Congressman Calls for Reshaping TSA Amid New Report on Agency's Weaknesses

A Republican congressman is calling for a reshaping of the Transportation Security Administration after releasing a new federal report that highlights the weaknesses of the agency's behavior detection program.

Rep. John Mica of Florida, the ranking Republican member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said Thursday that a report by the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, confirms that the agency is currently in a state of “complete disarray.”

"GAO's report confirms that TSA has bungled the development and deployment of a potentially important layer of aviation security," Mica said in a news release. "Other countries, such as Israel, successfully employ behavior detection techniques at their airports, but the bloated, ineffective bureaucracy of TSA has produced another security failure for U.S. transportation systems."

TSA now employs over 60,000 people, most of whom work in the Washington, D.C., area.

The GAO report that Mica requested on TSA’s detection program, known as SPOT for Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques, found that the agency has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on methods that have not been validated by science.

Since deployment, the program has failed to identify 16 known terrorists who managed to travel through eight different SPOT airports unspotted. Mica says Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bombing suspect, also went undetected by the program.

Mica asserted that the lack of a TSA administrator -- the Obama administration is on its third nominee after the first two withdrew amid controversy -- has thrown the agency into a state of gridlock, rendering it unable or unwilling to make decisions.

Mica suggested that the agency should streamline its operations.

“We can start with less administration," he said at a news conference. "We could try some private innovation. The system we have in place now is very costly. The system has failed.”