Little Difference Found Between Private And Federal
Rear Adm. David M.
Stone, Acting Administrator for the Transportation Security
Administration (TSA), last week released the executive summary of a
commissioned report that compares the agency's federal airport
screeners with privately contracted screeners working in five
test-bed airports. Kansas City International Airport, which is
handled by FirstLine Transportation Security, in partnership
with the TSA, was cited for excellent performance.
The PP5, as the five airports are known, include San Francisco
International Airport (SFO); Kansas City International Airport
(MCI); Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC) in New York;
Jackson Hole Airport (JAC), Jackson Hole (WY) and Tupelo (MS)
Regional Airport (TUP).
BearingPoint, the report's author, compared performance of the
PP5 private screeners with TSA's federal screeners and found:
Security Effectiveness. There is no evidence that any of the
five privately screened airports performed below the average level
of federalized airports. The report concludes there is credible
data that in some areas, Kansas City private screeners performed
above the average level of their federal counterparts.
While the report was not intended to address the future of either
the federal or private screener model, it will provide important
data for TSA as the agency develops the program in which individual
airports can choose between the two.
"These results reflect
the fact that all screeners -- federal and private -- meet the same
demanding hiring requirements, pass the same rigorous training
regimen, and follow the same standard operating procedures," Stone
According to John DeMell, president of FirstLine, "We are
pleased with the results from the summary report. Through our
partnership with the TSA and Rich Curasi, the TSA Federal Security
Director in Kansas City, we have been able to work together to
develop and implement an approach that delivers exceptional
security services, training methods and customer service. We are
proud of our employees in Kansas City, but all of us recognize that
this is an ongoing task. We remain committed to working with the
TSA to provide the highest level of security service for America's
The Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 (ATSA)
required TSA to contract for private screeners at five airports as
part of a pilot program to evaluate their performance against that
of federal employees who screen passengers and baggage at more than
440 airports. The law also calls for TSA to report to Congress with
the results of the program and develop a protocol for other
airports wishing to follow the private-screener model. To this end,
TSA contracted with BearingPoint, Inc. to evaluate the performance
of private contract screeners. ATSA also requires that all
screeners (Federal and non-Federal) meet certain specified
background, skill, and training requirements. It further requires
that screeners employed by private screening companies receive
compensation and other benefits that are not less than the level
provided to Federal screeners.
The law also allows, beginning on November 19, 2004, any airport
operator to apply to TSA to opt-out of federal screening in favor
of a private company. The final decision regarding any application
will be made by the TSA Administrator.