|Industry Still in Limbo on TSA Report|
|Written by Stephane Babcock|
|Monday, 01 September 2008 00:00|
Final report will not be available until October
Although the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has put its final touches on the national public school bus fleet vulnerability threat assessment, it will be a several weeks before Congress and the school bus industry gets its hands on it. As part of the Implementing the Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, the TSA has 60 days from when the report was completed until it actually must be submitted to Congress.
“TSA looks forward to continuing our close working relationship with the school transportation industries as we finalize this risk assessment report and work together with industry and the Department of Education to provide a secure learning environment to America’s students,” said Ray Cotton, deputy general manager of the TSA’s Office of Highway and Motor Carrier (HMC).
National School Transportation Association members were given the latest news on the report by TSA HMC General Manager William Arrington during its annual conference in mid-July. According to Arrington, special attention is being given to school buses because of the large number of vehicles and riders on the roads each day.
The Road to the CompletionSince it was mandated by Congress to complete a full risk assessment to the 25 million students who ride school buses every school day, the TSA has made it a point to meet with the industry and related agencies on five separate occasions. The first meeting was conducted as a teleconference and included a number of industry representatives last December, the second took place at the Transporting Students with Disabilities & Preschoolers national conference in March, and the third was in Washington, D.C., during the NSTA annual spring board meeting and lobbying day with approximately 25 attendees.
“We also had two separate meetings with labor union reps and a separate meeting with law enforcement,” said TSA spokesperson Andrea McCauley.
After going over some background information, including the original congressional mandate and the 9/11 bill requirements, the meeting participants were given a threat briefing from the TSA’s Office of Intelligence, an overview of the project where a risk model was discussed and then given a current status of the assessment. School bus industry members were then asked to give opinions on scenario development, vulnerability, consequences, and management of strategies and countermeasures of a terrorist attack on a school buses.
Other Efforts and Possible ResultsAside from the handful of meetings convened by the TSA, an online survey was also sent out to a number of participants, including some that are skeptical of Congress’ response to the final report.
“The best case scenario for Congress’ reaction would be for Congress to realize that TSA hasn’t taken this seriously and put the resources behind a serious process,” said Washington State Director Allan J. Jones. “Worst case would be for Congress to nod and smile and say, ‘keep up the good work.’”
A letter sent out announcing the survey stated:
“This approach provides a forum for working across the broad spectrum of activities needed to support and coordinate critical infrastructure protection, allowing engagement of the (Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council) owner/operator institutions and their designated trade or equivalent organizations as members of Sector Coordinating Councils (SCCs) and representatives from Federal, state, local and tribal governmental entities identified as members of Government Coordinating Councils (GCCs).”
Even with this additional effort by the TSA, Jones is not alone in his opinion of what might be the results of this year-long effort. Ron Kinney, past state pupil transportation for California, believes it will depend on the scope, depth and quality of the report to Congress.
“A basis for comparison will likely be previous vulnerability assessment studies completed on U.S. public transit and motorcoach industries,” added Kinney, who now spearheads marketing efforts for First Student’s California operations.
A previous vulnerability assessment of the motorcoach industry in May 2003 resulted in federal grant funding to increase security.
|Last Updated on Monday, 11 January 2010 09:08|