Agency is unlawfully blocking airports from switching to private screeners

Steve Watson
Prisonplanet.com
March 10, 2011

Congressman: TSA Cooked The Books To Discourage Use Of Private Security Contractors In Airports 100311Mica

The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has charged that the TSA intentionally fixed data to ensure that federal workers were employed to screen airport passengers, rather than private contractors.

“TSA cooked the books to try to eliminate the federal-private screening program,” said Florida Republican, Rep. John L. Mica.

Mica made the remarks following revelations from federal auditors that cost differentials between federal employees and private contractors were overstated by the TSA “in error”.

In a letter to Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that the TSA’s cost estimates suggested private screeners were 17% more expensive than federal workers.

However, in reality the difference may be lower than 3%, because the TSA failed to account for workers compensation, liability insurance, retirement benefits and administrative overheads.

The TSA made it appear that it was more cost effective for airports to use federal government workers for security “by increasing the costs for private-contractor screeners relative to federal screeners,” the auditors wrote.

“GAO found that TSA ignored critical data relating to costs,” Congressman Mica stated Wednesday.

Mica suggested that even the revised cost difference was still to high because it does not acknowledge “the full cost of TSA’s bloated and unnecessary bureaucratic overhead.”

“I am confident that the private sector can not only perform better, but do so at a lower cost to the taxpayers,” Mica added.

The 2001 Aviation Transportation Security Act, which created the TSA, contained an option written in by Congress allowing airports to choose between using TSA workers and private screeners. It is known as the Security Partnership Program (SPP).

Currently, sixteen airports throughout the country use private contractors under the SPP, however, the TSA has since actively prevented other airports from joining the program, as more and more express an interest in dropping the federal workforce in wake of an epidemic of TSA scandals and failures.

Mica, who helped create the TSA after 9/11, has since stated that he believes the agency is completely out of control and now believes it should be radically reformed.

He recently explained to Judge Andrew Napolitano of Freedom Watch, that five more airports have attempted to opt out of the TSA and employ private contractors, but have been denied the right by TSA head John Pistole:

Mica vowed Wednesday to continue to expose the “distortion and misstatement of facts used in the denial of each of these five airports’ participation in the federal-private screening program.”

“It is my intent to make certain that TSA cannot arbitrarily deny any future application from an airport to participate in the private screening program,” he said.

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