The Evolution of TSA Risk-Based Security

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Monday, December 8, 2014
Passenger Aircraft in Flight

The threat to the aviation system persists more than a decade following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. We continue to face a real and persistent threat, against actors adept in the design, construction and concealment of explosives, including non-metallic improvised explosive devices. TSA continues to evolve its approach to transportation security and to lower the risks we all face when traveling from, within and to the United States.

In 2011, TSA changed the way it screens the nearly 2 million passengers who fly daily from more than 450 commercial airports in the U.S. We moved from the “one-size-fits-all” approach to more efficient risk-based, intelligence-driven security operations.

Mostly, passengers notice this at airport security checkpoints. The risk-based security approach is not limited to just passenger screening, it also applies to cargo security along with the work we do at train stations, bus depots and seaports.

Since the vast majority of people pose little to no threat to aviation, we can expedite the screening process at airports. This allows TSA to focus more on individuals who may pose an unknown level of risk to the traveling public.

Through risk-based initiatives such as TSA Pre✓®, we are providing effective security while gaining efficiencies and improving the travel experience for millions of passengers each week.

A record number of travelers flew this Thanksgiving holiday period. More than 12.5 million passengers were screened between Nov. 26 and Dec. 2, a 1.3 percent increase from 2013. Nearly 50 percent of these passengers experienced expedited screening. Nationwide, 99.6 percent of passengers waited in a line for less than 20 minutes.

Throughout 2014, we focused on increasing the population of known and trusted travelers receiving TSA Pre✓®. In fact, we enrolled more than 740,000 travelers in the program since opening the first application center in December 2013. We expanded TSA Pre✓® to more than 120 airports and opened more than 300 application centers nationwide.

With more people experiencing TSA Pre✓®, airports are opening more expedited screening lanes and expanding the hours in which those lanes are staffed. Passenger support for TSA Pre✓® is positive and we are confident it will only grow as more people recognize the benefits of this program.

As we continue to adapt our security approach, we work relentlessly to stop commercial airplanes from being turned into weapons used against us and our way of life. Today’s TSA is fully committed to strengthening transportation security in America, while improving the traveler experience. Risk-based, intelligence-driven security is not a concept for the future; it is what we do every day at TSA to keep our nation safe and secure.

John S. Pistole
Transportation Security Administration
Arlington, Va.

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