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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Report: TSA failed to implement security measures for Amtrak

By Julie Sneider, Senior Associate Editor

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has not yet implemented all the requirements under a nearly 10-year-old law aimed at protecting Amtrak from terror threats, according to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The OIG found the TSA has "limited regulatory oversight" to strengthen passenger security at Amtrak because the agency has not fully implemented the requirements under a law Congress passed in 2007 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"Specifically, TSA has not issued regulations to assign rail carriers to high-risk tiers; established a rail training program; and conducted security background checks of frontline rail employees," the report states. "In the the absence of formal regulations, TSA relies on outreach programs, voluntary initiatives, and recommended
measures to assess and improve rail security for Amtrak."

TSA blames its delay primarily on "complex federal rulemaking process," according to the report.

"Although the rulemaking process can be lengthy, TSA has not prioritized the need to implement these rail security requirements," the report adds. "This is evident from TSA's inability to satisfy these requirements more than eight years after the legislation was passed."

Without implementing the requirements under the law, the TSA's ability to improve passenger-rail security may be diminished, the OIG said.

"The absence of regulations also impacts TSA's ability to require Amtrak to make security improvements that may prevent or deter acts of terrorism," according to the report.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concurred with the OIG's recommendations. Those recommendations call for:
• the TSA administrator to ensure the agency develops and adheres to a detailed, formal milestone plan to deliver the remaining 9/11 Act notices of proposed rulemaking to DHS; and
• the DHS General Counsel to coordinate with the Office of Management and Budget to expedite the implementation of the remaining passenger-rail requirements as called for in the legislation.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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