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June 05, 2013

TSA Behavior Detection Program Not Objective, Lacks Strategic Plan

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the below statement in response to a Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) report he requested: "Transportation Security Administration's Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques" (OIG-91-13). The IG found that Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program did not have a strategic or financial plan despite being in operation for over 5 years.

The IG also found that TSA has not assessed the effectiveness of the program, developed comprehensive training or ensured outreach to local law enforcement partners – meaning TSA cannot ensure that passengers are screened objectively or show that SPOT is cost effective or worthy of expansion. Since FY2007, approximately one billion dollars has been spent on the program. About 2,800 full-time positions – about 5% of the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) workforce – serve as "Behavior Detection Officers" under this program.

"The Inspector General's audit of the SPOT program deals yet another blow to TSA's efforts to implement a behavioral detection screening program. Because of TSA's failures in setting up the program, TSA cannot assure the American people that this program objectively determines whether an individual constitutes a risk."

"After five years, approximately one billion dollars spent, a history of racial profiling allegations, and a lack of measurable results – this report makes it clear that the SPOT program has not improved aviation security and has wasted taxpayer dollars that could have been spent on proven safety measures. This is why I will be offering an amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill this week to prevent any more taxpayer dollars from being spent on this failed and misguided effort. I hope this Congress can muster the resolve to stop the SPOT program."

Link to Report


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Media Contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978