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Hice Measure to Strengthen Aviation Safety Advances House Homeland Security Committee

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Washington, DC , March 7, 2018 | comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Jody Hice (R-GA), vice-chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, today applauded the unanimous passage of H.R. 4467, the Strengthening Aviation Security Act, through the House Homeland Security Committee. This measure, which Hice introduced in November, mandates that the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) deploy its personnel for domestic and international flight coverage using risk-based strategies.

“With escalating threats across the globe, we must remain a step ahead of our adversaries by taking every precaution to protect our skies,” said Congressman Hice. “My bill, the Strengthening Aviation Security Act, will institute much-needed guidelines when it comes to where and how FAMS allocates its air marshals.”

“In order to avoid future attacks on our planes, it’s necessary that we use both qualitative and quantitative threat assessments to ascertain which flights are most at risk,” Hice continued. “We need to be using every tool at our disposal to deter, detect, and disrupt plots to undermine or attack our flights. I’m very proud that my bill has passed committee, and I’m hopeful that this commonsense and bipartisan bill will continue moving through the legislative process.”

Background:

FAMS is a U.S. law enforcement agency within the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that deploys federally-trained air marshal agents on U.S. aircraft worldwide. In 2016, the Government Accountability Office published a report that found that TSA and FAMS fail to adequately factor in risk when determining its deployment strategies. Under the current system, FAMS considers its travel budget and number of personnel as factors to determine how to allocate its resources for international and domestic flights, but does not account for risk in the decision process. For domestic missions, allocation decisions are made based on the professional judgement of subject matter experts, not on risk-assessments. Further, this report found that FAMS does not document the reasons for its international deployment decisions. Without this vital information, there is no verifiable method to determine whether the decisions are intelligence-driven, risk-based, or even in compliance with TSA or DHS directives.

On November 27, 2017, the Air Marshal Association wrote a letter in support of the legislation.

The Strengthening Aviation Security Act would:

·         Require FAMS to use risk management, travel budget, and number of air marshal personnel when distributing resources between domestic and international flight coverage;
·         Conduct a threat assessment to support domestic deployment decisions; and
·         Provide Congress with the documented methodology used by FAMS to conduct risk assessments.

The full bill text can be found here.  

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