The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security held a hearing on the Transportation Security Administration's Surface Transportation Security Inspection Program (STSIP).
Members examined the program's efficiency and its ability to secure U.S. mass transit systems, in comparison with other surface transportation security initiatives, such as the Transit Security Grant Program.
John O’Connor, Amtrak’s Police Chief, told subcommittee members that Amtrak’s experience with this program has been mixed and changes are needed to improve efficiency.
The Subcommittee also heard from other industry stakeholders, including CSX Vice President Skip Elliott, Bulldog Hiway Express President Philip L. Byrd Sr. and Greyhound Lines Inc. COO William C. Blankenship.
As part of the STSIP program, inspectors perform surveys and conduct inspections of freight rail operations to check for compliance with voluntary security measures, as well as conduct vulnerability assessments and regulatory compliance inspections.
The program was created in 2005 to provide oversight and assistance to the surface transportation industry. Since 2008, the program’s workforce has more than doubled.
Subcommittee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) said that over the last few years the budget for STSIP has quadrupled, while "some stakeholders have expressed concern about the value of the program and questioned whether it provides a tangible security benefit....We owe it to taxpayers to take a close look at TSA's inspectors program and determine whether this is a good use of limited resources, or if this funding would be better spent on other surface initiatives designed to prevent an attack. "