Return to Private Security Screening at Airports?: Background and Issues Regarding the Opt-Out Provision of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act [May 14, 2004]   [open pdf - 165KB]

"A provision in the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA, P.L. 107-71 § 108; 115 Stat. 611) permits each airport where federal screeners are currently deployed to request private screeners instead of federal screeners starting in November 2004. A pilot program created by the act was established at five airports to examine the advantages and disadvantages of private airport screening. Concerns have been raised, however, that the pilot program may provide too small a sample and, as currently implemented, is too similar in design to the federal screening function to make a valid comparison of federal and private screening, and that the pilot program airports may not serve as ideal models for future private screening systems. Also, no regulatory framework or guidelines currently exist for evaluating private screening proposals and overseeing private screening firms. […] Other issues to be addressed regarding private screening are related to how private screening entities will interface with federal aviation security functions such as intelligence gathering and data sharing, and deployment of new screening technologies. The effect of private screening on the security screening workforce is also a critical issue, since high turnover rates among screeners before September 11, 2001, were a key factor in the decision to create a federal screening workforce under ATSA."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32383
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