Airlines Want Government to Return Diverted TSA Funding
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The TSA has received a lot of the criticism because of the lengthy delays at security checkpoints in recent months. The agency has said that budget cuts forced it to downsize its workforce over the past few years and the resulting shortage of agents is the main reason for the current excessive wait times.
Airlines for America, the main airline trade organization in the United States, has released a statement that sheds light onto the TSA’s budget situation and presents a solution.
According to A4A, some of the fees collected to fund the TSA have been diverted to help pay down the deficit. The lobbying group's CEO, Nick Calio, wrote a letter to request that Congress return $13 billion in money collected as part of the so-called 9/11 Fund.
In the letter, Calio said that the decision to divert funding “has come home to roost. If Congress wanted to take constructive and well-justified action, it would immediately pass legislation putting that money, paid by airline passengers, where it belongs.”
This money could help address the budget shortfall, but it might not solve everything. In fact, the TSA’s budget has actually grown over the long term. In a press release announcing Calio’s request to Congress, A4A said that “TSA’s aviation security budget grew seven percent from 2006 to 2015, yet the number of passengers screened has declined five percent during the same time period, suggesting resources are not currently allocated where needed.”
In short, TSA has not been able to manage the money that it already has or improve its strategy for screening passengers more efficiently. Those who are calling for airport security to be privatized point to this mismanagement as an example of the excessive amount of bureaucracy within the agency and its inability to change.
Some experts also suggest that switching to private security contractors will cost less money overall.
Budget changes or a switch to private contractors will take time. At least for this summer, fliers and airlines are just going to have to make the best of the current situation.
A4A seems to realize this. It has made some specific requests to the TSA that could help in the short term.
These suggestions include giving local TSA authorities the power to make manpower decisions immediately without having to consult TSA headquarters, waiving the signup fee for PreCheck, and assigning specially trained Behavior Detection Officers (BDOs) to check travel documents.
More by Josh Lew
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