Both the Houston Chronicle and the Huffington Post have picked up on the TSA’s budget trouble – well, the budget cuts that is. The problem? Not even the government likes the TSA any longer. After being told that they treat people like prisoners, waste taxpayer money and generally do a bad job, the TSA has actually taken some steps to see if they can salvage anything at all. Which isn’t probable.
The steps they’re taking have the unpleasant and familiar stink of retaliation about them, however, since the TSA says that waiting time in security lines will go up, something bound to frustrate and anger a lot of passengers in a lot of airports. So what should airports do? The answer is simple, really:
Kick. Them. Out.
The slash on checkpoint spending comes after both Republican and Democrat House members criticized the airport security agency last month for wasting time and taxpayer money on ineffective security methods, including faulty equipment and mistreatment of passengers. A Congressional investigative agency found that full-body scanners, which can cost $250,000 each, were not in regular use, and one lawmaker said the airport security agency treated Americans like “prisoners.”
Kick the TSA out, that is. The legislation that founded the TSA actually includes an “opt-out” option for airports, where they can apply to the TSA for permission to use a private security company instead of the federal agency, and kick the feds to the curb. That hasn’t happened in many instances, partly because airports simply haven’t done it, and partly because the TSA has been able to deny such applications without the requirement to give any other explanation than “it doesn’t serve the federal government at this time”. That is all about to change.
Weary travelers have reported waiting as long as 50 minutes at Phoenix Sky Harbor International and 49 minutes at San Francisco International.
Yet checkpoint lines threaten to grow longer for the nation’s 650 million air travelers, with the deficit-conscious White House and Congress reluctant to add equipment and staff, the TSA imposing budget cuts and the likelihood that more people will be flying as the economy improves.
New legislation demands that the TSA explain any denials they issue, and airports in the US are getting wise to the benefits of getting rid of what is possibly the most hated federal agency of all time and hiring better, faster, cheaper and more comfortable private security to do their job instead. Why is private security all these things?
Here’s another simple answer:
A private company knows that it has to actually keep its customer happy in order to keep the company in business. If the company doesn’t do the job, and do it well, some other outfit eill take over. That danger of getting fired just doesn’t exist for a federal agency, and priorities shift, from focusing on the greater good and the good of the customer – in this case the airports – to an apathetic forward motion filled with knee-jerk reactions. After all, that agency doesn’t need to take long term consequences or losses into account – it’s a federal agency!
Private security has the absolute corner in the business these days, and in the EU, most airport security missions are handled by companies such as Securitas, G4S and others. Even though the odd scandal pops up, the number of unwanted incidents, thefts, “gropings” and other civil liberty infringements is exceptionally low where private security handles the operation. The sheer size of the companies let them have leeway to pick and choose who they want to train as screeners and supervisors, and the training is extensive.
The TSA is notoriously slow, whereas a private company must be adaptable and quick on the draw when things happen around them. Regulations, demands and requirements will change, threats will evolve and shift, and whatnot else. Where the TSA is a massive bureaucracy machine, a private company has to be sleek, in order to both be as economically viable as possible and as quick to meet customer demands as possible.
Well… see the above, really. The first bullet on any airport administration’s to-do list these days should be to kick the TSA out of their checkpoints as quickly as possible, and replace them with a reputable air security company. There’s no question about it, and what will happen? Happier travellers (more business for the airport and the airlines) safer travel (a leaked TSA report reveals that private companies do twice as well in dummy tests as the TSA), better and more consistent training for officers and a happier workforce.
So where’s the downside? Well… we couldn’t find any. If you know of one (or more) leave us a comment! We’d be interested in knowing.