A new report from the GAO suggests that some airport security screening equipment used by TSA may not be keeping pace with current threats.
"Technology performance can degrade over time; however, TSA does not ensure that technologies continue to meet detection requirements after deployment to airports," the report said. "TSA certifies technologies to ensure they meet requirements before deployment, and screeners are to regularly calibrate deployed technologies to demonstrate they are minimally operational. However, neither process ensures that technologies continue to meet requirements after deployment."
For example, said the report, in 2015 and 2016, DHS tested a sample of deployed explosives trace detection and bottled liquid scanner units and found that some no longer met detection requirements. GAO said the current technology in use meets standards developed in 2006, but that the agency developed updated standards in 2012 and 2017.
The report also found that lapses in maintenance and inspections have reduced the efficacy of some TSA devices. That meant some equipment for finding explosives "no longer met detection requirements -- either the required probability of detection for certain explosives or the required rate for false alarm, or both."
"Developing and implementing a process to ensure technologies continue to meet detection requirements after deployment would help ensure that TSA screening procedures are effective and enable TSA to take corrective action if needed," the report said.
GAO is making five recommendations, including that TSA document analysis of risk in deploying technologies, and implement a process to ensure technologies continue to meet detection requirements after deployment. GAO said that DHS agreed with all five recommendations and said TSA either has taken or will take actions to address them.