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Corruption Chronicles

Flights Not So Secure

The federal agency that is supposed to assure airlines are secure from terrorists, has failed to implement a costly screening program to guarantee it, despite spending millions of taxpayer dollars over several years to create it.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) assumed the function of passenger screening after the 2001 terrorist attacks to identify persons who should undergo additional scrutiny, in part, by using government databases.

The government gave the agency $120 million to develop a program called Secure Flight that was supposed to be implemented in 2005. Instead, TSA officials say they need an additional $40 million to get the program running by 2008.

A government audit details the program’s costly flaws and blames the TSA for not following a disciplined life cycle approach to manage the system. It also blasts Secure Flight’s mismanagement and huge cost overruns.

Secure Flight has been a bit of a disaster from the start. Earlier this year program designers discovered that hackers could easily access databases and that at least 82 security vulnerabilities had to be corrected. This discovery came after more than $100 million had already been spent on the program.

Freedom Thinker’s Ed Felton, who served on a committee of technology experts for Secure Flight, says he was convinced that TSA didn’t have a clear idea of what the program was supposed to be doing or how it would work.


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