The TSA Blocks Private Screeners

CNN reports that the Transportation Security Administration has decided it will no longer approve applications from airports seeking to replace TSA screeners with private contractors. This is an abrupt reversal from the agency’s alleged “neutral” stance it announced just several weeks ago.

TSA chief John Pistole said Friday he has decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports, saying he does not see any advantage to it.

Though little known, the Screening Partnership Program allowed airports to replace government screeners with private contractors who wear TSA-like uniforms, meet TSA standards and work under TSA oversight. Among the airports that have “opted out” of government screening are San Francisco and Kansas City. . . .

“If airports chose this route, we are going to work with them to do it,” a TSA spokesman said in late December.

But on Friday, the TSA denied an application by Springfield-Branson Airport in Missouri to privatize its checkpoint workforce, and in a statement, Pistole indicated other applications likewise will be denied.

“I examined the contractor screening program and decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports as I do not see any clear or substantial advantage to do so at this time,” Pistole said.

CNN reports that Rep. John Mica (R-FL) plans to investigate the TSA’s abrupt change in policy.