Aviation Security: Progress Made to Set Up Program Using Private-Sector Airport Screeners, but More Work Remains Page: 12 of 55
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checked baggage screening at commercial airports. The federal workforce
was to be in place by November 2002. At the same time, ATSA mandated
that TSA establish a 2-year pilot program using qualified private screening
companies to screen passengers and checked baggage, with TSA
oversight.' Pursuant to section 108 of ATSA, TSA selected five airports,
one from each airport security category, to participate in the pilot
program.8 TSA also competitively selected four contractors (one
contractor serves two airports) to conduct screening at the pilot airports.
Table 1 lists the airports and private screening contractors that
participated in the pilot program.
Table 1: Airports That Participated in the 2-Year Private Screener Pilot Program
Airport and location category Contractor
San Francisco International, Calif. X Covenant Aviation Security
Kansas City International, Mo. I FirstLine Transportation Security
Greater Rochester International, N.Y. II McNeil Security International
Jackson Hole Airport, Wyo. III Jackson Hole Airport Board
Tupelo Airport, Miss. IV Covenant Aviation Security
Section 108 further permitted the more than 400 commercial airports using
federal passenger and checked baggage screeners to apply to TSA to use
private rather than federal screeners at the conclusion of the pilot.'
Beginning on November 19, 2004, all commercial airports with federal
security screening became eligible to apply to opt-out of using federal
screeners through the newly established SPP. An airport operator may
submit to TSA an application to have the screening of passengers and
checked baggage at an airport be carried out by the screening personnel of
a qualified private screening company, under a contract entered into
The 2-year pilot concluded on November 18, 2004. For purposes of this report, we refer to
these five airports as the pilot program airports.
sTSA classifies the over 400 commercial airports in the United States into one of five
security risk categories (X, I, II, III, and IV) based on various factors, such as the total
number of takeoffs and landings annually, the extent to which passengers are screened at
the airport, and other special security considerations. In general, category X airports have
the largest number of passenger boardings and category IV airports have the smallest.
9ATSA codified the requirements that TSA institute a pilot program at 49 U.S.C. 44919 and
that an opt-out option be available under the SPP at 44920.
GAO-06-166 Aviation Security
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Aviation Security: Progress Made to Set Up Program Using Private-Sector Airport Screeners, but More Work Remains, report, March 31, 2006; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc295707/m1/12/: accessed May 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.