The Transportation Security Administration has decided to halt the program which allows private security screeners to replace government screeners at airports. The little known Screening Partnership Program was deemed acceptable one month ago when the TSA expressed a “neutral” opinion on the program. Now in use by 16 airports around the country, the head of the TSA John Pistole said on Friday that he will not allow any expansion of the program, justifying his decision by saying that he could not “see any advantage to it. ”
The Screening Partnership Program gave airports the ability to hire their own screeners privately to replace the TSA personnel. They wear similar uniforms to TSA agents, meet TSA standards and are supervised by the TSA directly. Airports chose to hire replacement agents in response to all the bad publicity that TSA agents received last December for their overly zealous behavior when giving ‘pat-downs’ which many travelers called ‘intrusive. ’
Republican Representative from Florida, John Mica, sent a letter which encouraged more airports to privatize their screening, believing that non-government agents would be more amenable to public needs and opinions. That was when the TSA neither endorsed nor discouraged the program. But on Friday the Springfield-Branson Airport in Missouri was denied permission to join the program. Pistole stated at that time that additional applications will also be denied.
"I examined the contractor screening program and decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports as I do not see any clear or substantial advantage to do so at this time," Pistole said.