The Transportation Security Administration has not effectively assured the security of air cargo while it is being handled by personnel on the ground, said a DHS inspector general report.
An audit by the inspector general found that air carrier employees were handling and transporting air cargo without background checks or training. Of more than 2,640 air cargo security violations that TSA cargo inspectors found between October 2007 and June 2008, 1,655 were violations of security training and testing requirements.
The study was made to investigate just how thoroughly the industry protects itself when securing cargo against possible interference by malicious agencies and how it ensures staff have been rigorously and adequately vetted.
The report cites cases where staff were not sufficiently investigated, trained or both, and in the course of the investigation the undercover agents were able to gain access to supposedly secure areas and identify many staff who should not have been able to gain access without further security checks.
The report makes key recommendations as to the way to immediately improve the situation, including tightening access control at air cargo facilities, improving threat assessment, encouraging inspectors to take a risk-based approach to security, and training inspectors to improve the use of available security data.