TSA Allowed People with Criminal Records to Get Airport Security Badges

By:  Michael Tennant
TSA Allowed People with Criminal Records to Get Airport Security Badges

In the aftermath of a bungled project, the Transportation Security Administration allowed airports to give security clearance to people without first doing background checks on them — and it has no idea who these people are.

The federal government has entrusted the security of the nation’s airports to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Yet according to a recent report from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), the agency’s bungling of an airport security badge vetting program allowed at least 11 individuals with criminal backgrounds to obtain access to secured airport areas. What’s more, says the OIG, because of the TSA’s lack of oversight, some individuals with criminal records may retain such access to this day.

According to the OIG, the TSA initially selected a single vendor, the American Association of Airport Executives’ (AAAE) Transportation Security Clearinghouse, to relay background check information to the TSA, which then submits the data for a Criminal History Records Check and a Security Threat Assessment. Only individuals who pass both screenings are to be given badges granting them unescorted access to secured airport areas.

Responding to requests from airports, the TSA created the Aviation Channeling Services Provider (ASCP) program in 2010 to offer them a choice of vendors for the badge vetting process. The next year it selected three vendors to participate in the program: AAAE, Telos ID, and L1 Identity Solutions (now MorphoTrust Enrollment Solutions).

This being a government project, it comes as no surprise that the OIG found that the TSA “did not properly plan, manage, and implement” it. In fact, the “project is still not completely implemented and continues to face challenges to accomplish its mission.” As of July 1, 2012, only a single airport had switched vendors (from AAAE to Telos ID), and MorphoTrust Enrollment Solutions was just beginning the testing phase of the project.

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