The program that allows airports to use private security screeners may soon get an overhaul. Legislation has been introduced that would reform the Transportation Security Administrations’ Screening Partnership Program. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Screening Partnership Reform Act (S. 3441) to enhance the accuracy of the TSA’s cost estimation process behind the screening partnership program.
In a recent article, Lee said that airports who choose to work a private security contractor can reduce costs up to 11% without compromising passenger safety. Even so, only 22 airports around the country have opted into the program, largely he says because of “bureaucratic red tape that comes with the TSA being judge, jury, and executioner in all aspects of contractor selection.”
He said his bill will simplify the application process for private companies to utilize the screening partnership program by looking more accurately at the costs involved with how the TSA evaluates prospective security contractors.
One of the costs not currently taken into consideration by the TSA is the cost of providing benefits to the federal employees who do the work—the screeners.
“As it stands, the TSA does not currently include the cost of benefits guaranteed to federal employees, which could account for as much as 10% of the total amount the TSA pays its employees for these services. This bill would change that,” Lee wrote in his article.
He also says this legislation would improve the security process by allowing private screening companies to annually submit recommendations on how to improve the screening process and it would also empower airports to make the decision whether to go with a TSA contract or a TSA-approved private screening company.
“While the screening partnership program has existed for almost 20 years, only 22 airports participate in the program, despite its safety record and cost-effectiveness,” Lee said. “This bill would clear some of the bureaucratic red tape surrounding this program to unleash the protentional cost-saving benefits of these private screening contractors, while also simplifying the application process and improving the efficiency of our screenings. Simply put, this bill would save Americans money and make them safer.”