USA Flag

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Frequently Asked Questions - Application

Screening Partnership Program

How do airports apply to the Screening Partnership Program (SPP)?

Interested airports can submit an application via postal mail service, fax, hand delivery, email, or courier.  The SPP Application can be found at the TSA website under what we do, Screening Partnership Program  in the section labeled Program Application.

What is the application period?

Airport directors may submit their application to  participate in SPP to TSA at any time. There is no defined end date at this time.

Can all airports throughout the country apply to the SPP?

The airport application process to join SPP is open to all Federally-staffed airports in the United States that require screening services.

If an airport applies to the SPP, can it later withdraw its application?

An Airport may withdraw their SPP application at any point up until TSA releases the Request for Proposal (RFP) for that Airport.  Once TSA issues a RFP, it would be difficult to have the airport withdraw its candidacy, since the RFP is the contractual document issued to contract screening services at an airport.  

What is the criteria for airport applicant selection?

In Feb. 2012, the President signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act 2012, which directed the TSA Administrator to approve SPP applications if the Administrator determine that “the approval would not compromise security or detrimentally affect the cost-efficiency or the effectiveness of the screening of passengers or property at the airport.”

Can airports apply to use contract screeners at some security checkpoints but not all; that is to say, a partial opt-out?

Yes, if an airport proposes such a plan, TSA will consider this option.

Can an airport entity compete to provide screening services at their airport?

Yes, if an independent entity created by an Airport authority meets the qualification criteria identified by ATSA and TSA (this determination will be made at the time of RFP submission) it may compete for the contract to provide private screening services at that Airport.  This does not guarantee the Airport will be awarded the contract for screening services.  The independent entity will be required to submit information to TSA similar to that required of industry; as applicable.

How did the criteria for application approval into SPP change with the passage of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act of 2012?
On Feb. 14, 2012, the President signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which outlines additional TSA requirements related to the approval of SPP applications.  The Act states that TSA shall approve an airport's application to participate in SPP if approval will not compromise security, detrimentally affect cost efficiency, or detrimentally affect screening effectiveness of passengers or property.

The Act requires TSA to make a determination on an application within 120 days of receipt. It also gives the Administrator full discretion to waive the requirement for companies providing private screening services to be owned and controlled by a US citizen, allowing US subsidiaries of foreign owned companies to participate if the company has an appropriate mitigation plan on file with the Department of Defense's (DOD) Defense Security Service.

If an application is denied, TSA has 60 days to inform the airport, as well Congress, on the findings that served as the basis for the denial; the results of any cost or security analysis conducted in considering the application; and recommendations on how the airport operator can address the reasons for the denial.

The Act also requires airport operators to recommend a private screening vendor for their airport as part of the application process.

Since the passage of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, what happens after an airport’s application to SPP is approved?
If the TSA Administrator approves an application, the next step is to issue a Request for Proposals through the Federal acquisition process. This acquisition will be implemented and governed by the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 (CICA) and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), among other statutory regulatory provisions.

Following approval of an application, depending on the complexity and scope of the screening operation, the acquisition process will take some time to execute. TSA will award a contract for security screening services at an airport if it maintains security and is cost effective.

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 requires an airport to list a suggested vendor. Does TSA have to award the contract to the vendor the airport suggests?
No. The recommended vendor must compete for the contract along with any other companies that respond to the Request for Proposals (RFP). The contracting process is governed by the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 (CICA) and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), among other statutory regulatory provisions.

What recourse does an airport have if TSA denies its application under the new law?
As stipulated by the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, if an application is denied, TSA must inform the airport operator, within 60 days, “… (i) the findings that served as the basis for the denial; (2) the results of any cost or security analysis conducted in considering the application; and (iii) recommendations on how the airport operator can address the reasons for the denial.” (Background: There is no limit on the number of times airports can reapply.)

Latest revision: 19 December 2012