Denver at times has unmatched waits for security screening but it’s Atlanta that’s threatening to privatize So the TSA promises to try harder (like Avis used to!) in Atlanta by summer. (HT: Ryan) Of course the federal government has a history of blocking airport attempts to outsource security functions despite a legal right to do so in any case.
Airport Policy News gets into the reasons that screening lines are on the rise. Indeed, there’s no relief in sight.
[TSA Administrator Peter] Neffenger arranged a conference call with officials at the 20 largest airports the last week of February. But the news was not good. He could offer no near-term relief, meaning that long lines are projected to be even worse during this summer’s peak travel season.
As I predicted when the Homeland Security Inspector General’s report found that the TSA failed to find prohibited items 95% of the time — that the TSA couldn’t spot a terrorist if one came up to the checkpoint wearing an “I am a Terrorist” t-shirt — the TSA basically reacted like this:
Indeed, last June Neffenger declared the need for the TSA to become less efficient moving passengers through checkpoints. And now screeners spend more time per passenger through the checkpoint.
TSA Agents in Charlotte Watch News of the TSA’s Failure to Detect Weapons and Bombs, Instead of Searching for Weapons and Bombs (HT: >Tocqueville)
Screeners now get centralized training — both new hires and existing employees have to go to the agency’s training center in Glynco, GA for two weeks of courses. This now increases “the total time to get a new screener on board from the previous six weeks to more like 13 weeks.” That means fewer people manning the checkpoints while their colleagues are in training.
There’s also a complaint that the TSA isn’t getting more money to hire more screeners (they’ve spent it all on expensive toys like the mothballed backscatter nude-o-scopes). But the issue isn’t the total number of screeners it’s deployment and utilization. Private industry knows how to schedule workers to meet peak demand and reduce staffing during lulls. Governments do not, cannot, and will not. So their only solution is increased staffing and budgets.
The TSA thinks more people should join PreCheck. To grow PreCheck TSA wants to use third party providers. There’s only one so far, Morpho Trust, and they’re suing to prevent the process of adding other companies from going forward.
The protest is bizarre in that Morpho is not only the sole current provider of PreCheck enrollment processing (at about 350 locations); it is also one of the seven bidders on the expanded enrollment and marketing program. In effect, what the company is doing is trying to maintain its enrollment monopoly for as long as possible, while hoping to gain one of the new contracts eventually.
Currently 6 million are enrolled in TSA’s program or collaborative programs. But their goal is 25 million. It’s not clear how PreCheck scales to that. Already PreCheck lanes are slower, not from more passengers but from screeners spending more time on each person already considered a ‘trusted traveler’.