Thousands of people have moved through San Francisco and San Jose International Airports through security checkpoints.
Operations at airports, 35 kilometers away, looked alike – uniformed officers reminding people to take off their shoes and put laptops in plastic boxes, but there was one major difference: only San Francisco airport officials were paid.
This is because San Francisco International is one of almost two dozen airports across the country, using private contractors rather than the Transport Security Administration.
Because shutdown stretched from days to weeks, more and more TSA employees stopped showing. 10% at one time TSA officials did not report duty.
Result: scattered staff scarcity across the country and anxiety for travelers. The airports in Baltimore, Houston and Miami were forced to close checkpoints temporarily. TSA officials admitted that many officials did not work because of financial difficulties in working without pay.
But in San Francisco?
"Operations were Normal," said airport spokesman Doug Yakelis
. It has long been discussed whether airport selection should be carried out by federal government or private companies. And the recently discontinued government – and the opportunity to repeat if the legislators will not be able to agree with President Trump on Friday – some are asking whether anxiety about staff can encourage more airports to consider switching to private contractors
11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks , airport security was managed by private contractors and paid by airlines. However, after September 11th These responsibilities were transferred to the newly created TSA, which is responsible for security checks at most of the 440 airports in the country.
However, as part of this agreement, Congress has also set up a voluntary pilot scheme that allowed five airports to use private contractors for security screening. 2002 The program launched was finally open to all airports. Today there are 22 airports, including five originals: San Francisco, Kansas International Missouri, Greater Rochester, New York, Jackson Hole Wyoming and Tupelo Regional Mississippi.
Why Not More?
states that TSA has not made it possible for airports to switch. The Agency has the final say on whether the airport can choose whether to have a private check, and although the requests are rarely rejected, the process may take a long time. Others blame inertia by saying that some airports do not want to resort to an agreement that
"I don't know why, but it's just imagining that this is the only way to do that," said David Inserra, Heritage Fund's Internal Security Analyst. transition to private enterprise for selection.
Consideration of airport access to the program: the cost of private inspections should not exceed what would be the case if the TSA were to remain at the airport. After approval of the TSA – not the airport – chooses, pays and manages the contractor.
Private contractors must follow the same rules and procedures as their TSA partners, but they have some discretion to determine how they perform checks. Employees wear different uniforms, but their training, pay and benefits are similar. The initial salary for a TSA officer is $ 37,455, but may be higher in some parts of the country, depending on staff needs and cost of living.
Although the private selection staff are contractors, they were paid at the time of the closure of other government contractors. not because they were considered essential workers, and their inability to pay would be in breach of their contract.
The evaluations of the two programs adopted by the two companies employed by the TSA did not reveal any significant differences between these two systems – either cost or opportunity. TSA officials said:
However, studies by the government's accountancy office show that in some cases the costs of private contractors were 2 percent. up to 19 percent lower than TSA calculated cost for the same job. GAO also said that TSA calculations did not include costs such as pension benefits.
The TSA spokesman said the agency had revised its estimates according to GAO's recommendations.
They analyze the absence, retention or weakness of selective employees of private companies
Inserra, of the Heritage Foundation, argues that private companies are better suited to managing airport security. He said he was more willing to manage and maintain staff and could react more quickly to the increase in passenger traffic.
"TSA should focus on policy – setting standards, developing new technologies," added Steve Amitay. National Association of Security Enterprises. “So much TSA is for managing this job. It does a job that is not specific to the government.
The Congressional Research Service report found that when private companies were exposed to security services before the 9/11 attacks, their employees suffered low morale and high levels of turnover – some of the same problems that today's TSA is undermining. However, Amitay argued that the new standards of training and pay improved working conditions and morality for contractors.
However, Greg Regan, Secretary for Transport Transactions, AFL-CIO, a coalition of 32 unions, said security was best left to the federal government
"TSA's mission is to protect people," he said. “The goal is to identify threats and prevent their negative impact on our system. This is the main description of the mission. By privatizing, you enter another goal, and that is profit.
Other union officials say the answer is not privatization, but a functional federal government that can pay its employees and bills on time
"I think our hand throwing and turning to private security operator is not a solution here," said J. David Cox, President of the US Government Employees Federation. "The federal government has to do its job to provide screening services."
Mary Avis, former US Department of Transportation Chief Inspector, and aviation expert added: "We must never say that our TSA employees are not important enough to be
Ji noted that the 9/11 attacks occurred at a time when control points were operated by private companies
Some of the largest airports in the country took the idea of switching to private contractors. 2016 After the understaffed TSA tried to keep up with the record number of travelers, Chicago, New York and Atlantic airport officials threatened to use private contractors.
TSA officials accused backups of annual reductions that forced the agency to reduce its airport staff by 45,000. Furor died after TSA officials promised change and persuaded Congress to increase its staff. TSA has 51,000 selections and about 33,000 jobs on any day
Atlantic City International Airport has recently moved to private checks after the disappointment of TSA staff who did not take flight delays.
Stephen F. Dougherty, Executive Director of the South Jersey Transportation Service, said the TSA would regularly close the airport checkpoint at certain hours, regardless of whether the flights were delayed. As a result, hundreds of passengers have missed their flights because no one has removed them through security.
"[Atlantic City International] is proud that it is more convenient, a more comfortable airport for passengers than large airports in the region, and this change contradicts the core business principles," he said.
Some Republican legislators have promoted legislation to make it easier for airports to switch to private inspections. Last year's bill by Sen Mike Lee (R-Utah), among other amendments, was intended to shorten the time required for airports to obtain TSA approval for switchover. Lee updates his account and plans to reintroduce it this year, his spokesman said. However, the statutory provision to finance the Federal Aviation Administration approved last year requires the TSA to decide on any application within 60 days. The Agency had previously had 120 days to make a decision
Christopher Bidwell, Vice-President of the International Airport Council, Northern Ireland Airport Defenders Group, said he supported programs that give airports the flexibility they need
[SPP] is that it should remain a viable program for all airports that want to participate. ”