TSA, AAAE, ACI-NA and NATA announce industry-cooperative employee screening plan

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National Press Release
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

WASHINGTON The Transportation Security Administration, American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) and National Air Transportation Association (NATA) today announced plans to measurably maximize the effectiveness of screening employees at airports. The six-point plan to harden and bolster employee screening utilizes a risk-based approach.

"Our strategy is to be nimble, flexible, mobile, and above all, dynamic," said TSA Administrator Kip Hawley. "Effective security requires partners working together within a network of overlapping measures around which terrorists cannot easily engineer. For that reason, we achieve a better overall security result by using our resources flexibly, not tied down at checkpoints checking and re-checking people that work at the airport every day."

Over the next 90 days, TSA, ACI-NA, AAAE and NATA, through a working group, will develop the standards and solidify the implementation timeline for the plan. The plan will include testing of six key measures, followed by a phased rollout to the 452 commercial U.S. airports.

The six key measures include:

  1. Behavioral recognition: growing the population beyond TSA to include airport employees trained to recognize hostile intent.
  2. Employee training: raising awareness of suspicious behavior and implementing incentives for reporting anomalies.
  3. Targeted physical inspection: building upon TSA's random, unpredictable employee screening measures to include roving security patrols.
  4. Biometric access control: expanding current use of fingerprint, iris, limited access and recorded access control measures.
  5. Certified employees: creating a new level of employees that are subject to a more rigorous, initial level of scrutiny on a voluntary basis, allowing them to be removed from the regular, but not random, screening regimen.
  6. Technology deployment: continuing to support the development of security technology including cameras and body imaging.

The collaborative employee screening plan builds upon the layered approach already in place at the nation's airports, which includes perpetual vetting of employees against watch lists, badge and keypad-protected entry points, and TSA employee screening patrols and surges.

"Airports must have a multi-layered security system for employees on the airside of airports precisely because it's an environment with many potentially dangerous 'things' including tools, fuel and other objects that are critical to normal airport operations," AAAE President Chip Barclay said. "Targeted, unpredictable physical screening is an important part of that system, but our top priority must be to eliminate dangerous people through strengthened vetting and background checks. We have to know the employees, improve background checks, and use targeted physical screening that isn’t predictable if we want to effectively screen this critical population."

"Airports believe that the most effective security measures are 'risk-based,' focusing resources to provide the highest level of security," said Greg Principato, president of ACI-NA. "The six-point program being developed by airports and TSA will allow us to evaluate different combinations of programs and technologies. We can then implement the measures which provide the greatest security benefits for airports and the traveling public."

"NATA's airline service companies and fixed-based operators recognize the importance of improving employee screening at America’s commercial airports," NATA President James K. Coyne stated. "We believe that this new initiative will bring together the key stakeholders to address employee screening and provide effective solutions to ensure that America's commercial airports remain the safest in the world. NATA and its member companies look forward to participating in the development of these new voluntary measures over the next 90 days."