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Transportation Security: Post-September 11th Initiatives and Long-Term Challenges

NCJ Number
Gerald L. Dillingham
Date Published
April 2003
30 pages
This document discusses transportation security in the United States before and since September 11, 2001.
Before September 2001, aviation security was the responsibility of the Federal Aviation Administration. There were significant and long-standing vulnerabilities in aviation security. These vulnerabilities included airport screeners’ inadequate detection of threats when screening passengers and their carry-on bags prior to their boarding the aircraft; the absences of any requirement to screen checked baggage on domestic flights; inadequate controls for limiting access to secure areas at airports; and inadequate security for air traffic control computer systems and facilities. Since September 2001, securing the Nation’s transportation systems from terrorist attacks has assumed a greater sense of urgency, resulting in the re-organization of Federal agencies responsible for transportation security. The Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration have assumed responsibility for enhancing security and addressing aviation security challenges, respectively. A workforce of over 60,000 people, including passenger and baggage screeners and Federal air marshals, are screening about 90 percent of all checked baggage for explosives. Local mass transit agencies have assessed vulnerabilities, increased training for emergency preparedness, and conducted emergency drills. The Coast Guard has performed initial risk assessments of ports, established new security guidelines, and initiated an assessment of security conditions at 55 U.S. ports. Customs and the Immigration and Naturalization Service have actions under way to strengthen port security. However, an effective port security environment may be many years away. The long-term challenges faced by transportation security are developing a risk management approach; ensuring funding needs are identified and prioritized; establishing effective coordination among the many entities responsible for security; ensuring an adequate workforce; and implementing security standards for transportation facilities, workers, and security equipment. 4 figures, 25 footnotes