Publisher's Column

July 8, 2004

Publisher's Comment

Time to Reinvent TSA

By Paul Bowers

July 2004

The Transportation Security Administration was created to serve all forms of transportation, from aviation to trucking to mass transit to cargo ships.

TSA has tipped the scales in excess of 60,000 employees and a 2005 fiscal budget of $5.3 billion. Yet, the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General reports that passenger and baggage screening by TSA employees remains lax and is no better than services provided by the five airports in the private screening pilot program.

TSA says it can solve the problem with (you guessed it) more money. Now consider that 98 percent of the $5.3 billion earmarked for TSA in 2005 is going to aviation. And that is mainly for commercial aviation.

It's ludicrous to believe that the other forms of transportation can be managed for a paltry $146 million. If President Bush is loath to spend substantially more money for federal spending where will the necessary resources come from?

Perhaps the time is ripe to look at the role of TSA and to transition passenger and baggage screening to airports and the private sector. Airports typically are already in the security business and they have a lot more flexibility than TSA. They could oversee the process and subcontract with the private sector for actual screening services.

TSA would still be in a position to create the rules, monitor the actions, and make changes as conditions dictate. Savings and efficiencies that result could save TSA and taxpayers untold dollars.

Now is the perfect time to look at everything that was created in the haste of post 9/11. It's time to rethink the security model before we create the largest, most expensive federal agency ever known.