WASHINGTON - Rear Adm. David M. Stone, Acting Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), today 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. The PP5, as they 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, Wyo.; and Tupelo (Miss.) Regional Airport (TUP).
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.
BearingPoint, the report's author, compared performance of the PP5 private screeners with TSA's federal screeners using three criteria and found the following:
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.
Cost: Costs for the five privately screened airports were not significantly different from the estimated cost of a federal screening operation at the same airport.
Customer and Stakeholder Impact: Performance was mixed in the larger airports and inconclusive at smaller ones. Generally, at the larger airports passengers had less confidence in the private security process, but their average wait time was slightly shorter. For the smaller airports, there was not enough data available to support any conclusion.
"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.
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.