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Rail Security: TSA Improved Risk Assessment but Could Further Improve Training and Information Sharing

NCJ Number
Steve Lord
Date Published
June 2011
19 pages
The report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office presents testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation discusses efforts by the Transportation Security Administration to assess and enhance rail security measures.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has taken steps to conduct comprehensive risk assessments across all aspects of the transportation sector and within passenger and freight rail modes. The assessments look at the three elements of risk - threat, vulnerability and consequences. Based on GAO evaluations from 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), of which the TSA is a part, produced the Transportation Sector Security Risk Assessment, which assesses risk as a factor of all three risk elements within and across the transportation sector. The DHS is also working on strengthening risk assessments within individual transportation modes, working with various transportation industries to streamline information-sharing mechanisms, and ensuring that the TSA develop and issue regulations for public transportation and railroad security training programs. This report presents testimony from examining: 1) the extent to which the DHS has conducted comprehensive risk assessments for the transportation sector, including for the rail sector; 2) technologies available to enhance rail security; 3) TSA's efforts regarding rail security training; and 4) rail stakeholders' satisfaction with security-related information supplied by the TSA. Information for this report was obtained from surveys of the seven largest rail carriers, interviews with security officials from three of the carriers selected as a result of their location, and interviews with TSA officials. Recommendations for improving DHS's and TSA's efforts to assess rail security efforts are discussed.