Monday, February 18, 2008

TSA to test airport employee screening methods

TSA logoThe U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that seven airports in the United States will be taking part in pilot programs to test various employee screening techniques, as required by the Omnibus Appropriations Act passed by Congress in January 2008. The seven airports are Boston's Logan International, Denver International, Jacksonville (Fla.) International, Kansas City (Mo.) International, Eugene (Ore.), Southwest Oregon Regional (North Bend, Ore.) and Craven Regional (New Bern, N.C.).

The new legislation mandates that 100% employee screening be evaluated at three airports and alternative employee screening at four other airports. A TSA news release about the airport employees screening pilot programs explains:
Use of multiple security measures will enable TSA to evaluate the most effective manner of screening airport employees. Airport employees and other employees including concession workers who have access to secure areas of the airports will be screened before they can enter those areas.

TSA currently deploys a layered approach to airport employee security that includes random and roving screening, checkpoint screening for certain populations and “surge" inspections. Random screening ensures that at any time airport employees may encounter security on the airport grounds. In addition, TSA has made strides in improving the airport employee badging process. TSA requires all badged airport employees to have a clear security threat assessment before a badge can be issued and audits are underway at airport badging offices across the country to verify adherence to this measure.
Three types of screening programs will be tested and evaluated.
  • 100 Percent Perimeter Screening - Boston's Logan Airport
    • 100 percent employee and vehicle screening at airport perimeter entrances
    • Use of biometric access control
  • 100 Percent Checkpoint Screening - Jacksonville; Craven Regional
    • 100 percent physical employee screening from the public area to the secure area (known as SIDA)
  • Enhanced Security Screening - Denver; Kansas City; Eugene; Southwest Oregon Regional
    • Random screening
    • Behavior detection programs
    • Employee security awareness training
    • Deployment of portable screening equipment
    • Use of biometric access control (Denver only)
Each screening pilot program will last for ninety days. TSA is required to report to Congress before Sept. 1, 2008 on the cost and effectiveness of the pilot programs at each airport.