United States General Accounting Office
Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System Faces Significant Implementation
of GAO-04-385, a report to congressional committees
Why GAO Did This Study:
security of U.S. commercial aviation is a long-standing concern, and substantial efforts have been undertaken to strengthen
it. One of these efforts is the development of a new Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II) to identify
passengers requiring additional security attention. The development of CAPPS II has raised a number of issues, including whether
individuals may be inappropriately targeted for additional screening, and whether data accessed by the system may compromise
passengers・privacy. GAO was asked to determine --
(1) the development status and plans for CAPPS II;
(2) the status of CAPPS II in addressing key developmental, operational, and public acceptance issues;
(3) other challenges that could impede the successful
implementation of the system.
What GAO Found:
Key activities in the development of CAPPS II have been delayed, and the Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) has not yet completed important system planning activities. TSA is currently behind schedule
in testing and developing initial increments of CAPPS II, due in large part to delays in obtaining needed passenger data for
testing from air carriers because of privacy concerns. TSA also has not established a complete plan identifying specific system
functionality that will be delivered, the schedule for delivery, and estimated costs. The establishment of such plans is critical
to maintaining project focus and achieving intended results within budget. Without such plans, TSA is at an increased risk
of CAPPS II not providing the promised functionality, of its deployment being delayed, and of incurring increased costs throughout
the system痴 development.
TSA also has not completely addressed seven of the eight issues identified
by the Congress as key areas of interest related to the development, operation, and public acceptance of CAPPS II.
Although TSA is in various stages of progress on addressing each of these eight issues, as of January 1, 2004, only one葉he
establishment of an internal oversight board to review the development of CAPPS II揺as been fully addressed. However,
concerns exist regarding the timeliness of the board痴 future reviews. Other issues, including ensuring the accuracy
of data used by CAPPS II, stress testing, preventing unauthorized access to the system, and resolving privacy concerns have
not been completely addressed, due in part to the early stage of the system痴 development. The following table is a
summary of TSA痴status in addressing the eight key issues.
[See PDF for image]
[End of table]
GAO identified three additional challenges TSA faces that may impede the
success of CAPPS II. These challenges are developing the international cooperation needed to obtain passenger data, managing
the possible expansion of the program痴 mission beyond its original purpose, and ensuring that identity theft擁n
which an individual poses as and uses information of another individual幼annot be used to negate the security benefits
of the system. GAO believes that these issues, if not resolved, pose major risks to the successful deployment and
implementation of CAPPS II.
What GAO Recommends:
GAO is making recommendations to the Secretary, Department of Homeland Security
(DHS), to develop project plans, including schedules and estimated costs, to guide CAPPS II development; establish a plan
for completing critical security activities; create a risk mitigation strategy for system testing; establish policies governing
program oversight; and develop a process by which passengers can get erroneous information corrected. DHS generally concurred
with the report and its recommendations.
Key areas of concern not addressed--
[excerpted from full report]
As of January 1, 2004, TSA has not fully addressed seven of the eight
CAPPS II issues identified by the Congress as key areas of interest, due in part to the early stage of the system's development.
These issues relate to (1)the effective management and monitoring of the system's development and operation and (2) the public's
acceptance of the system through the protection of passengers' privacy and enabling passengers to seek redress when errors
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has addressed
one of the eight issues by establishing an internal oversight board to review the development of major DHS systems, including
DHS and TSA are taking steps to address the remaining seven issues,
however, they have not yet:
* determined and verified the accuracy of the databases to be used by CAPPS II,
* stress tested and demonstrated the accuracy and effectiveness
of all search tools to be used by CAPPS II,
* completed a security plan to reduce opportunities for abuse and protect
the system from unauthorized access,
* adopted policies to establish effective oversight of the use and operation of
* identified and addressed all privacy concerns, and:
* developed and documented a process under
which passengers impacted by CAPPS II can appeal decisions and correct erroneous information.