written by CBS News Investigative producer Laura Strickler and intern Hannah Chanpong
The Transportation Security Administration is lagging behind a mandate to inspect all cargo flown on passenger planes by this August, according to a new government report.
Researchers at the Government Accountability Office found that even though TSA increased screening for domestic cargo to meet new requirements of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, the agency "does not expect to meet the mandate" for cargo coming to the United States from other countries.
By May 2010, TSA had upped the amount of domestic cargo that it inspects from 50 to 75 percent. Inbound cargo, however, isn't always subject to the same scrutiny before it boards a domestic flight. GAO reports that 96 percent of inbound cargo, which could hold fresh produce, electronics or car parts, is "shrink-wrapped" or "banded" and often exempt from screening.
GAO also found low participation in a voluntary Certified Cargo Screening Program created by TSA to encourage shippers and freight companies to screen domestic cargo.
Billions of pounds of cargo fly with passengers in the U.S. every year, according to the GAO. Officials have asked TSA to create a backup plan because after next month, unscreened cargo won't leave the runway.