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  • TSA Gets A Pat-Down on Screener Privatization

    Today, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released a scathing report that deconstructed the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) claims regarding the Screening Partnership Program (SPP).

    The SPP, created under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001, grants airports the ability to opt out of using federal screeners and instead rely on private screeners to perform security functions.

    TSA back in January cancelled expansion of the SPP and declined to approve any more applications for airports seeking to privatize. TSA Administrator John Pistole stated that he did “not see any clear or substantial advantage” in expanding the program further.

    It is doubtful that most Americans would agree. Frustration over TSA’s approach to security is at an all-time high. From wholesale screening of travelers—forcing Americans to choose between a full body scan or a pat-down—to stopping programs that actually provide better customer service, TSA’s aviation security strategy is highly suspect.

    The committee’s report makes a pretty compelling case to say that privatization of screening functions makes absolute sense. Here a few of the highlights:

    • The SPP saves taxpayer dollars. In fact, the report cited a screening cost of $4.22 per passenger for a federal screening workforce, as opposed to only $2.42 per passenger for private screeners. Furthermore, the report indicated that “taxpayers would save more than $38.6 million a year if LAX [for example] joined the SPP,” which would reduce personnel by 867 people.
    • Private screeners are more efficient. The committee emphasized that private screeners were 65 percent more efficient than an all-federal screening force. In fact, they are so efficient that “taxpayers would save $1 billion over five years if the Nation’s top 35 airports operated as efficiently as SFO [San Francisco International Airport—a private screening force airport] does under the SPP model.”
    • Federal screeners are very costly. In fact, TSA cost estimates—which claim that private screeners are more expensive than federal screeners—have often failed to account for the cost of hiring and attrition that has come with managing an overly bureaucratic federal workforce. With attrition levels at 13.8 percent at LAX (a federal workforce airport)—it is easy to rack up the costs of constantly finding new employees. In fact, TSA has often resorted to using a “National Deployment Force”—a group of people paid with taxpayer dollars to run around the country and fill gaps in the screening force when necessary. These run a huge price tag in terms of in hotels, per diem, and other costs.
    • More flexibility and better morale means better customer service. At a bare minimum, the flexibility, efficiency, and better morale of private screeners will translate into better customer service—making plane travel a lot less annoying for travelers.
    • The SPP maintains security. SPP airports are still under TSA oversight, meaning they have to meet the same standards as federal-screener-run airports.

    TSA, for its part, has made a very half-hearted justification for why SPP should not continue. The government has claimed that the SPP is more expensive—yet it never included training costs or the deployment of the National Deployment Force. TSA also never studied how efficient the screeners performed.

    Unfortunately, the motives behind this decision were embarrassingly transparent when TSA moved shortly thereafter to engage in limited collective bargaining for federal screeners.

    Efforts to placate labor unions shouldn’t form the basis of security policy. As committee chairman John Mica (R–FL) stated, “TSA needs to get out of the personnel business and get in the security business.”

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    20 Responses to TSA Gets A Pat-Down on Screener Privatization

    1. Lisa, Cedar Rapids, says:

      TSA is so despicable, in my opinion, I can't even wrap my head around it. We have spent over $50 BILLION dollars of taxpayer money on this agency. They have tested themselves and come up with a 70% failure rate at stopping contraband from being loaded onto aircraft. They are conducting nude body scans and invasive patdowns on United States citizens without just cause.

      And now they have a monopoly on airport screening. They won't even allow anyone else to come in and try and do better. That is just not acceptable.

      Expensive. Ineffective. Offensive. TSA.

    2. Bobbie says:

      Agree with Mr. Mica 100%.

      How much of a cost would it be to have the less intrusive to the law abiding, more accurate to the cause, bomb sniffing dogs? And why isn't it being considered???

    3. OhioHistorian says:

      These issues need to become front and center for the election campaign in 2012. This action, coupled with actions like the NLRB at Boeing, show a blatant disregard for private enterprise. Add in the push not to sell the government piece of Chrysler, continued ownership of GM stock at a huge loss, and you see a lack of privatization and a desire to unionize the country coming at its citizens.

      The screeners are only the tip of the iceberg. We need wholesale revision in the services provided by the Federal government. We need to increase the efficiency of our country, and the Federal workforce is a good place to start.

    4. Dr. Gary Myers OD says:

      This administration is all about empowering unions or rather their leadership. This is just one more example.

    5. David, Clintonville, says:

      Remarkable. A House of Representatives committee releases a report. The report documents what Americans suspected, and now know, about TSA's performance and cost to provide "security screening" at America's airports. TSA is clearly expensive and incompetent – it provides inadequate service at outrageous cost. So…

      What will happen now? Will Congress act? Will someone in the federal government actually do something about the situation? Can Americans expect improvement? If so, when will TSA be "reformed," or (please) abolished? Might we expect better than we see with Amtrak or Postal Service management? Is there any reason to be optimistic, or must I continue to refuse to fly?

      So many questions without answers. This is not good.

    6. Deb, Michigan says:

      I'm appalled at the number of sheeple the TSA has bamboozled into thinking they are safer because they've got you by the balls. They can't keep a darn watch list up to date and accurate so we all lose our dignity and liberty.

      Hey congress, you are allowing yourselves to become less relevant by the day.

    7. John says:

      The terrorists have won.

      They have our government violating our rights in the name of "protecting' us. And a disturbingly high percentage of Americans are happy to sacrifice their freedom in order to "feel safe."

    8. John says:

      Congressman Mica:

      Nice report, really nice report. NOW DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Or is this report going into the drawer like a million other government reports.

      You'll get points from me for this — when you actually do something about it — but I'm not holding my breath.

    9. Mark Mayfield, San A says:

      I was a security screener at San Antonio International Airport (SAT). I worked for Wackenhut. While the pay was not that great, we had a far better success rate and very low attrition. We were all friends at work and after. We worked well as a team and kept the lines moving. We were paid by the airlines so the cost to the taxpayers was nil. No unions, no collective bargaining. Just the occasional pay increase bargaining with the airlines. No invasive pat-downs. The only thing I didn't like is that we couldn't detain unruly passengers. We had to call in airport police. I predicted 9/11 due to the inadequecies of the old system. But, the tactics of the TSA go overboard. TSA is way too expensive for the type of service they are providing. Privatization with the more modern equipment is all that our airports need to get the job done efficiently and safely.

      • Phillip says:

        The airport authorities can start to invest in their own technology. They can invest in their own liquid scanners, shoe scanners, and other useful technology to make airport security more convenient. The TSA are not approving any of this useful technology but spending way more for absolutely useless technology. Israel are using the MagShoe technology in TLV and it's a true success bit the TSA won't approve of it because it's not effective enough. That 100% is a lie and the TSA are deceiving us through this security theater so people will 'feel safer' without being safer.

    10. Tom Cape Girardeau, says:

      The TSA screener's are just thugs and bullies. Period. These people are ANIMALS! You give anyone, a Badge and a Position of outright authority, such as the TSA people, and all hell will play out and it has. These people are disgusting. Groping and molesting U.S. CITIZENS under the stupid guise of " Security and Safety "? Who are you kidding. I refuse to fly and I don't. I criss cross this Nation in a Car because I will pysically harm anyone who grab's my Ball's in the name of Security? No, I don't think so.

      You see. I PERSONALLY NEVER AGREED to be sexually assaulted in the name of freedom and travel inside the Border's of the United States. I DID NOT HARM THIS NATION! MUSLIMS DID IDIOTS! PROFILE THE CRAP OUT OF THE PEOPLE AND STOP THE INTRUSSIONS ON US!

      You're all so afraid of the A.C.L.U and those scumbag Muslims who scream Racisim, etc. Screw them!

      You people who agree to these unheard of terms for the freedonms that we USED TO KNOW, ARE STUPID! IF YOU FLY AND ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE PATTED DOWN, TOUCHED, PHOTOGRAPHED BY THE X-RAY…YOU ARE STUPID! With 100 million traveler's per week, don't you think that it is US, THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER'S, WHO HAVE THE FINAL SAY? IF YOU SAY NO, THEN ONCE AGAIN…YOU ARE STUPID! Think about this. DRIVE…JUST DRIVE. If the airlines are losing $100 million dollars a day in lost revenue, because WE ALL REFUSE TO DEAL WITH THE TSA????? What do you think will happen?

      The TSA will be gone. Why? Because it is not just the airline that loses, it's the Federal GVT. losing HUGE TAX REVENUES! I I just priced airfare to Australia and the Fare was $811 r/t BUT IT HAD $701 IN TAXES ADDED TO TI?? SCREW THAT! The taxes damn near equaled tha Airfare???? This is GVT bullcrap running wild.

      Those who sit back and bitch about this, yet do NOTHING? That means you are a spineless, weak coward, who needs to be dominated by the Power's in control now. YOU are the very people that the radical Jihadists are proud of because it is YOU WEAK MINDED IDIOT'S who will never fight for your Country or your rights.

      You people are the ones that makle me sick.

    11. Sassy says:

      Why aren't the pukes at the TSA using drug sniffing dogs and explosive detecting dogs at the airports? That would be a lot better then the overly intrusive pat down that those pukes engage in. They act and look like a bunch of molesters especially when they search small children. Why any decent parent would allow their child to be traumatised like that is beyond me. They should all go to jail. This children are being harrassed and for what? 99% of the people these pukes are searching do not fit the profile of either a terrorists or drug smugglers. They are a waste of money. And we need to make sure the loser who enabled these pukes to harrass the passengers is NOT re-elected in 2012.

    12. George Colgrove, VA says:

      This agency should have never been created. All of this was predicted. It is a federal agency – as with ALL over federal agencies, programs and department was doomed for failure at first thought. It just takes going into a screening area to see the failure. There seems to be a pool of blue shirts all over the place – TSA "agents" trippng over each other as there are far too many of them. Then the extremely poor "customer service". These people are no different than any other federal worker ai hav had to confront. They are arogant and do not listen.

      I had to choose between the DNA scrambler and a pat-down. Considering what I have read about the scanners and the dishonesty of DHS/TSA regarding the scanners, I chose the patdown (which was professionally done and not as invasive as I have read elsewhere – credit will be given where due). But rather than give me the pat down the TSA "agent" faught with me with an argant tone – telling me I was illinformed. Once I was able to get past his insistance with pointless explanations (I did not have to give) I was able to speak to a manager who then after waiting for over 20 minutes provided me with the screener (who had to be dragged out of a meeting!)

      Because it is a federal agency – it comes with the paralyzing anti-customer attidude all federal wokers carry with them. They hide behind regulations. Moreover their stature in society is more than likekly higher than us as their pay is often much higher. I do feel like I am looked down upon by these thugs.

      We would be making a positive step forward by returning this obvious private sector job back to the private sector and reap the benefits of competition not only in reducing the bloat and cost of one more federal agency, but also competition of ideas on how to better screen passengers efficiently and safely while protecting the dignity of the traveling public. Something highly paid and ineffective federal workers cannot do.

      To the screener who gave me that pat-down – good job! I know there are a few of you in TSA who are working hard and are worth your salt.

    13. Chris, Buffalo NY says:

      I drive, then travel through Toronto Canada, to avoid the TSA's thuggery. Not only that, the Canadians are 10X more friendly and 10X more educated, which is an indication, any slug can become a TSA agent.

    14. Wildcat from Dallast says:

      Unfortunately this is only one aspect of the “Terrorists Support Agency” folly that has been foisted on all of us. I understand the knee jerk reaction after 9/11 with wanting to screen airline passengers; however, doing so without a cogent thought of how to accomplish this in accordance with our Constitutional rights appeared to have been thrown out before ever starting. How about looking at a country that has had to deal with this type of horrific insidious threat effectively just for its very survival to learn specifically how they do it before we amble on down the path of righteous indignation?

      The one country that has been effectively dealing with this insidious terrorist threat has been Israel. Why didn’t our leaders covertly ask for some training and development assistance from our staunchest ally in the Middle East before subjecting its citizens to undue search and seizures without probable cause and now either the loss of dignity, physical molestation or being irradiated with stored pictures at some location? Why not use the Israeli method of profiling those who physically demonstrate specific forms of nervous behavior or have other demographic indicators of previous offending terrorists for more enhanced scrutiny thru deeper screening techniques rather than fondle little babies and grandparents? Now if the baby was travelling with adults who tripped the profiling screener’s behavioral attributes, then check out what the parents may have hidden in the child’s clothing or toy. At least probable cause would have been satisfied.

      I have to travel by air for my employer and have already been checked out thoroughly for security issues as part of my employment (and continued employment) yet I have to treated like I have already been caught and convicted of a crime when I go thru all the airport security screening procedures. And, like many of my professional coworkers, also have a CCW (Concealed Carry Weapons) license. You would think my employer would research what additional training we would need to get to serve as Air Marshalls on the flights we are required to take so we would also be required to carry a loaded weapon aboard and then charge the airline for the extra security we would be providing. Of course the cost savings to the company would be passed directly onto you (the taxpayer) as we work for the military where we learned the preponderance of the skills necessary to perform that work in the first place.

      If safety is the objective then why not focus on that without degrading the citizenry 100% of the time? Profile the passengers and intensely screen those that trip the behavioral and or demographics of known terrorists. Allow for those of us with U. S. Government approved clearances to fly unmolested by screeners regardless of private sector or government employee. Those of us who pass the requisite training for temporary Air Marshall duty be designated as such (whenever we have to fly) and fly for less cost than the paying public in exchange for that enhanced in flight security service. The Captain could make an announcement before taxiing out using words to the effect, “Normally we may have a few Air Marshalls aboard for security but today I would like to welcome everybody to our flight to (blank) this morning in which we not only have our routine complement of Air Marshalls but we have an additional twenty something sitting in locations to have interlocking fields of fire and at locations where they can spring into action to subdue any box cutter wielding threat adroitly.”

      Anyway, I would prefer to meet the most rigorous aspect of security screening (by records and integrity check) before I have to be physically subjected to the most humiliating and un-American process of so-called security screening in order to my destination to go to work.

    15. Bobbie says:

      It's government intervention that gives victory to the terrorists.

      No offense Wildcat, but I wouldn't call 10years later a knee jerk reaction for this type of perversive handling of the situation. Bomb sniffing dogs could've and should've been used immediately at a significantly less cost and would've prevented the shoe bomber and underpants exploder. For Obama's conflicts of interests he avoids the American thinker and Israel's successful solutions at all costs… even at the cost of personal dignity!

    16. Adam NC says:

      I stopped flying after being thoroughly molested by TSA monkeys who thought my Retired military ID card made me a security threat. "terrorist support agency" is the correct name for this federal f***up gangster agency. Its time to fire the TSA goons and put them in the unemployment line. Most are too stupid to find thier butt with both hands.

    17. Wildcat from Dallast says:

      Bobby, I take no offense to your comments. The knee jerk reaction was the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the rapid deployment of the TSA with its ever changing rules since 9/11. Now think back to 9/11 and recall who was in office when DHS & the TSA were deployed. That was under President George W. Bush, and he was not actively trying to destroy Israel at that time. I would have thought his administration would have worked smarter-not harder and not be so quick to take away the freedoms and personal liberties of the citizens in this manner.

      I agree that bomb sniffing dogs would be more reliable and cost effective. Profiling would also be of great benefit to the flying public while supporting our rights as described in the Constitution. A more refined method for security screeners would be to have a standard check for prohibited items for everyone by scanning both checked and carry-on bags which is then enhanced by looking more closely when a specific individual triggers it by doing some behavior indicating possible problem or the screener finds/determines something in either type of bag indicates a potential threat which satisfies probable cause for conducting such a search. This closer inspection should include both more detailed questioning and a more rigorous physical search of all the bags belonging to that passenger. That could very well be done in a more private area that incorporates better physical security for all concerned. A/V recording of such questioning and closer inspection of the luggage should be done for various threat intelligence gathering, training and unadulterated copy of the recording in cases in which there was nothing found and the passenger may want to redress their grievances if they thought they were treated improperly. Such a procedure would prevent the Terrorists Support Agency from frisking all small children and grandparents based upon a flawed sense of providing security for everyone.

      As an afterthought to the concept above, facial recognition software has come a long way and should also be used to screen passengers during check in and when going thru the security check point. Using this in conjunction with an actual “NO FLY LIST” should trigger a situation in which bags and passenger are immediately moved to a secured area for questioning, a very deep inspection and, once the identity confirmed detained for law enforcement to deal with effectively.

      BTW the previous Secretary of DHS happens to have benefitted tremendously from the purchase and fielding of those controversial full body scanners that are wasting our taxpayers’ money, our passengers’ time and all while causing a health hazard. Of course people can elect to be molested in public by someone from an agency that has internal rules protecting them while putting you at risk for arrest for complaining or resisting as well as missing your flight even if you don’t get arrested or detained beyond belief.

    18. Bobbie says:

      Sorry for my knee jerk reaction, eh?

      point taken Wildcat, but technology today for all it's intent and purposes, seems too easy for this administration to use for their own corrupt intent and unlawful purposes. At least they wouldn't be able to do that with dogs? Oops, I guess, unless they have terrorists training them??? It's so disappointing what this country has come to…

      God Bless

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