Frequently Asked Questions:

What liability is incurred by an SPP airport? None. An airport is not liable per Public Law 109-90-§547, Oct.18, 2005; addressing indemnification by stating: "(g) Operator of Airport – Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an operator of an airport shall not be liable for any claims for damages filed in State of Federal court (including a claim for compensatory, punitive, contributory, or indemnity damages) relating to – (1) such airport operator’s decision to submit an application to the Secretary of Homeland Security under subsection (a) or section 44919 or such airports operator’s decision not to submit an application."

SPP is a federally mandated program and the TSA is the contracting agent for all security services; for that reason a privatized airport’s indemnification is no different than that of a federalized airport. Both are federally regulated; SPP security under TSA regulatory oversight and performance standards must meet or exceed federally provided screening services.

What costs are incurred by the airport? None. All funding for SPP comes from the same budget line items as Federal screening operations and are borne by the TSA. There is no cost for services or equipment to the respective airport.

What benefits have private sector innovation brought to the screening process?
Wait Times Consistently under 10 minutes across SPP airports. Private sector utilizes dynamic scheduling and the most advanced workforce management tools available –
Attendance attendance rate of 97%; nearly 17% higher than federal absenteeism rates
Attrition 15%, while far lower than the federal average, private sector attrition is often due to poor performance, stringent standards and private sector flexibility in terminating nonperformers.
Overtime 3.5% of total hours worked, compared to involuntary overtime rates as high as 32% in federal airports – 40% in LAX
On-the-job Injuries 8% compared to a national federal screener average of over 20% and as high as 28% in LAX
Higher Wages ATSA mandates equal wage and benefits, however SPP’s low attrition rates contribute to SPP screeners on average earning more than their federal counterparts.#
Airport Focused Solutions Private sector screening operations are airport-centric, all HR, Management, and Training initiatives are tailored to the direct needs of its airport. This decentralized management approach circumvents much of the federal gridlock that is endemic of every bureaucracy.
Responsiveness SPP Airports are staffed and managed on-site to best address issues, respond to airport-specific needs by working with the local TSA to offer immediate, sustainable solutions to the screening process.
* SPP offers airports the immediate responsiveness and innovation available to the private sector where federal protocol and bureaucratic processes can often logjam any flexibility by the TSA to immediately address specific needs of the airport or its stakeholders. Through innovative staffing, progressive discipline and best business practices, a private company can aggressively address any operational, personnel or performance concerns. Issues concerning attendance, customer service, staffing, employee attitude and wait times can be addressed immediately.

What happens to the incumbent workforce? Both the TSA and private security companies believe it is in everyone’s best interest to leverage the experience of the current work force, both for security and cost effectiveness. All incumbent workers will be offered priority employment with the private contractor, or there are measures to facilitate movement to either TSA or other federal positions. In a recent TSA study, outlined on their website, wages and benefits at SPP airports were found to meet, and more often exceed, those of federal screeners.

If an airport applies to the SPP, can it later withdraw its application? An Airport may withdraw their SPP application at any point up until TSA releases the Request for Proposal (RFP) for that Airport. Once TSA issues a RFP, it would be difficult to have the airport withdraw its candidacy, since the RFP is the contractual document issued to contract screening services at an airport.

Do contracted screeners draw their authority from the Aviation Transportation and Security Act PL107-71 (ATSA), or do state and local governments have to codify ATSA to establish their authority to perform Administrative Searches? If so, what if there is a conflict with the State Constitution (e.g., random vehicle searches during heightened alert conditions)? Will the Screening Standard Operating Procedures be modified to accommodate these conflicts? Even prior to the passage of ATSA and the Federalization of the screening work force, Federal courts upheld warrantless searches of carry-on luggage at airports. Courts characterize the routine administrative search conducted at a security checkpoint as a warrantless search, subject to the reasonableness requirements of the Fourth Amendment. Such a warrantless search, also known as an administrative search, is valid under the Fourth Amendment if it is "no more intrusive or intensive than necessary, in light of current technology, to detect weapons or explosives, " confined in good faith to that purpose," and passengers may avoid the search by electing not to fly. [See United States v. Davis, 482 F.2d 893, 908 (9th Cir. 1973)]. While the searches at the airport will be conducted by private screening companies, such searches will continue to be subject to the Fourth Amendment requirements of reasonableness because they are conducted at the instigation of the federal Government and under the authority of federal statutes and regulations governing air passenger screening.

What will be the role of the FSD at airports in the Screening Partnership Program? Per ATSA, TSA is to provide Federal Government oversight at each airport at which screening services are provided. Oversight is ensured by TSA's Federal Security Directors (FSDs) who have overall responsibility for airport security. The FSDs will remain at SPP airports as Federal employees and will continue to be responsible for overseeing all screening operations at SPP airports and for ensuring that contract screening companies provide effective and efficient security operations. The mission, mandate and fundamental role of the FSD remains constant regardless of whether the screening work force is composed of Federal or private employees.

What is SPP, and is it the same as Opt-Out? The Screening Partnership Program, or SPP, manages the use of qualified private vendors to perform the screening of passengers and baggage at airports participating in the Program. The Program was designed to meet the requirement for the "opt-out" provision established in the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001, commonly referred to as ATSA.

Since November 19, 2004, airport authorities have been eligible under Federal Law to submit an application to TSA to use private contract screeners.

#TSA Wage and Benefits Study:

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