July 27 (UPI) -- The Government Accountability Office on Monday recommended that the Transportation Security Administration establish "quantifiable targets" for its Surface Transportation Security Inspectors Program because it remains vulnerable to terrorism and other attacks.
The TSA is part of the Department of Homeland Security and was created to provide security for the traveling public after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
While it is best known for its screening officers at airports around the country, the TSA also employs federal air marshals on planes, mobile teams of dog handlers, explosive specialists and conducts surface transportation inspections.
"The nation's surface transportation system includes nearly 140,000 miles of railroad track and 4 million miles of roads," the GAO said in its report. "It supports nearly 10 billion mass transit trips annually.
"[The TSA] secures, inspects, and assesses the surface transportation system -- which may be vulnerable to terrorist and other threats because it is difficult to monitor and secure completely. TSA has set goals for its inspection program, but it has not set measurable targets to assess how well its security activities are working or to guide needed changes," the GAO said.
The GAO said currently the TSA cannot comprehensively ensure surface inspectors are targeting program resources to high-risk modes and locations because it does not consistently collect information for its performance and results information system, known as PARIS.
"Targets indicate how well an agency aspires to perform and could include, for example, entity scores on TSA security assessments, among others," the GAO said. "By developing targets, TSA would be better positioned to assess the surface inspector program's progress in achieving its objective of increasing security among surface transportation entities."
Such entities include mass transit, freight rail, highway motor carrier and pipelines along with supporting maritime security.