Identifying, Resolving, and Preventing Vulnerabilities in TSA's Security Operations

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 - 10:00am
2154 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515
Identifying, Resolving, and Preventing Vulnerabilities in TSA's Security Operations



The hearing will examine:  (1) TSA’s failure to address vulnerabilities and outstanding recommendations issued by GAO, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General, and TSA’s own internal inspectors; (2) the need for legislation to require TSA to ensure that its covert tests are risk-informed and yield statistically valid results; and (3) the extent to which diversions of TSA officials to the southern border may be aggravating risks in aviation security operations.


  • In April 2019, GAO issued a declassified report in response to a bipartisan request made more than two years ago by then-Ranking Member Cummings, then-Subcommittee Ranking Member Tammy Duckworth, and other Members of Congress. 

  • The report found that TSA’s Office of Security Operations did not use a risk-informed approach to guide its covert tests and that “TSA has limited assurance that Security Operations is targeting the most likely threats.”  GAO also found that, of the “nine security vulnerabilities identified through covert tests” by TSA since 2015, “none had been formally resolved” as of September 2018. 

  • The DHS Inspector General has issued a number of classified reports—including on September 27, 2017October 24, 2017, and February 13, 2019— identifying multiple security vulnerabilities. 

  • According to the GAO, 22 of their aviation security operation recommendations made to TSA since 2016 have not been fully addressed.  According to the DHS Inspector General, 37 of their aviation security recommendations made to TSA, from 12 separate Inspector General reports dating back to 2014, remain open and unfulfilled.

  • In May 2019, press reports indicated the Trump Administration planned to send TSA officials to the southern border to help with the influx of migrants at the height of the summer travel season. 


Mr. Donald Bumgardner
Deputy Assistant Inspector General, Office of Inspector General
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Mr. Charles M. Johnson Jr.
Managing Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues
Government Accountability Office

The Honorable David P. Pekoske
Administrator, Transportation Security Administration
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

116th Congress