TSA to Seek Private Screening Firms for Airports in California, Florida www.privateofficer.com
Washinton DC Jan 9 2013
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is preparing to hold competitions to award private security contracts for airports in San Francisco, Sacramento and Orlando.
On Jan. 23, TSA anticipates releasing a request for proposals (RFP) for private security screening firms to replace federal screeners at two new airports in its Screening Partnership Program (SPP) — Sacramento International Airport (SMF) in California and Orlando-Sanford International Airport (SFB) in Florida, the agency said Friday. TSA also will recompete services at California’s San Francisco International Airport (SFO), one of the first five airports to join SPP in its original pilot program in 2004.
Five-year contract awards could go to up to three security firms, one for each airport, TSA said in a presolicitation notice. TSA said it would release a detailed statement of work in the RFP on Jan. 23.
“There will be a site visit for each airport. Information on dates, locations, and structure of these site visits shall be updated on http://www.fbo.gov,”; TSA said.
The Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-095), sponsored by Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), forced TSA to make it easier for airports to adopt private screeners by shifting the burden of proof for any potential harm to national security from the airport to TSA. This change prompted some airports to resubmit rejected applications and for TSA to start approving more SPP airports under Administrator John Pistole.
On July 27, 2012, Sacramento became one of the most recent airports to receive TSA approval to enter the SPP. The move sparked a protest from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the union that represents TSA airport screeners.
“We will continue to fight this because we believe privatization of airport security screening is not in the best interest of the people of Sacramento,” said James Mudrock, AFGE local president in Sacramento, at the time.
On June 11, 2012, Orlando-Sanford International received approval to enter SPP, drawing praise from Mica.
In a statement at the time, Mica said, “It’s critical that TSA get out of the business of running a huge bureaucracy and human resources operation and refocus its attention on security, analyzing intelligence, and setting the highest risk-based security standards. TSA needs to focus on going after terrorists — not little old ladies, veterans and children.”
He added, “Transitioning to the private-federal model at Orlando Sanford and other airports will allow TSA to focus on security and not on personnel management, and it will result in better customer service for passengers, improved security services and more cost-effective security operations. Orlando Sanford will be the largest airport to convert to the private-federal screening model under the opt-out program. As more airports across the country will be encouraged to opt out, both taxpayers and air travelers will benefit from this cost-effective program.”
As an original SPP airport, San Francisco has provided a great deal of insight to congressional committees as to how well SPP programs operate. A report from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, formerly helmed by Mica, found SPP screeners are 65 percent more efficient than federal screeners, projecting the United States could save $1 billion over five years if the top 35 US airports operated as efficiently as San Francisco International.
Sixteen US airports participate in SSP while six others, including Sacramento and Orlando, are going through a procurement process to hire private screeners.