House Passes Bill Requiring TSA To Disclose Changes To Its Tech Investment Plan

A Transportation Security Administration agent checks traveling documents of a passenger at Miami International Airport.

A Transportation Security Administration agent checks traveling documents of a passenger at Miami International Airport. Alan Diaz/AP

The legislation is designed to ensure businesses "have the certainty they need to continue developing the technology that we rely on to keep us safe,” Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., said.

The House today passed legislation that would require the Transportation Security Administration to update Congress on any changes made to its 5-year technology investment plan.

The Transparency in Technological Acquisitions Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., directs TSA to submit any changes to its strategic plan within 90 days both to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and to the House Homeland Security Committee.

Specifically, Congress wants to know about changes reflecting "an increase or decrease in the dollar amount" for the purchase of specific technology "or an increase or decrease in the number of a technology," the bill said. It also requires TSA to share detail on any technology still in operation after the manufacturer's specified end of life cycle and the "end of the useful life projection" for products mentioned in the strategic plan.

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The bill amends the 2002 Homeland Security Act, which established the Homeland Security Department, to require this information be submitted to Congress. TSA released a 5-year strategic plan for technology partners in 2015, an announcement from Rice's office said, but by the time the Obama administration's budget for the year was released, the agency's priorities and acquisition timeline had changed.

The legislation is designed to ensure businesses "have the certainty they need to continue developing the technology that we rely on to keep us safe,” Rice said in a statement. A more robust dialogue between TSA and tech manufacturers could foster “more technological innovation, which ... we can use to confront the new and evolving threats facing our aviation industry."

It also requires TSA to report on the status of its 5-year investment plan annually instead of once every two years, aside from any updates. The TSA administrator is also required to let airports and airlines know about any changes made to the plan.

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