Aviation Security: Progress Made to Set Up Program Using Private-Sector Airport Screeners, but More Work Remains Page: 9 of 55
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However, our review of the guidance found that it did not clearly delineate
the roles and responsibilities of TSA airport staff and the private screening
contractors. For example, the guidance did not provide any information on
the roles and responsibilities of some TSA airport staff, such as screening
managers and training coordinators, or clarify how their roles and
responsibilities would differ from those of the private screening
contractors. Additionally, the four private screening contractors we
interviewed stated that the roles of TSA staff had not been clearly defined,
and 18 of 25 FSDs we interviewed in the past, as well as an independent
consulting firm hired by TSA to assess the pilot program, have concurred.'
According to our standards for internal controls, agency management
should ensure there are adequate means of communicating with external
stakeholders on issues that may have a significant impact on the agency's
ability to achieve its goals. By not sharing detailed information on the roles
and authorities described in the SPP transition plan with private screening
contractors, TSA may be missing an opportunity to support the effective
performance and management of essential functions related to the
screening process. TSA officials stated that they plan to clearly delineate
roles and responsibilities of the FSD, FSD staff, and private screening
contractors in future SPP contracts.
TSA has documented its intention that the SPP will operate at a cost that is
competitive with equivalent federal operations and will achieve cost-
savings where possible. TSA's cost reimbursement-based contracts for
screening services at four of the five airports currently using private
screeners provide some cost incentives in the form of an award fee tied in
part to the contractor's ability to achieve cost efficiencies and innovations.
TSA could shift more cost risk from the government to the contractors, as
federal acquisition policy suggests, by competitively awarding a different
type of contract-specifically, a fixed-price contract-which provides for
a price based on the contractor's cost experience and is not subject to any
adjustment. To this end, TSA is in the process of awarding or planning to
award fixed-price contracts to the contractors that will provide screening
services at three of the four smallest airports that will participate in the
SPP (and has already done so at the forth airport on a non-competitive
basis). TSA officials stated that they cannot award this type of contract for
screening services at larger airports for another 1 to 2 years because they
stated that they do not know the costs of screening at these airports.
Officials stated that TSA would therefore be at greater risk of awarding a
fixed-price contract for a higher cost than might actually be incurred. TSA
'See GAO, Transportation Security Administration: More Clarity on the Authority of
Federal Security Directors Is Needed, GAO-05-935 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 23, 2005).
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/m1/9/: accessed April 21, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.