Should TSA use private screeners?


The Government Accountability Office is warning the Transportation Security Administration that the agency’s 2007 study on the efficiency and effectiveness of private screeners doesn’t tell the whole story.

In 2007, TSA studied the cost, wait time in security lines, customer satisfaction, threat detection capabilities and recertification test passage rates of private security screeners at six of the nation’s airports and compared the results to federal screeners.

A newly released GAO report reviews a TSA assessment of cost savings and performance of private screeners and found the agency didn’t account for all costs in its study, which found private screeners were equal to or better than federal screeners in terms of cost and performance.

Among the costs TSA didn’t account for:

  • overlapping administrative staffs in the cost of airports participating in the Screening Partnership Program, which allows private-sector screeners to screen luggage at six commercial airports. 
  • lost tax revenues when private screeners were converted to federal screeners.

TSA also did not conduct a statistical assessment of the reliability of the data used in the report, which was conducted by a contractor in 2007.


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  2. the assessment was done most likely with about 6 or so airports using private screeners however a few things were not taken into account it seems……like if they all went private again who controls what… seems like a co-employment issue that could result in massive legal costs . tsa screeners cannot join a union private ones can.. i don’t know of any private contractor taking over a governmental function that might pay equal or more my prediction is the screeners will be unionized within a year or two of going private to regain their pay and benefit status….

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