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"Security Act Sets Many Strict Deadlines For Provisions"



Tuesday, December 4, 2001

Security Act Sets Many Strict Deadlines For Provisions
Airport Security Report


The Aviation and Transportation Security Act signed into law by President
Bush Nov. 19 includes a number of critical provisions to increase aviation
security, industry experts say. But many questions remain about the federal
government's ability to coordinate a workforce of 28,000-plus employees at
hundreds of airports nationwide, as well as the new security agency's
authority and execution.

The new law enacts many of the security recommendations put forward over the
last four years by various panels and experts. The new law goes well beyond
the Gore Commission's recommendations on aviation safety and security in
1997, and both Department of Transportation (DOT) rapid response teams on
airport and aircraft security. The law, however, does not go as far as the
comprehensive security program outlined recently by Billie Vincent, the
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) director of civil aviation security.
However, the act marks a major step in the direction advocated by Vincent.

The DOT's ability to execute key provisions in the bill already is being
questioned by government policymakers and the aviation industry. Secretary
of Transportation Norman Mineta said Nov. 27 that screening of all check-in
baggage could not be accomplished by the 60-day deadline prescribed by the
law.

That statement generated shockwaves on Capitol Hill. Some industry experts
questioned Mineta's will to separate the new agency from airline lobbying
efforts. Democratic leaders of aviation legislative committees rebuffed
Mineta's announcement in a sharply-worded letter . Mineta is the only
Democratic cabinet member who made it into the new Bush Administration.
Mineta's apparent wavering on the deadline harkens back to the Senate
version of the new aviation security act, which was passed late September by
a 100-0 vote. The Senate placed the new Transportation Security
Administration (TSA) in the Department of Justice (DOJ). This placement
underscored the law enforcement nature of the TSA, and was intended to
further remove the new organization from industry influence.

Catherine Mayer, vice president of Societe Internationale de
Telecommunications Aeronautiques (SITA), told ASR that bag-matching could be
completed by the 60-day deadline quickly and inexpensively because the
necessary infrastructure of baggage handling systems and airline reservation
systems can be retooled to handle the task.

The challenge of putting the law's many provisions into place is recognized
by the senior DOT officials charged with making it work. At a background
briefing for reporters last week, these officials described the transition
to a federalized aviation security workforce as a three-phased effort
extending through the end of 2002. Phase I involves keeping the current
civilian contract workforce in place, and applying special scrutiny through
the Christmas/New Year holiday travel period. The next two phases involve
hiring, training and deploying a federalized workforce. "Not a big-bang
event, but a phased sequence at each airport," said a DOT official.

Nevertheless, the implementation schedule is aggressive. "We're going to
grow from nothing to a very large organization," this official said.

At an aviation security symposium last week, Mineta described the new law
enforcement organization as "larger than the FBI, the Drug Enforcement
Administration, and the Border patrol combined."

The new law requires the government:

To set standards for new screeners by Dec. 19,

To transfer all contracts with private security companies to the federal
government by Feb. 17, 2001,

To develop training for new employees by Jan. 18, 2002,

And to start collecting a $2.50 enplanement fee starting Jan. 18, 2002, to
pay for new programs.

Airports See Openings For Funding

One of the act's major provisions for airports include funding security
projects. Airports, airport parking lot operators and airport vendors can
reclaim up to $1.5 billion for costs incurred in strengthening security
programs after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Airports also are being encouraged to discuss lowering rents, rates, charges
and fees with airport tenants and air carriers to help them survive the
industry downturn.

Additionally, the act opens up Airport Improvement Project (AIP) and
Passenger Facility Charge (RFC) funds for airport security projects in
fiscal year 2002.

The bill also puts more than $2 billion over the next five years into
research and development of new technologies and practices for securing
airports and aircraft for critical long-term changes.

Trial programs will also be developed at no fewer than 20 airports for new
and emerging technologies, including biometrics, for access control of
secured areas.

Access control of the airport perimeter is also adding a third layer of
security. Besides the perimeter fencing and access control machines that are
present at many airports, the act now requires personal inspection of all
goods and vehicles coming into secure areas.

The Deadline Is Set

One of the key provisions in the Aviation and Transportation Security Act is
to screen all check-in baggage using explosives detection system (EDS)
machines by Dec. 31, 2002 - little more than one year from now. Even more,
within 60 days the industry must begin screening check-in baggage using
alternatives means to EDS machines. Below is the provision in the act:

Sec. 110

"(e) MANDATORY SCREENING WHERE EDS NOT YET AVAILABLE. - As soon as
practicable but not later than the 60th day following the date of enactment
of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act and until the requirements
of subsection (b)(1)(A) are met, the Under Secretary shall require
alternative means for screening any piece of checked baggage that is not
screened by an explosive detection system. Such alternative means may
include 1 or more of the following:

(1) A bag-match program that ensures that no checked baggage is placed
aboard an aircraft unless the passenger who checked the baggage is aboard
the aircraft.

(2) Manual search.

(3) Search by canine explosive detection units in combination with other
means.

(4) Other means or technology approved by the Under Secretary.

Source: Aviation and Transportation Security Act

Hill Democrats To Mineta: Meet 60-Day Deadline

Democratic leaders of the Senate and House committees that oversee aviation
policy issued a blunt reply to Secretary Norman Mineta in regarding his
comments Nov. 27 that the Department of Transportation is unlikely to meet
the Jan. 18, 2002 deadline to screen all passenger check-in baggage. The
deadline is part of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act signed into
law by President Bush on Nov. 19. Below are excerpts of the letter:

"Dear Secretary Mineta:

"We are astonished and dismayed by reports that you believe that the
Department of Transportation will be unable to meet the checked baggage
inspection requirement of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act,
which was signed into law by President Bush just nine days ago. The Act
requires that all checked baggage must be screened, no later than 60 days
after enactment. This is a critical provision in the Act and essential to
ensuring safety and restoring public confidence...

"We see no reason to conclude now that will not be possible to comply with
the 60-day deadline. Moreover, we are dismayed that you would make such a
determination within a week of enactment...

"Moreover, the law contemplates that you will work with the airlines to
develop the best ways to meet the 60-day deadline. Such efforts will be
undermined by statements that you are not serious about the 60-day deadline
...Conversely, an admission of defeat at the outset will reduce incentives
for the airlines to find creative ways to meet the deadlines for checked
baggage screening.

"We urge you to clarify the record and make clear that the Department will
go all out to meet the initial 60-day deadline for screening checked baggage
and fully comply with the new law.

Sources: Sen. Ernest Hollings, Sen. John Rockefeller, Rep. James Oberstar,
Rep. William Lipinski

Reports and Research Funding Are Important Security Tools

The Aviation and Transportation Security Act requires several reports
measuring the effectiveness of certain provisions of the new law:

   * Due Dec. 19, 2001 - Report on near-term measures that can be taken to
improve general aviation security.

   * Due Feb. 17, 2001 - Report findings and recommendations regarding non-
lethal weapons for flight crews.

   * Due May 18, 2002 -Report on measures to prevent access to unauthorized
persons to airport secure areas.

   * Due May 18, 2002, and annually thereafter - Provide Congress with
performance-based action plan and how its goals will be achieved, with
follow-on reports evaluating the extent goals and objectives were met.

   * Due May 18, 2002, and annually thereafter - Report to Congress
implementation of each of the eight enhanced security measures outlined in
Sec. 109 of the act.

   * Due Nov. 19, 2002 - Report on deployment of federal screeners.

   * Due Nov. 19, 2002 - Report findings and recommendations on measures to
improve security for scheduled passenger aircraft with 60 seats or less.

   * Due annually - Report on the effectiveness of penalties in ensuring
compliance with security procedures.

   * Due annually - Report results of research and development effort to
improve security.

In addition to these reports, the act authorizes funding for improved
security measures in airports and on-board aircraft. Below are the funding
provisions:

   * Grant for Aircraft Security - $500 million authorized for fiscal year
2002 to fortify cockpit doors, provide video monitors to alert crew of
activity in the passenger cabin, and to ensure continuous operation of the
aircraft transponder.

   * Airport Security - $1.5 billion authorized for fiscal years 2002 and
2003 to reimburse airport operators, on-airport parking lots and vendors of
on- airfield direct services to air carriers for direct costs incurred by
new security requirements.

   * Research and Development of Security Technology - $50 million
authorized for each of fiscal years 2002 through 2006 and such sums
necessary for each fiscal year thereafter for (1) researching, developing,
testing and evaluating explosives detection systems (EDS) in airports, (2)
new screening technology of carry-on items, (3) new screening technology of
cargo being loaded onto aircraft, (4) evaluating threats of passengers
on-board aircraft, (5) integrating airport security systems, (6) improving
methods of airport security personnel, and (7) reducing the vulnerability of
aircraft to terrorist attack.

   * Defense Research - $20 million authorized for research grants with the
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for long-term improvements to
airport security, securing networking and sharing threat information between
federal agencies, advances in biometrics, and other technologies.

Source: Aviation and Transportation Security Act

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