Davis asks hard questions of TSA

Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., wants some answers from the Transportation Security Administration after weapons and other suspicious materials were found last week on two Southwest Airlines planes.

"These two incidents were not merely embarrassments to America's transportation security apparatus," Davis wrote in an Oct. 18 letter to James Loy, TSA administrator. "As a result of the discovery, TSA ordered all 7,000 aircraft in the commercial fleet to be searched, thus increasing costs to carriers, the federal government and ultimately the consumer."

The alleged perpetrator reportedly sent e-mails to TSA warning of security lapses and providing dates and places where he would plant the items. The items, including box cutters, were found Oct. 16.

Davis, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, is asking TSA to explain its passenger screening procedures and will begin a review of TSA operations.

Davis wants TSA to provide information to the committee by Nov. 3, including:

*A written overview of testing procedures and training used to certify airport-screening personnel.

*Information on the annual screener certification program, including the performance screeners must achieve to be certified and the steps taken with employees who fail.

*Results of the screener performance improvement study and actions planned to address any deficiencies it identified.

*Performance metrics for the contractors hired to conduct testing and training, and whether they are given incentives for generating higher pass rates.

*Performance standards used to evaluate airport screeners, and how often the standards are reviewed.

*An explanation of the command structure for TSA passenger screening checkpoints, including training supervisors and their performance metrics.

*Information on the TSA's program for covert testing of passenger screening operations.

*A briefing on the Southwest Airlines incident, the results of the investigation to date, and whether additional prohibited items were found during the search of all commercial aircraft.

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