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Contact: John Gentzel, Communications Director, 202-225-4315

Rep. Gerlach Urges Swift Action on Air Cargo Screening Procedures

Washington, Dec 6, 2005 -

In a letter sent today to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Congressman Jim Gerlach urged the department to take whatever steps necessary to correct the existing deficiencies in the how the nation’s air cargo is screened. The deficiencies were outlined in an October 2005 report by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) Aviation Security.

“It’s troubling that in this day and age we’re still not taking the appropriate steps to ensure the safe and efficient screening of the cargo that travels on our nation’s airlines,” Rep. Gerlach said. “As a member of the Aviation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, this issue is of additional concern to me. I look forward to hearing from the Homeland Security Department to see where they are in implementing the GAO’s recommendations and what they’re doing to ensure the deficiencies are corrected.”

The GAO found that the Transportation Security Administration completed an air cargo strategic plan outlining a threat-based risk management approach to secure air cargo in November 2003. However, according to the GAO report, the TSA "has not yet established a methodology and schedule for completing assessments of air cargo vulnerabilities and critical assets – two crucial elements of a risk-based management approach without which TSA may not be able to appropriately focus its resources on the most critical security needs."

Based on this finding, GAO recommends that the Department of Homeland Security: "direct TSA to complete assessments of air cargo vulnerabilities and critical assets; the rationale for exiting air cargo inspection exemptions, develop measures to gauge air carrier and indirect carrier compliance; assess the effectiveness of compliance of enforcement actions; and ensure that the data to be used in identifying elevated risk cargo are complete, accurate, and current."

Added Rep. Gerlach: “Because of this recently released information, I am requesting that DHS advise as to what steps are being undertaken immediately to move forward with implementing these recommendations to cure the existing deficiencies in our air cargo security system.”

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