WASHINGTON – Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) President Greg Principato testified today before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection to stress the importance of a multi-layered, risk-based employee screening system to enhance the safety and security of U.S. airports.
Principato emphasized that airports have an effective regime in place to screen individuals with access to secured areas including extensive FBI background checks, checks against the federal terrorist watch lists and security threat assessments; access control systems; and initial and recurrent security training for employees. In addition, all U.S. airport employees are subjected to Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) Aviation Direct Access Screening Program (ADASP) which entails random security checks to provide an effective deterrent to both criminal and terrorist activities.
"Each day, airports work to ensure that our facilities are safe and secure for passengers and employees," said Principato. "We are now working with TSA to develop a six-point pilot program which will utilize the risk-based approach for even more robust employee screening. Airport employees work in an environment that is very different than the passenger areas, necessitating different measures that address potential security vulnerabilities."
The program would be pilot tested to assess the improvement in aviation security, the impact on airport and airline operations and the costs of the program. Assuming Congress appropriates the necessary funds to implement the plan, further deployment could then occur. The six-point plan includes:
- Behavioral recognition: growing the population beyond TSA to include airport employees trained to recognize hostile intent.
- Employee training: raising awareness of suspicious behavior and implementing incentives for reporting anomalies.
- Targeted physical inspection: building upon TSA's random, unpredictable employee screening measures to include roving security patrols.
- Biometric access control: expanding current use of fingerprint, iris, limited access and recorded access control measures.
- 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.
- Technology deployment: continuing to support the development of security technology including cameras and body imaging.
"This risk-based program, developed collaboratively by airports, airlines and the TSA, will enhance security of the traveling public by strengthening employee screening while appropriately using resources across the industry," Principato added.