Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Homeland Security Committee Announce Markup Hearing for Thursday

This morning the House Homeland Security Committee announced that their Transportation Security Subcommittee would be holding a markup hearing on Thursday. Three bills would be included in the markup:

H.R. 3102, the “Airport Access Control Security Improvement Act of 2015”.
H.R. ____, the ‘‘Partners for Aviation Security Act”.
Committee Print of H.R. ___, the “Transportation Security Administration Reform and Improvement Act of 2015”.

The first two bills are airport security bills pure and simple, so I intend to ignore them. The third bill contains two titles; the second being “Surface Transportation Security”. That means that it is fair game in this blog.

Surface Transportation Security Changes

This Title contains three sections:

Sec. 201. Surface Transportation Inspectors.
Sec. 202. Repeal of biennial reporting requirement for the GAO relating to the Transportation Security Information Sharing Plan.
Sec. 203. Repeal of frontline employee training requirements.

Section 201 outlines a new reporting requirement for the Comptroller Generals Office concerning “the efficiency and effectiveness of the Administration’s 4 Surface Transportation Security Inspectors Program” {§201(b)}. From the tenor of the items to be addressed in the report, the author (almost certainly the Committee Staff) don’t think much of the current crop of Surface Transportation Inspectors. It looks like they want the responsibility for this program to revert to the DOT modal agencies.

Section 202 removes a reporting requirement for the Comptroller Generals Office established in 49 USC 114(u)(7). This is a biennial reporting requirement on a user satisfaction survey concerning “the quality, speed, regularity, and classification of the transportation security information products disseminated by the Department of Homeland Security to public and private stakeholders”.

Section 203 removes the requirement for TSA to establish employee security training programs that were originally required under the 9/11 Commission Act of 6 2007 (Public Law 110–53). Those programs are:

Public transportation security training program {6 USC 1137};
Over-the-road bus security training program {6 USC 1184}

There are two other programs included in the elimination program set out in this section that have nothing to do with employee training; they both deal with employee threat assessment programs:

Threat assessments (public transportation) {6 USC 1140};
Threat assessments (railroad) (§1520 of the 9/11 Commission Act of 6 2007}

Both of those threat assessment requirements use virtually the same wording:

“Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall complete a name-based security background check against the consolidated terrorist watchlist and an immigration status check for all railroad frontline employees, similar to the threat assessment screening program required for facility employees and longshoremen by the Commandant of the Coast Guard under Coast Guard Notice USCG-2006-24189 (71 Fed. Reg. 25066 (April 8, 2006)).”


TSA has never actually gotten around to establishing any of the programs mentioned in §203, so as a practical matter eliminating them does not make much difference. And since everyone knows (pardon the sarcasm) that terrorists never attack public transportation, there really is no need for security training of front line employees in that sector.

Likewise, there is no chance (again sarcasm alert) that terrorists would want to become railroad employees to effect an attack. And we know that terrorists have made no attempt to radicalize Americans as a part of an effort to encourage lone wolf attacks in this country. With both of those facts established, there is obviously no need to vet first line surface transportation employees against the TSDB.

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