Private Security Thesis

Pages: 7 (1921 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Transportation

Private Security After 911

The terrorist attack of September 11th, 2001 forever changed American transportation. As the country reeled from the attacks, plans were quickly made to alter the way the United States would screen airport passengers and their property. With the formation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), private screeners were removed from all but five commercial airports in the United States and replaced with federal screeners. The five remaining airports were part of a pilot program, the Private Screening Pilot Program, to "test the effectiveness of increased operational flexibility at the airport level" (Rabkin, 2004). Although challenges and limitations were found with the use of private screeners when it came to detecting threat objects, some operational flexibilities were found. As such, the TSA Screening Partnership Program was developed, which continues to struggle with the challenge of keeping American transportation safe.

Private Security After 9/11

Introduction:

The terrorist attack of September 11th, 2001 forever changed American transportation. As the country reeled from the attacks, plans were quickly made to alter the way the United States would screen airport passengers and their property. With the formation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), private screeners were removed from all but five commercial airports in the United States and replaced with federal screeners. The five remaining airports were part of a pilot program, the Private Screening Pilot Program, to "test the effectiveness of increased operational flexibility at the airport level" (Rabkin, 2004). Although challenges and limitations were found with the use of private screeners when it came to detecting threat objects, some operational flexibilities were found. As such, the TSA Screening Partnership Program was developed, which continues to struggle with the challenge of keeping American transportation safe.

The Transportation Security Administration:

The Office of Homeland Security was formed in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, by President George W. Bush. It was stated that:

The mission of the Office will be to develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks. The Office will coordinate the executive branch's efforts to detect, prepare for, prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks within the United States ("Summary of the President's," 2001).

With the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Department of Homeland Security was created and merged with the Office of Homeland Security. With this merger was an incorporation of a variety of different departments related to national security, including the Transportation Security Administration.

The Transportation Security Administration was formed with the passing of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, on November 19th, 2001, and gave it three primary mandates:

Responsibility for security for all modes of transportation

Recruit, assess, hire, train and deploy Security Officers fro 450 commercial airports from Guam to Alaska in 12 months; and,

Provide 100% screening of all checked luggage for explosives by December 31, 2002 ("Our history," n.d.).

These Congressional mandates were met in March 2003. Originally organized under the Department of Transportation, on November 25, 2002, as directed by the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Transportation Security Administration was reorganized under the Department of Homeland Security.

The TSA's mission, within the Department of Homeland Security, is to protect America's transportation network. To this end, the TSA has designed and implemented a vast array of procedures and programs to secure commercial aviation travel, and also surface methods of transportation as well, in conjunction with federal agencies, state and local governments, and even the private sector (Berrick, 2008). Of the 450 commercial airports whose private screeners were mandated to be replaced by federal screeners, five were allowed to keep privately contracted screening in place through the Private Screening Pilot Program.

The Private Screening Pilot Program:

The Private Screening Pilot Program consisted of 5 of the 450 commercial airports in the United States, including one federalized airport. These first five airports who continued to utilize private screening contractors under the Private Screening Pilot Program were: San Francisco International, Kansas City International, Greater Rochester International (NY), Jackson Hole Airport (WY), and Tupelo Airport (MS) .The Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 required that an 'opt-out' program be available to airlines, in the use of federal screeners, for their facility. This test program ended on November 19th, 2004. However, the TSA issued several temporary bridge contracts to the original five private screening pilot program participants, allowing them to continue providing services while the TSA had time to develop the regulations for applying to become a private screening contractor, as well as the acquisition process, the Qualified Vendors List and the Requests for Proposals, for the new contracts ("TSA awards," 2006). There were challenges, however, encountered by the initial pilot program.

In April of 2004, the General Accounting Office (GAO) was charged with reviewing the Private Screening Pilot Program. They were asked to describe the challenges and limitations of the program, as well as the operational flexibilities the TSA had provided for the private contractors and the efficacy for both the private and federal screeners in detecting threats. The GAO found that the primary limitation of the Private Screening Pilot Program was that there was no effective way to evaluate the differences in performance between the federal and private screeners, let alone uncover the reasons for the differences. In addition, the GAO found that the TSA did not give the private screening contractors much "opportunity to demonstrate innovations, achieve efficiencies, and implement initiatives that go beyond the minimum requirements of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act" (Rabkin, 2004).

The reasoning behind this inflexibility, according to TSA officials, was to ensure that all of the private contractors' procedures were standardized, as well as consistently implemented and well coordinated, throughout all of the American airports, to provide consistent security. Understanding that these limitations while providing standardization also limited efficiencies and efficacies, the TSA requested input from the private screening contractors regarding which additional flexibilities they thought would be most beneficial (Rabkin, 2004). This information was utilized to help develop the TSA Screening Partnership Program.

The TSA Screening Partnership Program

Beginning November 19th, 2004, airport operators were allowed to apply to have their screening functions performed by private screening contractors, through the Screening Partnership Program. As mentioned, this program was developed to fulfill the mandates of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. In addition, the TSA hopes to benefit from the private contractors' expertise. To this end, the airports involved in the program work with the TSA to hire a qualified private screening company. These companies then provide screening services, to the airport, under federal oversight. When an airport becomes part of the Screening Partnership Program, the TSA strives to leverage the current workforce, in order to garner the security and cost effectiveness benefits ("Program overview," n.d.). All of the original five airports who maintained private screeners, after federalization, applied for the program immediately, along with one federalized airport -- Sioux Falls Regional Airport (SD). Jackson Hole was the first airport to be awarded a contract under the Screening Partnership Program. Sioux Falls was the first previously federalized airport to be awarded a privatized contract ("TSA awards," 2006).

Challenges to the TSA Screening Partnership Program:

Although the Screening Partnership Program was developed with the knowledge gained from the Private Screening Pilot Program, there are still challenges the program has to overcome. The GAO did note that the TSA had made progress in some areas including: securing mass transit, freight and passenger rail, commercial vehicles, and highways. They were commended for their efforts to strengthen airport security. Hiring and training of airport security personnel were noted to be improved. Prescreening passengers against terrorist watch lists, as well as screening passengers, baggage and cargo also were all notably improved. Yet, despite these efforts that have been instrumental in strengthening national security, there are still issues the TSA has to face (Berrick, 2008).

One of the items the Screening Partnership Program had incorporated was the GAO's recommendation for methods of performance measurement between private and federal facilities. However, in 2008, the GAO noted that if the TSA planned to rely on the comparison of costs and performance between these two types of facilities, there were limitations that had to be corrected. As an example, various cost elements had been excluded from the TSA's measurement. Without this data, an accurate comparison between federalized and non-federalized airports can not be made. The GAO also recommended conducting statistical tests to ascertain the confidence level in any of the screening performance differences that were observed. The TSA agreed with the GAO's findings and recommendations and are working on implementing appropriate changes ("GAP," 2009). In addition, the GAO found issues with the passenger prescreening system.

Significant progress has been made since September 11th, 2001 when it comes to commercial aviation passenger prescreening. The advanced passenger prescreening system known as Secure Flight, however, still has challenges that need to be addressed. Unreliable program costs and schedule estimates are one such challenge to Secure… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Private Security.  (2009, May 6).  Retrieved December 12, 2018, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/private-security/15344

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"Private Security."  6 May 2009.  Web.  12 December 2018. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/private-security/15344>.

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"Private Security."  Essaytown.com.  May 6, 2009.  Accessed December 12, 2018.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/private-security/15344.