Recently, you cannot go anywhere on the web without seeing a news story related to the TSA, and all the news is bad. The Transportation Safety Administration, one of the most loathed agencies in the U.S. government, is facing an ever-increasing din of negative publicity in the media, harsh criticism from lawmakers, and an astounding backlash from the public; the agency has rightfully earned such scorn, due to its inability to reduce long lines at major airports or to prove that its existence increases passenger safety, but if you think this may result in the eventual demise of this hated institution, do not start celebrating just yet.
What seemed a good idea in the wake of the September 2001 attacks, has now lost nearly all credibility with the public and many in government. The agency has repeatedly demonstrated that it has not made the public safer with its numerous and well publicized failures to detect contraband items in tests. Furthermore, it has grown into an unwieldy bureaucratic fiefdom of the Department of Homeland Security, that refuses to accept responsibility for its shortcomings and poor management.
While the law that created the TSA was specifically written to include the possibility of airports using private companies (there are only fifteen airports nationwide that have private companies), the TSA has naturally been resistant to allow airports to switch. It is clear why they would do this, it would prove the TSA is unnecessary. The law requires that private security companies comply with TSA security procedures, that they have equivalent staffing, and pay in relation to the TSA. What this means, is that even if airports were to switch to private companies, not much would be likely to change because of these requirements.
The recent criticism by members of Congress, while unprecedented in it harshness, has still not resulted in major reforms. The new head of the TSA, Peter Neffenger, fired the Head of Security Operations, Kelly Hoggan, a man who was paid over $90K in bonuses while presiding over the current crisis as well as the debacle related to the failure of 67 of 70 secret tests where guns, knives and other contraband was not detected in carry on luggage. The surprising thing about this firing is that it is the first time the TSA has actually sacked anybody in upper management since the agency was created fifteen years ago.
The public outcry against the TSA has only grown from year to year, and this year it has reached a fever pitch due to the inordinately long waiting lines at major airports. Congress and the TSA are pointing fingers at each other, but this has not solved the problem. The TSA claims the fault lies with Congress for slashing the TSA’s frontline workforce by roughly 5000 people. The Congress has pushed back insisting that TSA has mismanaged staffing so that their budget would be restored. Clearly, there are not enough people in government willing to eliminate the TSA, but that is eventually what needs to happen. The careerist bureaucrats will resist this at every turn and as always resort to fear-mongering the public to accept it. But it is clear from the record of other countries who have private airport security screeners(France, Italy. Germany), that the days of the TSA are numbered; it is not clear, however, how long it will take before this hated agency reaches its end.