Purpose, Scope, and Methodology
At the request of Chairwoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection, House Committee on Homeland Security, we reviewed TSA regulations governing GA security. Our objectives were to identify (1) current TSA security requirements for GA airports; (2) current threats to GA, whether TSA has identified those threats, and how those threats leave GA airports vulnerable; (3) steps TSA has taken to strengthen GA security and challenges TSA faces; (4) steps nonfederal stakeholders have taken to enhance GA security and other actions they can take; and (5) any record of “incidents of concern” with security at GA airports.
Our scope was limited to TSA and GA airports. We examined airport tenants such as flight schools and FBOs, which provide hangar space, maintenance, and fuel to aircraft. We visited a sample of GA facilities of varying sizes and in locations near and away from major population centers. Our review included airports in California, Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, and the National Capital Region. The four sites visited in Texas included the three identified in the television reports that prompted the chairwoman’s letter.
We reviewed relevant documentation such as legislation, reports, current TSA regulations, published guidelines, policies, and procedures. We interviewed TSA and private sector personnel who have a stake in GA security. We also gathered information from GA advocates and stakeholders affiliated with the Aviation Security Advisory Committee working group, which developed guidelines for security enhancements at GA facilities. We relied on sources of evidence from state and local law enforcement officials.
We assessed the effectiveness of TSA’s current GA security requirements at the sites we visited. During these visits, we examined airport security policies, procedures, and practices. Finally, to respond to Chairwoman Jackson Lee’s inquiry regarding “incidents of concern,” we examined TSA’s record of reported incidents and records from airport owners or managers. After conducting our review and establishing that TSA and the industry are making a concerted effort to collaborate and ensure that the industry is secure, we have determined that we have no recommendations for TSA.
Our fieldwork was performed between April 2008 and September 2008. This review was conducted under the authority of the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, and according to the Quality Standards for Inspections issued by the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency.
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