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Government reports criticize United States airport security measures

March 16, 2000
Web posted at: 1:23 p.m. EST (1823 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Airport security remains too lax in some areas, in spite of technological advances and enhanced training, according to two federal reports given Thursday to a House aviation subcommittee.

The United States Department of Transportation and General Accounting Office issued separate criticisms of airport security, delivering them to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Aviation Subcommittee.

In its report, DOT criticized some airports for allowing unauthorized people to enter some secure areas. Agents were able to penetrate restricted areas at six airports, according to the report.

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The department also faulted background checks of potential airport employees, calling them ineffective.

DOT's report also said sophisticated bomb-detection devices, which cost about $1 million dollars each and now are at 30 major airports, remain underused.

The GAO also faulted lax security screening, blaming low pay and poor benefits for a rapid turnover in airport security employees -- a rate that often exceeds 100 percent a year at some airports, the report concluded.

The GAO urged the Federal Aviation Administration to push harder for better pay and training for security screeners.

FAA officials defended their agency, noting that there have been no terrorist acts against airliners in the U.S. nor has there been a U.S. plane hijacking since 1991.

The FAA got some good marks. The DOT report credited the agency for its enhanced computer training for security screeners who are in charge of checking baggage.



RELATED STORIES:
FAA unveils runway safety initiative after House pressure
March 14, 2000
FAA calls for security improvements at U.S. airports
January 7, 2000
FAA proposes regulations to improve baggage screening at U.S. airports
January 6, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Federal Aviation Administration
General Accounting Office
U.S. Transportation Department
Office of Inspector General

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