TSA's $1B SPOT Program as Effective as Flipping a Coin

Screening 'the same as or slightly better than chance'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2013 8:40 AM CST
TSA's $1B SPOT Program as Effective as Flipping a Coin
A passenger is briefed by a TSA trainer before going through a new expedited security line Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011 in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Nearly $1 billion spent on a TSA behavioral screening program may have been better spent in Vegas. Started in 2007 at a cost of $200 million a year, the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program trains officers to scan crowded airports for suspicious-looking people. There's just one problem: There's "no evidence behavior detention works," a GAO report has found, noting the results of identification from SPOT, which employs 3,000 officers across the country, are "the same as or slightly better than chance," reports NBC News.

The report, which looked at 400 studies over 60 years, has called for a slash in funding until the TSA "can provide scientifically validated evidence"—but Homeland Security says there's plenty out there. In a response, it said studies supporting behavior detection were left out of the GAO's report and the program's different techniques result in "misleading" conclusions. The TSA calls the program "a common sense approach," CBS News reports, but Rep. Bennie Thompson tells the Washington Post it "is fundamentally flawed, cannot be proven effective, and should no longer be funded with taxpayer dollars." (Read more Government Accountability Office stories.)

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