OIG-08-07, Information Technology Management Needs to Be Strengthened at the Transportation Security Administration



Information technology plays a critical role in supporting the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) security mission. Since 2001, TSA began to develop an initial IT infrastructure as well as implementing an array of explosive detection and X-ray systems to meet mission needs in key areas such as aviation security.

As part of our ongoing responsibility to assess the efficiency, effectiveness, and economy of departmental programs and operations, we reviewed TSA’s IT management programs and activities. The objectives of this review were to evaluate TSA’s management of current technologies and infrastructure to ensure effective transportation security mission operations and information management and exchange across internal and external stakeholders.

TSA does not manage and apply IT effectively to support accomplishment of its mission objectives. Due to early pressures to meet tight congressional time frames and the public’s demand for increased transportation security, TSA’s technology environment evolved quickly and in a highly decentralized manner. The resulting IT infrastructure has limited system integration and data sharing and has perpetuated inefficient manual work processes. Additionally, due to a lack of authority and standard policies to govern technology implementation across TSA offices, the agency’s chief information officer (CIO) faces significant challenges in conducting agency-wide IT planning and investment management to counter the fragmented environment. The declining number of staff within the central IT Division also impedes the CIO’s ability to manage the IT infrastructure and support new technology requirements. Further, TSA faces disparate aviation stakeholder challenges, such as technical limitations and privacy assurance requirements, which largely remain outside of the agency’s control.

(Executive Summary)