The Transportation Security Administration granted access to secure airport areas to 73 aviation workers with “links to terrorism,” according to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.
The audit, released Monday, reveals that TSA was unable to vet out 73 individuals with terror-related category codes because the agency did not have enough access to terror list information.
“According to TSA data, these individuals were employed by major airlines, airport vendors, and other employers. TSA did not identify these individuals through its vetting operations because it is not authorized to receive all terrorism-related categories under current interagency watchlisting policy,” the redacted report reads.
“TSA acknowledged that these individuals were cleared for access to secure airport areas despite representing a potential transportation security threat,” it added.
The new audit comes on the heels of another damaging Inspector General report on TSA’s security measures, which found the aviation security body was unable to detect fake bombs and weapons in 95 percent of trial runs. Revealed last week in an ABC News report, the OIG’s findings resulted in the Acting TSA Administrator, Melvin Carraway’s, removal from the post.
In addition to the threats posed by aviation workers with terror-ties, Monday’s report also took issue with the TSA’s handing of aviation workers’ potential criminal pasts and/or immigration issues, noting the agency’s controls on criminal histories and immigration statuses were “less effective” than its terror-vetting.
“In general, TSA relied on airport operators to perform criminal history and work authorization checks, but had limited oversight over these commercial entities. Thus, TSA lacked assurance that it properly vetted all credential applicants,” the report reads.
It added that TSA’s records were lacking in necessary information.
“Further, thousands of records used for vetting workers contained potentially incomplete or inaccurate data, such as an initial for a first name and missing social security numbers. TSA did not have appropriate edit checks in place to reject such records from vetting. Without complete and accurate information, TSA risks credentialing and providing unescorted access to secure airport areas for workers with potential to harm the nation’s air transportation system,” the report reads.
The OIG made six recommendations including working with DHS to obtain access to records that would identify workers with potential terror ties. The TSA concurred with all the recommendations.