Passenger Rail Security: Consistent Incident Reporting and Analysis Needed to Achieve Program Objectives

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has inconsistently overseen and enforced its rail security incident reporting requirement because it does not have guidance and its oversight mechanisms are limited, leading to considerable variation in the types and number of incidents reported. Though some variation is expected in the number and type of incidents reported because of differences in rail agency size, location, and ridership, local TSA inspection officials have provided rail agencies with inconsistent interpretations of the reporting requirement. For example, local TSA officials instructed one rail ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. December 19, 2012.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has inconsistently overseen and enforced its rail security incident reporting requirement because it does not have guidance and its oversight mechanisms are limited, leading to considerable variation in the types and number of incidents reported. Though some variation is expected in the number and type of incidents reported because of differences in rail agency size, location, and ridership, local TSA inspection officials have provided rail agencies with inconsistent interpretations of the reporting requirement. For example, local TSA officials instructed one rail agency to report all incidents related to individuals struck by trains. However, local TSA officials responsible for another rail agency said these incidents would not need to be reported as they are most often suicides with no nexus to terrorism. Providing guidance to local TSA inspection officials and rail agencies on the types of incidents that are to be reported could improve consistency across different TSA field offices. GAO also found inconsistency in TSA compliance inspections and enforcement actions because TSA has not utilized limited headquarters-level mechanisms as intended for ensuring consistency in these activities. TSA's rail security inspection policies do not specify inspection frequency but call for performing a "reasonable number" of inspections. However, 3 of the 19 rail agencies GAO contacted were not inspected from January 2011 through June 2012, including a large metropolitan rail agency, although local officials said it was unlikely that no incidents had occurred at that agency. Without inspections, TSA's assurance that rail agencies are reporting security incidents, as required, is reduced. In addition, TSA took enforcement action against an agency for not reporting an incident involving a knife, but did not take action against another agency for not reporting similar incidents, though the agency had been inspected. Enhancing headquarters-level mechanisms for overseeing inspection and enforcement actions in the field could help ensure more consistency in these activities and improve TSA's ability to use the information for trend analysis."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • December 19, 2012

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Passenger Rail Security: Consistent Incident Reporting and Analysis Needed to Achieve Program Objectives, report, December 19, 2012; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc301118/: accessed November 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.