As the TSA continues to fend off claims that its agents are guilty of groping passengers, a newly released report by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure suggests that the embattled agency is also guilty of distorting the truth and wasting taxpayers’ money.
Rep. John Mica (R-FL), who chairs the committee, notes that in January of 2011, the TSA pulled the plug on the Screening Partnership Program (SPP). The program, begun after 9/11, allowed airports to “opt out” of the use of TSA screeners in favor of hiring private contractors. A total of 16 airports exercised that option, the most recent being Orlando Sanford International Airport in Florida, which announced its decision to go private in November of 2010.
Upon announcing its plan to terminate the SPP, TSA Chief John Pistole claimed the decision was based on a cost analysis that showed that hiring private security firms to conduct airport checkpoint screenings was too expensive. The new report, however, suggests that precisely the reverse is true. As Congressman Mica notes in a press release:
TSA cooked the books when conducting past cost comparisons of the two models, misleading Congress and the public by artificially inflating the costs to use private contract screeners. As our report reveals, when considering critical information previously ignored by TSA, the private-federal option is actually 65% more efficient and would increase taxpayer savings by at least 42%.
The report itself demonstrates that using private contractors is dramatically more cost-effective than using government screeners. Notes Mica, “If the nation’s top 35 airports opted out, we could save taxpayers $1 billion over the next five years.”
The report was released on Friday. The TSA has not yet responded, though considering the agency refused to cooperate with the committee’s investigation, a reaction is not likely to be forthcoming.
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- Florida airport to opt out of TSA screening
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