Friday, March 11, 2011

TSA revises estimates on using private airport security screeners

A long-simmering dispute on the use of private security screeners at U.S. airports boiled over again this week as the top House Republican on transportation issues accused the Transportation Security Administration of inflating the cost of using such screeners in an effort to keep federal screeners on the job.

Under a program overseen by the TSA, 16 airports - including ones in Kansas City, Rochester, N.Y., and San Francisco - use private screeners to inspect airline passengers, baggage and cargo; all other airports rely on federal transportation security officers.

TSA Administrator John S. Pistole suspended the program in January, saying he did not see the advantage of expanding it at this point.
An agency study published in 2007 estimated that using private screeners would cost 17 percent more than federal screeners. But according to a Government Accountability Office report released this week, the agency revised its estimates in January and now says that private screeners would cost just 3 percent more.

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