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October 04, 2012

Thompson, Jackson-Lee Inquire on TSA Insider Threat Policies

(WASHINGTON) – Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member on the Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Ranking Member of the Transportation Security Subcommittee, sent a letter to John S. Pistole, Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in response to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) report on TSA efforts to address the information technology insider threat—the possibility that TSA employees or contractors will remove or transmit sensitive information outside of TSA's network boundaries without authorization. Ranking Member Thompson and Ranking Member Jackson Lee seek explanations for TSA's failure to implement low-cost methods to reduce risk as recommended in the report – such as personnel training and specific policies to address insider threats; a timeframe for completing these key recommendations, and information on the expenditures and lifecycle costs of TSA's current efforts to combat insider threats.

The OIG report, entitled "Transportation Security Administration Has Taken Steps To Address the Insider Threat But Challenges Remain" (OIG-12-120) found that TSA has begun various programs, strategies, and assessments to address the possible insider threat – which includes the creation of an Insider Threat Working Group, an Insider Threat Section, and a Security Operations Center. TSA has also begun security checks of personnel, physical, and information systems at selected airports and off site offices. However, the IG recommended that TSA develop better insider threat policies and procedures and implement an insider threat specific training and awareness program for its employees – security objectives which could be achieved at a relatively low cost without compromising effectiveness.

This report was issued after Ranking Members Thompson and Jackson-Lee sent letters to TSA in June and again in July to request more information on TSA's notice of its intent to purchase an information technology system to monitor employees and interfere with legitimate attempts by employees to act whistle-blowers. TSA has not responded to the second Congressional inquiry.

Link to letter to TSA

July letter to TSA

June letter to TSA

TSA response to June letter

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