Wednesday, August 26, 2009

TSA: Reporting Security Issues NPRM

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) published a notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) in today’s Federal Register regarding the establishment of a system through which the public could report security concerns and issues related to transportation security directly to the TSA. Comments on the proposed rule need to be submitted to the web (Docket # TSA-2009-0014) site by October 26th. This regulation is required under 49 U.S.C. 20109(j)), 1536(i) and 31105(i). These provisions were adopted as part of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-53). After TSA published their final rule on re-organizing section 1503 of 49 CFR earlier this summer, Subpart A was left ‘reserved’ for future regulatory action. This NPRM would add Subpart A, Reports by the Public of Security Problems, Deficiencies, and Vulnerabilities. It would provide a number of reporting routes for the public to identify “a problem, deficiency, or vulnerability regarding transportation security, including the security of aviation, maritime, railroad, motor carrier vehicle, or pipeline transportation, or any mode of public transportation, such as mass transit” {§1503.1(a)}. Reports could be filed by mail, email, or telephonically. The proposed regulation would include the address, email address and telephone numbers for making such reports. If the report submitter provided contact information, TSA would ‘promptly’ acknowledge receipt of the report. After receiving a report through this new mechanism TSA would “review and consider the information provided in any report submitted under this section and take appropriate steps to address any problems, deficiencies, or vulnerabilities identified” {§1503.1(c)}. As one would expect there are no provisions listed for TSA providing investigatory feedback to the filer of the initial report. TSA is taking pains to note that reports made through this mechanism will not relieve people of the requirement to make transportation related reports mandated by any other regulation. The preamble to the rule also makes it clear that new mechanism “is not intended for issues of immediate or emergency security or safety concern” (74 FR 43089); those should be reported using the 911 telephone system. This is not addressed in §1503.1.

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