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STATEMENT OF MONTE R. BELGER, ACTING DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR OF THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, SUBCOMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY, TERRORISM, AND GOVERNMENT INFORMATION, ON SECURITY TECHNOLOGY, UNITED STATES SENATE, NOVEMBER 14, 2001.


Chair Feinstein, Senator Kyl, Members of the Subcommittee:

I am pleased to appear before you today to discuss the availability of security related equipment and the status of the development of future technologies, in particular biometrics. In the aftermath of the tragedy that occurred on September 11, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), like the rest of the government, is rethinking our approach to security. The assumptions and strategies that were the basis of aviation security a few short weeks ago are being reassessed. No matter what overall direction and strategies we finally adopt, I want to assure you that the employees of the FAA continue to work tirelessly to identify and implement needed changes.

At the outset, I would like to discuss our most recent initiatives to ensure that all viable security technologies including biometrics, are being adequately considered, and that there is a plan in place to quickly take advantage of those promising technologies that can assist us in our fight against terrorism. In response to one of the recommendations made by the rapid response teams convened by Secretary Mineta in the aftermath of September 11, the FAA was tasked with working with both government and private sector technical experts to identify beneficial security technologies that are ready for deployment, as well as those technologies that merit accelerated development. We will identify technologies that we can deploy, both short term and long term, which can significantly augment the screening of passengers, checked luggage, cargo, and airport and airline employees.

The FAA's efforts to increase airport security since September 11 include the formation of the Aviation Security Biometrics Working Group. This working group, chaired by FAA and the Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice, has brought together representatives of Federal agencies, industry and law enforcement to develop a comprehensive concept of operations for the application of biometrics in aviation security.

The biometrics working group has identified four areas in which biometrics can be used to improve aviation security: (1) employee identity verification and access authorization to secured areas within an airport; (2) protection of public areas in and around airports through surveillance to prevent harm to airports and aircraft; (3) passenger protection and identity verification which would involve enrolling passengers in a national identification system, and likely to have multiple biometrics; and (4) aircrew identity verification both on the ground and en-route. Biometrics that can be applied for the purpose of passenger, employee and aircrew identification include iris, hand geometry, fingerprint, voice and facial recognition. Facial recognition has potential to enhance aviation security through surveillance, as the technology matures.

Prior to the September 11th attacks, airports had started to test the utility of biometrics for improving airport security, and integrating biometric systems into their security programs. For example, San Francisco International Airport has been using hand geometry systems to control access to secure areas since 1992. Chicago's O'Hare airport installed a pilot system using fingerprint biometrics for increasing speed and security for cargo truck deliveries at the airport. Also, Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, in cooperation with US Airways, conducted a pilot program in which iris recognition technology was used to verify employee identification before allowing access to secure areas. Additionally, the Immigration and Naturalization Service uses the INS Passenger Accelerated Service System (INSPASS), a hand geometry technology, at nine international airports to expedite frequent travelers' processing into the United States.

Biometric technology has the potential to greatly improve aviation security and is one of the most commonly recommended technologies for doing so. Although there are still questions regarding this promising technology and its effects on the privacy and civil rights of the American people, resolving these issues remains a priority for both Secretary Mineta and the Administrator. Of course, the new security measures have been and would continue to be implemented in a manner consistent with our commitment to protecting passenger and employee civil rights.

In addition to the biometrics working group initiative, on October 25, the FAA convened its security research and advisory committee, chaired by John Klinkenberg, Vice-President for Security for Northwest Airlines, to work toward achieving our security goals. This committee will evaluate over 1,000 recommendations made to the FAA by various industry sources. The Administrator asked that the committee provide her with a report on its initial recommendations by the end of November. The Administrator expects the report to identify the most promising technologies for providing early security benefits to the flying public, as well as their suggested implementation strategies. Likewise, the report will identify promising longer term technologies that are worthy of accelerated development.

The FAA is also sponsoring its third International Aviation Security Technology Symposium in Atlantic City, New Jersey from November 27 through November 30. This symposium will feature numerous sessions on diverse security topics including human factors, deployment of new explosives detection equipment, emerging technologies, aircraft hardening initiatives, cargo screening, and integrated security systems. Attendees will have the opportunity to view, first hand, vendors' security technologies. The symposium, which is also sponsored by the National Safe Skies Alliance, Airports Council International, Air Transport Association, and the American Association of Airport Executives, was planned before the terrorist attacks, but it is now that much more critical for identifying those technologies that can help meet the challenges we face in this new era of heightened aviation security.

Now that I have provided an overview of some of our most recent security initiatives, I would also like to provide a broader overview of our efforts to enhance security through technology. The goal of aviation security is to prevent harm to passengers, crew and aircraft, as well as to support national security and counter-terrorism policy. How we achieve that goal now requires that we take a comprehensive look at how airport screening is undertaken from workforce, technology, and procedural standpoints. The Administration is looking at all options and has not ruled out any alternative at this time.

Four years ago, the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security (the Commission) issued 57 recommendations, the majority of which focused on improving aviation security. Most importantly, the Commission acknowledged that aviation security was a national issue that required a national focus and reliable funding. In the area of security technology, it was recommended that FAA deploy existing security technologies, establish standards for developing technologies, and work with other government agencies and industry to develop new technologies. Thanks to Congressional support of these recommendations, the FAA has spent $445 million in the past five years to purchase explosives detection systems (EDS), explosives trace detection (ETD) devices and threat image projection (TIP) ready x-ray machines. In fiscal year 2002, we plan to spend an additional $293 million, the full production level for EDS equipment, should we receive the President's funding requests.

One hundred fifty-nine EDS machines have been installed at airports across the country and we are working to deploy over 20 more in the coming months. In addition, we need to work with the companies that manufacture the systems to see how quickly they can produce more systems for continued deployment. Products of two EDS vendors have been certified and variations of these products are currently going through the certification process. Prior to September 11, EDS was primarily used to screen checked bags belonging to persons identified by the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS). CAPPS allows the air carrier to focus EDS screening on a manageable number of passengers, for example, those whom we cannot discount as potential threats to civil aviation, based on parameters developed within the counter-terrorism community and reviewed by the Department of Justice to ensure that the methods of passenger selection do not result in illegal discrimination. CAPPS also selects passenger bags on a random basis for additional screening. In the aftermath of September 11, FAA has committed to increasing the number of passenger bags that are randomly screened. Furthermore, EDS machines are now running continuously at those airports to which they have been deployed, CAPPS has been adjusted and passengers and their carry-on items are being screened on a continuous basis at the boarding gate.

In addition to EDS, FAA is currently purchasing ETD devices from the three vendors with FAA approved products. These devices can detect the presence of explosive materials in a passenger's checked or carry-on bags. As of last Friday, we had installed 884 ETD devices in 177 airports across the country.

Another tool available to test and measure screener proficiency is software technology, known as the Threat Image Projection (TIP) system, installed on conventional x-ray machines. TIP electronically inserts images of possible threats (e.g., a gun, a knife, or an explosive device) on a x-ray monitor. The monitors show the image as if it were within a bag being screened. Its purpose is to provide training, keep screeners alert, and measure screener performance. High scores detecting TIP images equate to a high probability of detecting actual bombs and dangerous weapons. Not only can TIP data be potentially used to assess screener performance over time, but the results can also be used to analyze any correlation between performance and experience. New images will be added to the FAA-approved TIP library being installed on the x-ray machines at the security checkpoints to improve screener vigilance and training. To date, 741 of these units have been deployed to 75 U.S. airports for checkpoint screening.

Aside from those technologies approved by the FAA, there are a variety of technologies in various stages of development. As is the case with other areas in which the FAA has regulatory oversight, FAA sets a security standard airlines and airports must meet. It is routine in the airline industry for individual carriers or airports to exceed FAA standards in certain areas and I think we need to look at how that approach might be incorporated with respect to aviation security.

Although, FAA does not currently require airports or airlines to have EDS, if they do have the equipment, we require them to use it. We will continue to work aggressively so that every screening checkpoint gets the equipment it needs to ensure a more effective aviation security system

We also need to determine whether other security technologies currently in development can be effectively used by airlines and airports. For example, there are a number of backscatter technologies, chem/bio trace detection, and portal screening technologies that are in different stages of development. As I mentioned earlier, biometrics (e.g., iris and finger print identification) are currently being tested in the operational environment. The Rapid Response Team on Airport Security also recommended that we should move to a greater use of positive identification technologies. We are considering this recommendation and we are working with industry to see whether and how all of these efforts can be incorporated into airline and airport operations to improve aviation security, while upholding America's steadfast commitment to the protection of civil rights. To this end, we have met and will continue to meet with civil rights groups to discuss how we can ensure continued protection of Americans' civil rights as we incorporate enhanced security measures, including some of the new technologies.

Just to make sure that we are not missing anything that is out there, FAA issued an announcement that appears on our web site (www.faa.gov) requesting information about any product or technology that could be helpful in improving aviation security. As you can imagine, this requires sorting through a great deal of information. So, while there does not appear to be a single technology that addresses all of our security concerns, we are committed to working through the various options available to us.

The Secretary of Transportation, the FAA Administrator and the entire Administration are doing everything in our power to bring the nation's air transportation system back into full operation with the highest levels of safety possible. Recently, Secretary Mineta directed FAA special agents to crack down on airport and air carrier security deficiencies by taking decisive steps, including clearing concourses, re-screening passengers, and even holding flights where appropriate. This action reflects both the Department's and the FAA's unyielding commitment to civil aviation security and the restoration of public confidence in the nation's air transportation system. It is clear that through constant vigilance, the application of new technologies and procedures, and assistance from its national and international partners, the FAA will succeed in its civil aviation security mission.

Because civil aviation exists in a dynamic environment, the FAA must develop a security system that optimizes the strengths of a number of different technologies. This system must be responsive to potential means of attack and must be able to anticipate future risk to the civil aviation environment. In a democracy, there is always a need to balance freedom and security. Our transportation systems, reflecting the value of our society, have always operated in an open and accessible manner, and we are working hard to ensure that they will do so again.

This concludes my prepared remarks. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.