On Monday, April 20, 2015 U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson released a statement on US airport security enhancements. According to the statement, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will take additional steps to address the potential insider threat vulnerability at U.S. airports.
These steps follow a 90-day Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) comprehensive review conducted in January 2015. Johnson also asked the ASAC to identify other trends to determine if additional risk-based security measures, resource reallocations, new investments or policy changes are necessary.
He made this request after an incident in Atlanta that occurred in December 2014 which raised questions about potential vulnerabilities regarding the screening and vetting of all airport-based employees. Immediately following the incident in December 2014, TSA increased the random and unpredictable screening of aviation workers at various airport access points to mitigate potential security vulnerabilities.
The TSA will take the following immediate actions:
- Until TSA establishes a system for “real time recurrent” criminal history background checks for all aviation workers, require fingerprint-based Criminal History Records Checks every two years for all airport employee SIDA badge holders.
- Require airport and airline employees traveling as passengers to be screened by TSA prior to travel.
- Require airports to reduce the number of access points to secured areas to an operational minimum.
- Increase aviation employee screening, to include additional randomization screening throughout the workday.
- Re-emphasize and leverage the Department of Homeland Security “If You See Something, Say Something™” initiative to improve situational awareness and encourage detection and reporting of threat activity.
Furthermore, the ASAC concluded that 100 percent physical employee screening would not completely eliminate potential risks, but would divert critical resources from other critical security functions to mitigate other risks.