Wednesday, March 4, 2009

TSA Inspectors

The DHS Inspector General’s Office recently released a report on the Effectiveness of TSA's Surface Transportation Security Inspector. What has been almost as interesting as the report itself has been the press reaction. The Washington Post complains about the understaffed agency and it inability to police rail and mass transit security. The Journal of Commerce boasts how much the inspectors have done to reduce the threat of PIH chemicals transiting rail corridors through urban areas. Both publications read the same report; sort of like the blind men describing the elephant. Transportation Security Inspectors - Surface The IG report notes that there are only about 100 Transportation Security Inspectors – Surface (TSIs) in a program that was established in 2005. The IG report notes that these TSIs have been assigned to a wide range of duties. They include:
Conducting Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement reviews for passenger rail and bus lines; Conducting Security Action Item reviews for TIH freight rail shipments; Producing station profiles and by acting as liaisons between the Transportation Security Operations Center and transportation systems; and Participating in Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response exercises.
The report notes that an additional 75 inspectors have been authorized to provide additional coverage for the VIPR program where a variety Federal personnel make random security appearances at rail and bus passenger stations. They note that the lack of law enforcement training and authority limit the effectiveness of the TSIs in this program. Future Workload The report goes on to note that as the freight rail security rules come completely into effect on April 1st these same inspectors will also be tasked with enforcement of those regulations. Additional surface transportation security rules under consideration will further increase the workload on those TSIs. Previous IG recommendations have included using TSIs to verify and validate work done under a variety of TSA surface transportation grant programs. IG Recommendations The IG report suggests that TSA do an in depth evaluation of the use of the TSIs to determine how many are actually needed. They also suggest that TSA re-evaluate the use of TSIs in the VIPR program so that there expertise may be better utilized. Finally, the IG recommended that TSA work to make the chain of command for the TSIs more transparent. It is interesting to note that there is apparently a interest in the Obama Administration in increasing the scope of the duties of the TSIs as well as increasing their numbers. A complete reading of the IG report shows that increasing the scope of their duties will require a significant increase in their numbers. Hopefully the politicians will realize that increasing the numbers of inspectors should precede the increase in the required duties.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

DHS IG researchers in this report seem to have just taken the word of a self-congratulatory DHS that it has reduced "risk" of terrorist attack using hazmat cargoes in cities, without any definition or independent professional evaluation of that risk. In the hazmat profession,
Risk = probability times consequences. have the vulnerability zones of hazmat cargoes in our target cities been reduced, e.g., through re-routing? No, because railroads have prevented it.
Bean counters should talk to people outside the establishment, and count real beans, not just start climbing the fairy tale beanstalk. Fred Millar

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