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Orlando Airport Committee Votes to Keep Government Employed Screeners

Orlando International Airport. Photo: Renata Sago.
Orlando International Airport. Photo: Renata Sago.

Orlando International Airport's Transportation Security Administration oversight committee surveyed passengers, met with federal officials, and visited other airports for almost two years to find out how to manage complaints about long wait times and customer service.

Their conclusion: work with the TSA to make improvements instead of hiring a private company.

Dean Asher, chairman of the oversight committee, has recommended requiring quarterly accountability meetings and giving the agency nine months to reduce wait times.

“It gives the TSA an opportunity to improve. You know it will give them at least another 9 months to hopefully meet those standards, and if they can’t, then the authority will go back and look at the option of privatizing,” Asher said of the recommendations.

Congressman Alan Grayson, who has supported keeping federally employed screeners, said opting to hire a private contractor would have meant placing profit over the public.

“The risk to our local economy would’ve been enormous. Every single day, we would’ve been playing Russian roulette with our entire tourist industry, and there’s just no excuse for that."

Some supporters of replacing TSA screeners with private ones say it would cost less and be more efficient.

Congressman John Mica has been a proponent of dismantling the TSA, which he helped form shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, for those reasons.  Mica issued a statement today saying he plans to continue working to privatize screening operations at all of the nation's commercial airports.

The Orlando International Airport board will consider the TSA oversight committee’s recommendation at its next meeting in a few weeks.