A GAO study found that TSA uses data to monitor passenger wait times and throughput, the number of passengers that are screened at each airport checkpoint, on a daily basis and responds to increases.
GAO carried out its study because of questions that were raised about TSA’s process for allocating TSOs to airports after long screening checkpoint lines at certain U.S. airports.
For example, TSA’s Airport Operations Center (AOC) monitors daily wait times and passenger throughput from 28 airports that TSA officials say represent the majority of passenger throughput nationwide or are operationally significant. Furthermore, TSA officials at airports are required to report to the AOC when an event occurs — such as equipment malfunctions — that affects airport screening operations and results in wait times that are greater than 30 minutes in standard screening lanes.
For its February 2018 report, GAO analyzed wait time data for the AOC-monitored airports for the period of January 2015 through May 2017 and found that TSA’s reported wait times met its standard of less than 30 minutes in standard screening 99 percent of the time. Within that timeframe, two airports accounted for the longest wait times in the spring of 2016. TSA officials also identified several tools, such as passenger screening canines, that they reported using to respond to increases in passenger wait times at these airports.