[Archive Home][Date Prev][Date Next][Index]
"Government lags on private airport screener rules"
Saturday, October 23, 2004
Government lags on private airport screener rules
The clock starts ticking Nov. 19 for facilities wanting to make a change
By LESLIE MILLER
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - With a deadline looming, the government has yet to come up with
guidelines for commercial airports that want to replace federal baggage and
passenger screeners with privately employed workers.
Officials at some of the nation's 445 airports say they're frustrated with
the 2-year-old government work force. They say federal rules don't allow the
flexibility to reassign workers to handle surges in air travel, which
sometimes result in long waits for passengers.
But those considering hiring private companies say they can't make a
decision because they lack crucial information.
The application period begins Nov. 19 and will likely end three weeks later,
but the Transportation Security Administration hasn't announced qualified
private security companies. Nor has it established criteria for airports to
participate in the program.
The agency hasn't even prepared a final application for airports to fill
'The devil's in the details'
George Doughty, executive director of Lehigh Valley International Airport in
Allentown, Pa., said he needs to know who will be liable for security
breaches or terrorist attacks and how the contracts with private companies
will be managed.
"The devil's in the details," Doughty said.
Bob Parker, spokesman for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, said more
specifics are needed.
TSA spokeswoman Amy von Walter said the agency has set up an e-mail address
so airports can submit specific questions. Until then, she said, "We don't
have a specific date on final guidance at this time as we continue to work a
few issues - including liability."
Congress created the TSA to take over airport screening after the Sept. 11
attacks drew attention to shortcomings with the privately employed workers.
Now, there are about 47,000 government workers at 440 airports checking
passengers and bags for bombs and weapons. But the law that turned screening
over to the TSA also allows airports to go back to private screeners, under
TSA supervision, beginning Nov. 19.
Some airport directors think security should remain a federal responsibility
because private companies will put profit before the public interest.
Many airports are happy with the TSA screeners' performance and plan to
continue with them.
"It's working here," said Logan International Airport spokesman Phil
Steve van Beek, executive vice president of the Airports Council
International, estimates 20 to 30 airports, including some of the nation's
largest, will opt out of the current system.
"It is directly attributable to the failure of TSA to manage the work force
properly," van Beek said.
Federal screeners, unhappy at the prospect of losing their jobs just two
years after most of them started, held a news conference in Detroit on
Tuesday to oppose turning over screening duties to private companies.
"It's bad for morale, which is bad for security," said Peter Winch,
organizer for the American Federal of Government Employees, which represents
TSA screeners at 60 airports.
Private screeners already are working at five airports under a pilot program
ordered by Congress when it created the TSA.
Those airports use screeners who are hired, trained, paid and tested by the
government. All five - in San Francisco; Tupelo, Miss.; Rochester, N.Y.;
Kansas City, Mo.; and Jackson Hole, Wyo. - say they're pleased with the way
the private screeners have performed.
Do you have an opinion about this story?
Share it with other readers in our CAA Discussion Forums
Fair Use Notice
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
If you have any queries regarding this issue, please Email us at email@example.com