H.R. 5056, Airport Perimeter and Access Control Security Act of 2015

H.R. 5056

Airport Perimeter and Access Control Security Act of 2015

Sponsor
Rep. William Keating

Date
July 11, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Monday, July 11, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 5056, the Airport Perimeter and Access Control Security Act of 2015, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 5056 was introduced on April 26, 2016 by Rep. William Keating (D-MA) and was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security, which ordered the bill to be reported by unanimous consent on April 28, 2016.

Bill Summary

H.R. 5056 requires the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to update certain risk assessments related to security at airports, specifically along airport perimeters and points of access to secure areas. The bill would require the agency to report to Congress those risk assessments and update the agency’s strategic plan related to security measures at airports.

Background

The TSA has made significant progress in assessing the threat, vulnerability, and consequence components of risk to airport perimeter and access control security (airport security) in recent years, such as developing its Comprehensive Risk Assessment of Perimeter and Access Control Security (Risk Assessment of Airport Security) in May 2013. The TSA, however, has not updated this assessment to reflect changes in the airport security risk environment, such as TSA’s subsequent determination of risk from the insider threat—the potential of rogue aviation workers exploiting their credentials, access, and knowledge of security procedures throughout the airport for personal gain or to inflict damage.

Further, the TSA has not comprehensively assessed the vulnerability—one of the three components of risk—of TSA-regulated (i.e., commercial) airports systemwide through its joint vulnerability assessment (JVA) process, which it conducts with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or another process. From fiscal years 2009 through 2015, TSA conducted JVAs at 81 (about 19 percent) of the 437 commercial airports nationwide. TSA officials stated that they have not conducted JVAs at all airports system-wide because of resource constraints. While conducting JVAs at all commercial airports may not be feasible given budget and resource constraints, other approaches, such as providing all commercial airports with a self-vulnerability assessment tool, may allow TSA to assess vulnerability at airports system-wide.[1]

Since 2009, TSA has taken various actions to oversee and facilitate airport security; however, it has not updated its national strategy for airport security to reflect changes in its Risk Assessment of Airport Security and other security-related actions. In addition, TSA has taken steps to oversee and facilitate airport security by developing strategic goals and evaluating risks. For example, in 2012 TSA developed its National Strategy for Airport Perimeter and Access Control Security (Strategy), which defines how TSA seeks to secure the perimeters and security-restricted areas of the nation’s commercial airports. However, TSA has not updated its Strategy to reflect actions it has subsequently taken, including results of the 2013 Risk Assessment and new and enhanced security activities, among other things. Updating the Strategy to reflect changes in the airport security risk environment and new and enhanced activities TSA has taken to facilitate airport security would help TSA to better inform management decisions and focus resources on the highest-priority risks, consistent with its strategic goals.[2]

According to the bill’s sponsor, “The intense scrutiny placed at checkpoints in airports, but not on the perimeter, is the equivalent of locking your home’s doors while leaving your windows wide open. The GAO found that in many instances, the windows are open at our airports.”[3]

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[1] See Government Accountability Office, “Aviation Security: Airport Perimeter and Access Control Security Would Benefit from Risk Assessment and Strategy Updates” May 2016 at 2.
[2] Id.
[3] Rene Marsh, “ Government Watchdog: TSA Falling Short in Oversight of Airport Perimeter Security.” CNN News. May 31, 2016.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that any increased spending by the TSA would cost less than $500,000 annually, and any such spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds. According to the TSA, many of the requirements specified by H.R. 5056 are already consistent with current administrative policy. Enacting H.R. 5056 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 5056 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.