Us

TSA Will Not Expand Private Screening Program at Airports

A passenger is examined by a full-body scanner at a Transportation Security Administration screening check-point at O'Hare International airport in Chicago November 24, 2010. The TSA has been flooded with complaints concerning what some term their law-enforcement style pat downs of passengers opting-out of full-body scans.

A passenger is examined by a full-body scanner at a Transportation Security Administration screening check-point at O'Hare International airport in Chicago November 24, 2010. The TSA has been flooded with complaints concerning what some term their law-enforcement style pat downs of passengers opting-out of full-body scans.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has decided not to expand a program that would allow airports to replace government screeners with private screeners. 

The news comes a month after the agency said it was "neutral" on the program. The screening program became popular following the uproar over enhanced security pat-downs, which some travelers found intrusive.

In a statement, TSA Administrator John Pistole said he "examined the contractor screening program and decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports as I do not see any clear or substantial advantage to do so at this time."

Private screening companies that are currently contracted in airports around the country are chosen, supervised and paid for by TSA.

U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, slammed the TSA for its decision, saying he plans to launch an investigation and that "nearly every positive security innovation since the beginning of TSA has come from the contractor screening program."

"It’s unimaginable that TSA would suspend the most successfully performing passenger screening program we've had over the last decade. The agency should concentrate on cutting some of the more than 3,700 administrative personnel in Washington who concocted this decision, and reduce the army of TSA employees that has ballooned to more than 62,000," Mica added.