NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Get Ready for Federalized Airport Security

February 8, 2002

In nine days, the federal government will assume responsibility for screening luggage and passengers at airports. The hurdles involved in the switch are considerable:

  • Some 40,000 security employees must be hired, including 30,000 screeners -- only some of whom will come from the ranks of current screeners.
  • The Transportation Security Administration won't even commence hiring until May -- and the process will continue through the summer.
  • New screeners will be required to undergo 40 hours of classroom training, followed by 60 hours of on-the-job training -- and must pass an exam before employment is finalized.
  • Since the TSA can't take over all the functions at once, it is looking to airlines and existing security companies for assistance -- even though they will have no authority over screeners.

Congress has set a November deadline for all screeners to be government employees.

But insiders are expecting confusion and mistakes in the interim, because if the system breaks down there is no clear pattern of who would be in charge.

And money questions remain unanswered. TSA officials don't think they will have nearly enough money to pay for all the projects they have to undertake this year. But they haven't come up with an alternative way to fund the agency's mandates.

Source: Stephen Power and Susan Carey, "Uncle Sam Mans the Scanners," Wall Street Journal, February 8, 2002.


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