TSA to be a 'lab' testing security ideas

| Friday, April 18, 2003

The head of the Transportation Security Administration April 18 called on businesses to help develop a national security plan for transportation systems, the National Journal's Technology Daily reports.

TSA Administrator James Loy said TSA "is a rare experiment in government" because it intends to be a "laboratory agency" to test security ideas.

Among the ideas: A TSA initiative to develop an ID to give workers access to critical components of the transportation system. The system will link to background information supplied by the workers and will use biometrics, such as face, fingerprint or iris scans, to ensure their identities.

TSA also wants to link security systems together. But for different systems to work together, a common language is needed, Loy said. For instance, the telecommunications industry has a different lexicon than the shipping industry.

"An IT query is going to be useless if there is not a common language," Loy said.

Homeland security success depends upon mapping the nation's infrastructure and identifying vulnerabilities, Loy said. TSA and the Homeland Security Department's information analysis and infrastructure protection directorate will work on that issue, he added.

Loy also said TSA would seek new technologies to improve security. He said that after his speech, he would work with Charles McQueary, Homeland Security's undersecretary for science and technology, as McQueary developed a priority list of tech needs for the department.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has also asked TSA to prepare a national response plan. It will encompass everything from preventive measures to consequence management, Loy said.

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