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TSA Will Not Expand Private Screener Program

02/09/2011 -The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has stopped approving applications from airports hoping to launch private screener programs and will not expand its program past the 16 airports that currently use contract screening,reports The Washington Post.

The Post cites the TSA blog, which states that although the TSA is still accepting applications for contract screening, they won't be accepted.

"Unless a clear and substantial advantage to do so emerges in the future, the requests will not be approved," the blog states. "The 16 airports that are currently using contractor screening will continue to operate under TSA regulation just as they have been."

According to the  Post:

...employees of private contractors are required by federal law to undergo the same training, use the same pat-down techniques and operate the same equipment - such as full-body scanners - that the TSA does.

MSNBC reportsthat Rep. John Mica (R-FL), said "it is “unimaginable” that TSA would end “the most successfully performing passenger screening program we’ve had over the last decade." MSNBC further reports that Mica intends to launch an investigation into the decision.

Reason's Robert Poolewrites that private screeners are at least as effective as TSA screeners, and he argues that they are likely more cost efficient as well.

For the time being, it appears that TSA will not allow more airports to privatize passenger screening. However, MSNBC reports that numerous airports are still hoping to opt-out of using TSA screeners and are maintaining their applications for private screening.

♦ Photo of passenger screening byrick/Flickr