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""TSA Reorganization" Legislation Introduced in House of Representatives"

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

"TSA Reorganization" Legislation Introduced in House of Representatives 
Airport Legislative Alliance

Airport Alert

To:      AAAE/ACI-NA Chief Executives and Airport Operators on E-Mail

From:    Joel Bacon, 703-575-2478

Re:     "TSA Reorganization" Legislation Introduced in House of

        The Republican leadership of the House Homeland Security Committee
today introduced legislation to "reorganize" the Transportation Security
Administration.  The bill, H.R. 4439, was sponsored by Homeland Security
Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY); Economic Security, Infrastructure
Protection, and Cybersecurity Subcommittee Chairman Dan Lungren (R-CA); and
several other Republican members of the committee.  The text of the
legislation, a press release on the legislation, and a video clip from a
press conference held today by several of the bill's sponsors can be viewed
at: http://hsc.house.gov/.  

        Among other things, the legislation would establish an "Airport
Screening Organization" within TSA with the stated goal of "improving the
delivery of federal security screening services" by "increasing efficiency,
taking better advantage of new technologies, reducing unit costs, and
responding more effectively to the needs of the traveling public, while
enhancing aviation security."  Additionally, the bill would establish
transportation sector advisory councils for each mode of transportation
under the jurisdiction of TSA to provide "advice and counsel" to TSA on
"management policy, spending, and regulatory matters, including interim
final rules."  The advisory councils would conduct a coordinated review of
the rulemaking and cost-benefit analysis processes of TSA and develop
recommendations to improve the processes and ensure the public interest is
fully protected.  Membership on the advisory council would be composed of
experts in each transportation mode, including representatives of labor and
management.  The bill also requires a report on non-screener personnel at
airports and recommendations on the possible elimination of some of those
positions as well as a report on recommendations for improving TSA's
acquisition management system.    

On other items of note, the bill proposes significant changes to the
Screening Partnership Program (opt-out).  Specifically, the measure would
require the establishment of standard operating procedures and specific
requirements for security screening as well as a certification process for
ensuring that "screening entities" operating under the program perform in
accordance with those SOPs and screening requirements.  Once certified, the
"screening entity" (a private screening company or airport most likely)
would be entitled to "all litigation and risk management protections
applicable thereto."  Liability protections and defenses available to a
certified screening entity would be extended to airport operators and other
third parties.  Additionally, the bill would establish a "Share in Savings"
program under which cost savings could be used by the airport to deploy
better technology, including in-line EDS installation.  These items on
expanding opt-out follow some of the concepts outlined by Metropolitan
Washington Airports Authority President Jim Bennett in testimony before the
committee earlier this year on behalf of AAAE and ACI-NA.  That testimony
can be viewed at:  http://homeland.house.gov/files/TestimonyBennett.pdf

Expanding the opt-out program to make it more appealing to airport operators
was one of the key benefits that Chairman Lungren highlighted today at the
press conference, as the following article from CongressDaily highlights:
http://www.aaae.org/_pdf/_govpdf/HomelandSec12705.pdf.  The article also
notes that the bill does not have Democratic support at this time in part
because provisions on cargo screening and rail and transit security were not
included in the legislation.   

        Sponsor's Summary of Key Provisions
        According to bill sponsors, the legislation: 

   .   Creates an independent, performance-based, results-oriented
organization within
TSA to focus exclusively on airline passenger and baggage screening;
   .   Establishes an autonomous Airport Screening Organization (ASO) to
focus on
customer service, accountability, and cost reductions;
   .   Appoints a Chief Operating Officer (COO) to manage the day-to-day
of the organization and ensure passengers receive the best customer service
and most
secure screening procedures;
   .   Creates industry-led advisory councils to help the best ideas of
management and
labor reach decision-makers directly;
   .   Requires TSA to develop a "Vetted Passenger List" that includes
already cleared under other programs such as Registered Traveler, TWIC,
and applicable federal security clearances; 
   .   Establishes a "culture of accountability" within all levels of TSA to
improve the
effectiveness of airport security screening; 
   .   Encourages airports that decide to train their own passenger
screening personnel
to invest in screening technology, equipment, and innovations-ultimately
overall screening operations costs;
   .   Returns most of the savings resulting from new technologies to the
airport, in
order to encourage additional spending on advanced technologies and security
   .   Requires TSA to develop an accurate accounting and cost analysis for
all TSA
programs in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective security programs; 
   .   Requires TSA to focus resources on the areas at highest risk of
terrorist attacks;
   .   Creates a program to instantaneously pre-screen all international
traveling to the U.S.;
   .   Removes hurdles that have prevented airline pilots from volunteering
to become
armed Federal Flight Deck Officers;
   .   Encourages the private sector to invest in cutting-edge
transportation security
   .   Sets new performance goals for TSA, state and local governments, and
the private
sector to improve airport security;
   .   Encourages state and local governments and federal contractors to
compete with
TSA to provide the highest possible level of airport security; and
   .   Creates new training standards for airport document checkers to
unacceptable or fraudulent identification.


While there are a number of ATSA-related changes of importance to airports
that are not addressed in the bill introduced today, the measure does
include some important provisions that attempt to deal with issues the
airport community has raised with the committee this year.  Among other
things, the bill provides an avenue for additional airport involvement with
TSA and the proposed ASO and enhances the opt-out program to provide more
flexibility and a potential opportunity to creatively finance important
technological improvements like EDS installation projects.

In terms of process, the Committee will likely consider the measure some
time early next year.  Between now and then we will be actively working with
the staff and Committee Members to press for additional airport priorities.
We will keep you apprised as the process moves forward.

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