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Transportation Security Administration


Before the terrorists attacked the US on 11th of September 2001, the security system their airports only concentrated on the screening of the passengers and carry on luggage by use of their metal; detectors and the X-Ray machines. However after the tragedy, it was an eye opener for the US security causing concerns that called fro the intervention of the congress. The congress issued an order to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) asking it to ensure that it screens the entire checked baggage for any explosives and also carry out impromptu searches. More reinforcements were put to the security of the air transport. The pilots were allowed to carry arms and marshals were employed on commercial flights. However these extra precautions and strict security measures are interfering with the efficacy and convenience of the transport system. The transportation Security Administration (TSA) is an agency of the US


Transportation Security Administration

security systems responsible for law enforcement in the transport sector. The agency was established as part of the transport and aviation security act by the US congress following the

September 11                                                                                                       th attacks in 2001.


There has been a lot of laxity with US transport security system over the post years despite the terrorism threat especially to the United States as a country itself and its citizens.

Problems Statement

Before the terrorist attacks on the twin towers, security in American airports was done by personnel from private from contracted by the airlines. The security system was very fast at the airports and sometimes not very strict. However some people believe that the private sector was very effective compared to the TSA. Airports are usually filled with a lot of people due to the transport need especially in this 21st century where international travel has increased a great deal, U.S. General Accounting Office (2002). Such kinds of gatherings are a very sure target for the terrorists and also places of other serious crimes. In the same regard, the larger number of people that get into very large airplanes, the ability to hijack a plane and use it as a deadly weapon against innocent individuals and the possible high lethality present an attractive target

for terrorists. One such incidence is the September 11 th attack on the US; this led to the establishment of the transportation Security Administration (TSA) to replace the private sector (Berrick 2006).

Literature Review

The Airport Security system and TSA: The airport security is concerned with safeguarding the people and property from harm and destruction that could result from hazardous activities


Transportation Security Administration

like terrorism and other forms of criminal activities. It attempts to stop attackers from smuggling weapons or explosives and bombs into the country through the airports. If this is succeeded then the changes of getting the weapons to the planes and into the country illegally are greatly reduced and so are terrorist activities (Berrick 2006). The objective of the airport or the aviation security system is to safeguard the passengers, the aircraft, and the crew and also offer support to the national security to implement the counter terrorist policy, U.S. General Accounting Office (2002a). However sometimes these security systems fail to accomplish their objective and hence need to be reinforced, the US government had tom institute the Aviation Transport Security Act (ATSA) of 2001 and this law saw the security metal detectors and other security screeners placed under the jurisdiction of the TSA. Early evaluations on the program when it was established were irregular and TSA has met several challenges in what has proofed to be the largest manipulation of American civilian agency in the history of America, American Federation of Government Employees (2004).

How is TSA Managed? : Initially after its formation, the TSA was set apart under the transport department of United Sates of America. However in the year 2003, the agency was moved from this docket to the homeland security department. Currently TSA as an agency has the mandatory of ensuring safety in the airports of America, harbor or ported, railways, highways and roads and also ensure that buses, boats, planes, trains and transits are safe for the traveling of passengers and movement of cargo. As part of its safety to offer security services, TSA operates extensive law enforcement plans and operations like training the flight crew, assigning air marshals on planes, and operating other aviation security measures, U.S. General Accounting Office (2002a).

The TSA is also responsible for ensuring security at borders and ports and enforce the law at these regions. They carry out investigations into possible security threats and do the security screening to inspect passengers and cargo just to make sure that they are safe and they act in accordance with the American law regarding the types of objects that are allowed on aircraft, boats and trains. The TSA officials also take care of security layers which make it very difficult for terrorists to enter the US. By this, thy carry out document verification, scrutinize visa credentials, supervise the security processes careen transportation employees and also oversee several other programs, U.S. General Accounting Office (2001).

What Are The Emerging Threats? The TSA is facing new challenges like better technology to


Transportation Security Administration

avoid detection by the screen in the airport; long distance missile launching can attack without necessarily traveling to the US airports. Besides, the terrorist are now investing in biological weapons which could be smuggled into the country as useful chemical or via an infected person who will then infect others (Bullock et al 2007). It’s also possible that the attackers may not necessarily need the weapons like knives but could even use a box cutter to terrorize a plane and then fly them into a building. The terrorist on the other hand can improvise weapons on the plane like smashing glass or just use of bare hands if they are good in marshal arts, American Federation of Government Employees (2004).

Managing Aviation Security (AVSEC) At Local and International Levels

Modern terrorism is a practically current experience in the world today and is a threat to many nations regardless of the security, measures that have been put in place by many nations. Attacks can come from anywhere ranging from domestic inability, incapacitated local security system and also conflict between local policies and international terrorism. Handling terrorism at both local and international levels is very important because modern terrorism is using very recent technology and has no regard for anything; long range missiles can be launched from another country and then sent to bomb the one that is free from terrorism (Bertrand et al 2001).

Some other countries have factors that could be very fertile grounds for developing terrorism allowing recruitment at both international and domestic levels creating very extensive networks. The 11th September attack was an eye opener and it called to mind several dimensions of sensitivity to the perception of air transport and the airport security. The interests and concerns of the aviation industry have been changed bearing in mind that the security officers realized there was a concretion at regional man international levels concerning the attack (Bertrand et al 2001).

Aviation security is managed by a set of rules and guideline set by the international Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Owing to the fact that there are varied requirements, capabilities, objectives of several local, national and regional agencies, reaching a consensus and these making sure that there is AVSEC compliance is a technical, political and diplomatic challenge,


Transportation Security Administration

U.S. General Accounting Office (2002a).


Sample: the sample size comprised of 105 participants 65 of which were airport security personnel and managers while the rest, 50, were passengers who expressed some knowledge of the security measures that had to be implemented at the airport. The participants were given pilot questionnaires to determine whether they understood the scope of the research. Confidence and confidentiality was assured as the research administered the consent form so that only those who accented to the informed consent form were selected for the study, U.S. General Accounting Office (2001).

Data Collection: a comparative a qualitative research was carried out to assess the performance of the aviation security to determine its compliance with the TSA standards. The security measures before the September 11th 2001 attacks of before the formation of the TSA were evaluated as well. The aviation security measures should be designed to meet the TSA requirements and that they identify impacts on the aviation security just and it is mandated by the section 522 of the public law 108 – 334. Open ended questionnaires were prepared for the airport security personnel, the crew and the passengers, U.S. General Accounting Office (2001). The researcher firs t developed pilot questionnaires which were disseminated to the selected security personnel to review the TSA work policy which involved assessing the initial strategies developed by TSA and key informant interviews were held to interview the TSA officials who were in charge of the aviation security in different airports, U.S. General Accounting Office. (2002b).

The study utilized the performance evaluation criteria developed by the government aviation organization to assess the best practices in the airport security. This is to evaluate whether the security measures were developed in accordance with the best performance attributes. The experts from GAO were used to measure performance, contracting process and also evaluate the information systems in terms of developing and testing concerns (Bertrand et al 2001).


Transportation Security Administration

Data Analysis: the researchers analyzed data for explanatory trends of compliance with TSA, AVSEC and GOA regulations and also about efficiency of security personnel. Responses to these questions were tabulated into percentages (e.g. 34% of learners agreed culturally sensitive curriculum enhanced understanding of the course content). One way MANOVA was selected as the most appropriate method of evaluating the data by determining the difference

between the two events of security as in prior to the September 11 th 2001 and the changes thereafter. A second concern focused on the passengers understanding of the regulations and understanding of whether there was any connection between the objects they carry (carry own luggage) and the perceived risks of terrorist attacks, U.S. General Accounting Office (2001). Passenger satisfaction with the conventional security at the airport was determined by their reaction to question as whether they had noted improved security measures than before September 20001. To establish whether there was a connection between security loopholes before the formation of the TSA, its reorganization and the terror attacks, bivaratte analyses ware done in a Pearson correlation coefficient matrix.

Findings: the security measures in most of the airports were very much complaint with the TSA requirements and most personnel were better trained in handling security details like assessment and evaluation. The security system in the aviation industry is very strict on observing the compliance to the GAOs specifications and that the Transport Security officers are now experienced in their performance like identification of items that are hazardous to air transport by use of the explosives detectors. The passengers also indicated that they were aware of the object that they were not supposed to carry on the plane since it was evident from the cases assessed that the number of cases being recorded today about passengers carrying hazardous metallic objects had reduced considerably (Butler & Robert 2004). The reporting systems were also efficient and there was someone to respond to passengers concerns. Any new changes in the TSA regulations were promptly notified to the aviation security and relevant changes or rather measures instituted with immediate effect. For instance, the use of powder cosmetics has been challenged. TSA became aware that some powders could be used to improvise explosives. Whereas this has not been a serious threat, TSA has managed to deploy detection kits to identify those powders with possible explosive characteristics. This is just a show of how security concerns are a great deal to the Americans, U.S. General Accounting Office (2001).


Transportation Security Administration


Before the incidence of terrorist attacks in the US in September 2001, the aviation security was kind of laid back and not paying much attention to petty issues like scrutinizing the baggage carried along by the travelers. The cargo planes on the other hand were not very strict in identifying the contents being carried in the luggage, U.S. General Accounting Office. (2002b). Even the function of very important organizations like GAO only concentrated on the aviation security alone though it was again under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Security being implemented by the Transport Department by then. These types of operations and dealing at the airport presented fertile opportunities and significant, long lasting susceptibility in the airport security. Among such susceptibilities were the metal detectors and airport screening machines which were inadequate in detecting threats when being used to screen passengers and their carry on luggage to the boarding of the plane; the checked baggage did not have requirement to be screened again especially for the domestic flights; the controls for reducing access to the restricted areas at the airport was inadequate; and also the air traffic control computer systems and other facilities in the security monitoring areas were inadequately equipped, U.S Government Accountability Office (2006).

Aviation Security Improvements since September 2001

There were so many inconveniences at the security department in the airports before the security services were sgift4d to the homeland security. For instance, the passengers could be asked to report as early as two hour prior to departure so that the security detail of their luggage and other concerns could be scrutinized. After the checks, passengers could be selected at random for carry on bags before boarding the plane, since that 11th September incidence, today are even asked to remove their shoes at the checkpoints. Two areas are a significance importance and will be addressed in this paper. They are federalization of services and screening of all baggage (Coughlin et al 2004).

Screening of the passengers has been federalized: the s3ecurity operations were handed to the TSA officially and it retained some of the private security services. Nonetheless, overtime all the US commercial airports were mandated to carry out passenger screening operations. There were three changes made by the TSA to enhance the efficacy of the


Transportation Security Administration

security service operations. First, the number of the staff was increased to reduce time wasting on the waiting queues. In a period of one year since its inception, the TSA had already employed about 60,000 employees all over the US airports including baggage and passenger screeners (Butler & Robert 2004). Federal air marshals were also deployed the services was able to screen 90% of the entire luggage checked for possible explosives. Second, the payment for the screeners was increased and better salaries were offer plus job benefits. In fact the wages were more than doubled, this was a motivation for security to increase their commitment to the job and enjoy doing it with proficiency it deserves (Bullock et al 2007). The turnover of employees also reduced as a consequence. Third, there was enhanced training for the security personnel, the airport workers and the airplane crew. The use of X-ray machine was increased; training went up from the usual 12 hours to 100 hours of training for the screeners. Financing was the biggest challenger in implementing the new changes that had been proposed to improve the security at the airports (Butler & Robert 2004). Imbalance of stuffing, delays due to increased security scrutiny and cases of missed flights were very common immediately after inception of the TSA rules. However with better financing of the services, these delays are being sorted out nicely and efficiently (Bullock et al 2007).

Babbage Screening Procedures: unlike screening of the passengers, there were no systems set in place to screen baggage before the 9/11 incidence. However after that, the TSA introduced two stages of screening, and were matched each luggage to the passenger taking the flight or screen the luggage for explosives by use of explosion trace detector (ETD), explosion detection System (EDS), manual search the bags or use of bomb-snifter dogs (Coughlin et al 2004).

Nevertheless the homeland security and the transport department still face long standing challenges since the terrorist also keep conforming to sophistication and use of newer and noble technologies, U.S Government Accountability Office (2006). These challenges include;

1. Development of extensive transport risk management approach


Transportation Security Administration

2. Ensure that transport security financing requirements are well identified and prioritization made appropriately to control the cost of implementation

3. Establishment of efficient coordination among the numerous private and public bodies accountable for the security services in the transport sector

4. Making sure that the employees are competent and adequately trained

5. Implementation of the TSA security goals for transport facilities, equipment and employees, U.S. General Accounting Office (2002)


Since 2001 incidence, the transport systems in the US assumed great responsibility and urgency. The government had to reorganize the federal agencies in chare of the transport security, and moving them to new department of homeland security. The department has worked since then to ensure that security is enhanced and without unduly restricting the movement of people and luggage. The overall responsibility lies with the Transport security administration which has made significant progress as indicated above. Additionally, the local mass transport systems have evaluated the susceptibilities and enhanced trainings for the emergency preparedness and also carried out security emergency drills. The ports have also not been ignored and the coast guards is on high alert also performs initial risk evaluation of the harbors and ports, Implemented new guidelines and initiates extensive evaluation of security in all the 55 port of the US. The TSA and GOA usually issues report of performance and make recommendations to address emerging challenges and react to some of the activities already underway. Nonetheless, passenger travel, shipments of air cargo and the operation in general aviation airports plus the mass transport systems still pose vulnerability to terrorist attacks and an efficient airport security environment may be still along way to go.


Transportation Security Administration


Transportation Security Administration


1. American Federation of Government Employees (2004). New Poll Shows U.S. Voters Feel Safer with Federal Airport Security Force. Press release, Washington, D.C.

2. Bertrand, M., Esther D. & Sendhil M. (2001). How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-differences Estimates?” Working Paper 01-34, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Quarterly Journal of Economics. 19

3. Butler, V., & Robert W. P. (2004). Rethinking Checked-Baggage Screening. Policy Study. Reason Public Policy Institute. Los Angeles

4. Coughlin C.C., Jeffrey P. C. & Sarosh R. K. (2004). Aviation Security and Terrorism. A Review of the Economic Issues,” Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review. 84(5). 9 – 25

5. U.S. General Accounting Office (2002). Port Security: Nation Faces Formidable

Challenges in Making New Initiatives Successful, GAO-02-993T (Washington, D.C 6. U.S. General Accounting Office (2001). Homeland Security: A Risk Management Approach Can Guide Preparedness Efforts, GAO-02-208T (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 31, 2001).

7. U.S. General Accounting Office. (2002). Aviation Security: Transportation Security Administration Faces Immediate and Long-Term Challenges, GAO-02-971T (Washington, D.C. :).

8. U.S Government Accountability Office (2006). Transportation Security Administration: oversight of explosive detection systems maintenance contracts can be strengthened: report to congressional committees. GAO

9. Berrick C. A (2006). Transportation Security Administration: More Clarity on the Authority of Federal Security Directors Is Needed. DIANE Publishing

10. Bullock J.A Haddow G.DX & Coppola D.P (2007). Introduction to homeland security. Butterworth-Heinemann homeland security series. Butterworth-Heinemann