I hate TSA.
I know that I am not alone in that sentiment. I think it is one of the biggest wastes of money in the federal government. The quality of the product borders on ridiculous. There are the well documented cases of not being allowed to take a cupcake through because it has too much “gel” in the form of frosting, and the obvious removal of shoes, jackets, and who knows what else in the future. Of course there is also all of the uproar over full body scanners that can easily be seen as an invasion of privacy.
Beyond the well documented accounts, we all have experiences of forgetting a knife or some other weapon in our bag that gets completely missed. I even had one friend who had forgotten two knives, but only one was found by the screeners.
An article in the New York Times made me aware of something that many people may not realize: since TSA was created in 2001 airports have been allowed to request permission to replace federal screeners. To this point only 16 airports have been given permission to make the switch, but others are beginning to consider the option despite TSA saying they will no longer accept applications last year.
In response to that decision by TSA, Representative John L. Mica, Republican of Florida, included a provision in aviation legislation that strengthens the ability of airports to switch to private screeners which passed in February. Mica represents the district that includes the Orlando Sanford Airport that is anxiously trying to switch to private screeners.
According to the above mentioned article, the committee that supported the provision estimated that if the 35 biggest airports in the country switched to private screeners, the government would save $1 billion over five years. I wouldn’t be surprised if those numbers were inflated to prove their point, but everyone agrees that private screeners are cheaper than TSA.
In an economy, and aviation industry, where every dollar counts, how can this not become a more viable option for the nation’s airports? The answer is TSA being unwilling to give up their monopoly. If they are forced to compete against private companies that have to operate efficiently, they will have to change the way they operate. They will no longer be able to waste millions of dollars on useless purchases like changing the color of shirt their employees wear, and that is awesome.
If this provision does nothing more than force TSA to operate more efficiently and effectively, then it is one of the best bills I have heard about in recent memory. Here’s hoping that airports are actually able to have the screeners they want to have without any unnecessary hoops to jump through from the government, but what are the odds of that happening?
What is your take on the value of TSA over private screeners?