Centerlines - December 2009 - (Page 9)

A S S O C I AT E S ’ C O R N E R The Screening Partnership Program: Is the Opt-Out Still an Option? WHEN CONGRESS AUTHORIZED the Transportation Security Administration in 2001, it authorized a two-pronged airport security screening approach. Most common is the more than 45,000 federal transportation security officers. The second authorized approach utilizes a post-9/11 model of qualified, private screening companies contracted to the TSA. A pilot program involving five airports validated this alternative and in November 2004 the option was offered to airports nationwide as the screening partnership program. Early indications were that dozens of airports were seriously considering “opting-out” of the TSA program and going the private route. The original five airports have grown to 17. The airports in the program are thrilled with it. The TSA Program Office and local TSA staffs partner well with the companies. High levels of security effectiveness and customer service are the norm. Yet, five years after launching the option, the number of participants is modest. Why? The program was designed as an additional “arrow in TSA’s quiver,” affording opportunities to bring industry “best practices” to security and manpower management, providing airports a voice and giving TSA an option in meeting budgetary, staffing and operational issues. And, there was politics. While Congress wanted to demonstrate its post-9/11 resolve, some hesitancy remained in establishing a large federal organization without at least offering a private enterprise alternative. Next came one of the largest and quickest “stand-ups” ever of a federal department. Even as the agency progressed, airports looked for options and perhaps one answer was the partnership program. As the question was sometimes asked “how can the operator of security also be the overseer,” the program model offered one answer: federal oversight over private company operations. The model demonstrated the “three legged stool” partnership that was possible: important federal oversight, an airport stakeholder role and a nimble private operator all combined to provide high levels of customer-focused security. In this model, program contractors, the TSA and airports all have worked diligently to be good partners. Innovations and best practices such as performance incentives, local recruiting and training, workers compensation management and sophisticated scheduling tools demonstrate that the program, with accountability and some latitude can contribute meaningfully. Some practices are now even the national norm. In the end, the TSA can fulfi ll its important security role while the private company can focus its resources and best practices to manage the full spectrum of human resources. Now? The private companies in the program continually contribute at high levels. Moreover the TSA leadership views the program as it was designed: an additional resource for a common airport security effort. Is the option still viable? Absolutely. Several airports are giving it serious consideration. Reasons vary, but overall, they are looking for a different approach for their airport community. They see the positive, even award-garnering partnerships established at the current program airports and envision the same for themselves. Some, interested in additional revenue streams, see the program as a possibility. Earlier liability concerns have been mitigated; customer service focus is high. As an established agency, TSA more clearly views the program as one of its many tools for homeland security. There is room for growth; there is a place for the option. ■ GARY SMEDILE DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT FIRSTLINE TRANSPORTATION SECURITY Firstline Transportation Security is a program participant. Smedile is also a member of ACI-NA’s Public Safety and Security Committee Steering Committee. Participating airports The original five in the pilot program: • Jackson Hole, Wyo. • Kansas City • Rochester, N.Y. • San Francisco • Tupelo, Miss. In addition, the following are fully operational: • 34th Street Mid-town Manhattan Heliport • Glasgow, Mont. • Glendive, Mont. • Havre, Mont. • Key West, Fla. • Lewistown, Mont. • Miles City, Mont. • Roswell, N.M. • Sidney, Mont. • Sioux Falls, S.D. • Sonoma County, Calif. • Wolf Point, Mont. | CENTERLINES

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Centerlines - December 2009

Centerlines - December 2009
Table of Contents
President's Message
Canadian Airports
Associates' Corner
Policy Corner
Training Center
On the Hill and On the Stump
Cover Story: Time to Look Ahead
Griesbach Concessions Award Winners
Passenger Focus: Enabling the Disabled
Environment: Sustainable Aviation Guidance Alliance
Now Underway
New Members
Index of Advertisers/
Box Scores

Centerlines - December 2009