The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released four recommendations for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to assess the potential for discrimination in the airport screening process.

Discrimination in airport screening

TSA screening policies have drawn criticism in previous years from civil rights groups, who note the risk of racial profiling in certain behavior detection and screening strategies used by the agency. TSA has made efforts to reduce discriminatory situations during the airport screening process, including announcing screening measures that aim to reduce false alarm rates for transgender passengers.

In the recommendation report, GAO noted that "TSA officials in all four airports GAO visited and representatives from the seven stakeholder organizations GAO interviewed stated that TSA’s advanced imaging technology or other practices could result in certain passengers being referred for additional screening more frequently than others. These include transgender passengers or those who wear religious headwear or have disabilities."

TSA security screening recommendations

The GAO recommendations focused on data collection and assessments by the TSA to determine the extent of bias present throughout airport screening processes. The four recommendations include the following:

  1. Collect additional data on passenger referrals for additional screening.
  2. Assess the compliance level of passenger screening with non-discrimination policies and identify actions needed to resolve non-compliance.
  3. Take steps to better inform the public about TSA discrimination complaint processes in place.
  4. Leverage data provided by discrimination complaints to help improve security training, policies and procedures.

For more report information, click here.