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TSA Evaluates Private Screeners At Five Airports

Little Difference Found Between Private And Federal Screeners

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 said.

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 traveling public."

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.

FMI: www.firstlinets.com

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