NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 11, 2005

Since the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 (ATSA) and the creation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), airport security has become federalized. TSA became the sole provider of airport screenings and security causing a conflict of interest.

To remove this conflict of interest and decentralize airport security, TSA should be made the policymaker and regulator of airport screenings; likewise, screening responsibilities should be devolved to the airport level under the supervision of TSA's Federal Security Director (FSD), recommends Robert Poole (Reason Foundation).

These changes will improve airport security in several ways, he says:

  • It would make all on-airport security functions the responsibility of the airport; this approach would lead to a more integrated approach, with the FSD supervising everything.
  • Removing TSA's conflict of interest would make the airport responsible for all aspects of security (as in Europe) and should also increase accountability for results.
  • It would also produce meaningful savings in annual payroll costs for screening functions, as well as permitting a shift of screeners from baggage to passenger screening.

These net savings will free up scarce airport security resources for other needs, and over time, those savings may permit TSA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to spend relatively more on protecting vital non-aviation infrastructure, says Poole.

Source: Robert W. Poole, "Improving Management Of The Aviation Security Workforce," Testimony before the House Subcommittee on Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Cybersecurity, July 28, 2005.


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