TSA will allow Sanford airport to use private security screeners
by Special to the Herald
June 12 2012 at 2231 | 2 2 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced Monday they will allow the Orlando Sanford International Airport to opt out of using its federal airline passenger screening system.

As part of the Screening Partnership Program, the Sanford airport will be allowed to use private contract screening services under TSA oversight.

The Sanford airport is expected to consider two screening models, one in which a private screening services operator is contracted by TSA, or one in which Sanford itself competes for the contract with TSA and retains a private contractor to assist in the new screening model.

Under either of these models, TSA will continue to set standards, approve private contractors, and conduct audits and oversight of operations at the airport as well as across the country.

The announcement was made by TSA and U.S. Congressman John Mica at the airport Monday.

“I hope this opens a new era of reform for TSA operations, not only at Orlando Sanford but across nation,” Mica said. “Transitioning to the private-federal model at Orlando Sanford and other airports will allow TSA to focus on security and not on personnel management, and it will result in better customer service for passengers, improved security services, and more cost-effective security operations.”

Mica, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, worked to change the law in February by requiring that TSA accept airports’ applications to opt for the private-federal screening model.

“Orlando Sanford will be the largest airport to convert to the private-federal screening model under the opt-out program. As more airports across the country will be encouraged to opt out, both taxpayers and air travelers will benefit from this cost-effective program,” he said.

Qualified contractors will now compete under a TSA request for proposals. A contract will then be awarded, and the airport will transition to a public-private screening operation.

Orlando Sanford had applied to opt out through the Screening Partnership Program on two previous occasions, but was denied its right to do so by TSA. TSA denied other airports’ applications to opt out as well.

Sixteen airports currently successfully operate under the opt-out program, and others are interested. Benefits of opting out, as reported by airports and by the investigative work of the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the Transportation Committee, include greater screening efficiencies and innovation, improved cost-effectiveness, better customer service, improved employee morale, and greater flexibility for airports.