Friday, December 31, 2010

Can privatization save us from the TSA? (Probably not.)

Some of the nation's biggest airports are responding to recent public outrage over security screening by weighing whether they should hire private firms such as Covenant to replace the Transportation Security Administration. Sixteen airports, including San Francisco and Kansas City International Airport, have made the switch since 2002. One Orlando airport has approved the change but needs to select a contractor, and several others are seriously considering it.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which governs Dulles International and Reagan National airports, is studying the option, spokeswoman Tara Hamilton said.

For airports, the change isn't about money. At issue, airport managers and security experts say, is the unwieldy size and bureaucracy of the federal aviation security system. Private firms may be able to do the job more efficiently and with a personal touch, they argue.

Sounds good, but as the story later notes: "procedures in airport security lines do not change" if a private corporation takes over the screening process. There's still the see-through-your-clothes-scanning and junk-touching that the federal government peforms. So I'm not sure -- as a flier -- what the benefit would be. The government outsourcing its intrusions onto my person to a private company actually makes me feel worse about about those intrusions, not better.

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