passenger Identification and Boarding Passes (GAO-12-826T) (June 19, 2012) (full-text).

Overview Edit

This testimony discusses our past work examining the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) progress and challenges in developing and acquiring technologies to address aviation security needs. TSA's acquisition programs represent billions of dollars in life cycle costs and support a wide range of aviation security missions and investments. Within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and TSA have responsibilities for researching, developing, and testing and evaluating new technologies, including airport checkpoint screening technologies.

As part of its effort to improve security and increase efficiency, TSA began developing technology designed to automatically verify boarding passes and to better identify altered or fraudulent passenger identification documents. TSA plans for this technology, known as the Credential Authentication Technology/Boarding Pass Scanning System (CAT/BPSS), to eventually replace the current procedure used by travel document checkers to detect fraudulent or altered documents. However, we have previously reported that DHS and TSA have experienced challenges in managing their acquisition efforts, including implementing technologies that did not meet intended requirements and were not appropriately tested and evaluated, and have not consistently included completed analyses of costs and benefits before technologies were implemented.

This testimony focuses on (1) the status of TSA's CAT/BPSS acquisition and the extent to which the related life cycle cost estimate is consistent with best practices and (2) challenges we have previously identified in TSA's acquisition process to manage, test, acquire, and deploy screening technologies. This statement also provides information on issues for possible congressional oversight related to CAT/BPSS.

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