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U.S. Airport Security-What are we doing wrong?

After the terrorists’ attacks in the U. S on 11th of September, a lot of schemes were put down to safeguard the nation, more especially in the sector of aviation. However, to this end there are very few efforts that are being put forth to enhance protection in the air space. This is happening regardless of the huge sums of finances are aimed at effecting airport security. Besides, the travelers spend a lot of time getting inspected; this does not seem to yield much fruits either. Therefore, it is necessary that the Congress reorganizes its strategies, through ensuring that commuting through the air is completely safe for U.

S citizens (Carafano & Poole, par 1). The Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) that was endorsed by the Congress after 11th of September incidence led to the formation of such bodies as Transport Administration (TSA), which at first operated under the Department of Transportation; nonetheless, the TSA came to be absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). ATSA delegated all the matters pertaining to security in the airport into the TSA custody (GAO, pp 1).

In this way, a great labor force from the government was obtained to help in inspection of travelers and their possessions. As a consequence, the staff that had previously been employed at the airport left. Among the major roles of the TSA was to ensure that all luggage was free from explosives come 31st December, 2002; however, this was moved back for an extra year. Centralizing security issues in the airport was done on the basis of a supposition that all those individuals who are traveling are usually chary and therefore should receive the same treatment in terms of screening.

In addition, the attention of the security of airport was diverted to seeking for unsafe items for instance any sharp metallic objects, missiles and arms, hence keeping them away from aircrafts (Carafano & Poole, par 2). The aforementioned suppositions did not confer any kind of security to the nationals; instead, it did cost the Americans a lot of money. Expensive apparatus for screening baggage had to be obtained, for instance in September, 2005; an estimate of $2.

5 billion was spent on luggage screening apparatus; notwithstanding the fact that only a few airways had installed the machines, and ineffectiveness of the Explosive Detective System (EDS); partly due to the fixed cut-off dates that the Congress had inflicted. Also, the since this operation came up after the airports had been put in place, the area within the airport was too little to accommodate the security personnel, the machines and the passengers. As a result, the areas where processing of baggage used to be done were given for putting in place the ECD machines.

Additionally, the machines are large in size whereas the luggage processing system for the airports is substantially small. Due to this arrangement, travelers moved their luggage to those people who were scrutinizing the suitcases who in turn directed them to the EDS machines. Still, this is a procedure that is strenuous and takes a lot of time to accomplish the tasks, thereby making it ineffective (Carafano & Poole, par. 5). Moreover, the decision to have some specific individuals doing the screening makes the whole work to drag, hence people are kept waiting for long hours.

As an attempt to bring a solution to this issue, more personnel in charge of screening baggage were recruited. Reports indicate that in totality, the total number of workers in charge of screening were thrice as much the number of workers before the 11th of September incidence. As if this is not enough, 45, 000 workers were to be employed on a full-time basis by the year 2003. Nonetheless, the process of scrutinizing luggage and people was still slow and costly thus inconveniencing the passengers.

More to the point, there was no security to the Americans. Similar findings have been revealed by different reports; for instance, in 2005, the General Inspector, DHS Office, together with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that there was no advancement in security provision at the airports as a result of laying down the screening procedures. The major point of argument is that scrutiny is concentrated on the baggage and passengers whereas the aircrafts are left unattended as well as being shielded from items that could cause harm.

The only difference appears to be in the workforce; the government workers have replaced the private employees but the former operate a greater cost compared to the latter (Elrom, par 6). The security in the airport was federalized in order to give an advanced type of security to the entire nation irrespective of the varied sizes of airports and the purpose they served. However, this is where the problem arose from; the variation in the processes that take place within an airport consequently has an effect on services regarding travelers and luggage.

Therefore, devising a uniform mode of operation automatically renders the airport services ineffectual. A lot of variation is observed in the aviation business especially in the travelers’ population. Reports indicate that between the years 2003 and 2004, the percentage rise in customer turn up was between 11% and 50%, in 26 out of the 100 U. S largest airports. Conversely, three airports were recorded have a reduction in customer population ranging between 5% and 35%.

In smaller airports, the percentage increase in the customer population is much larger as compared to the big airports. Changes in operation of an airline, for instance into a smaller airport will challenge the TSA operation. An excess of employees or less may be recruited to the site; and it will take them long time to adapt to the situation, hence the deduction that private quarters adapt much faster than the government (Carafano & Poole par 9; Zellan, pp. 46). ATSA has given out the freedom to choose to rely upon the private area for scrutiny of passengers (Zellan, pp.

50). However, the chances that such an initiative will be appreciated are very low. At one time, ATSA gave mandate to five operating airlines to go for screening services not provided by TSA to find out whether TSA was efficient in its services. But these airlines were waiting for TSA to give a list of private firms that met the standards of screening and security at the airport; as well as giving guidelines towards the execution of screening services from private providers and selection of particular airlines that were legible for such an activity.

Even though TSA gave the various names of private firms for screening, it didn’t go to the extent of choosing the best through proposal writing (Carafano & Poole par. 10). As an alternative, TSA allocated its own expert enterprises to the airports after which the services turned out to be on contract terms. Moreover, ATSA issued a deadline for airports selection of services that were provided TSA and those offered on contract terms. But when dead line drew nearer, TSA explained how it was related to the contract screening services.

In as much as TSA worked hard to market itself, it won very few stakeholders. TSA had authority over staff recruitment but no chance was given to private investors in the same line of business. GAO, in the 2004 statement, notes that the private sector has not been given the chance to show how and realize effectiveness. Additionally, it was observed that contractors were not given the ability to recruit and appoint staff members. Instead the whole process was entirely controlled by TSA and this usually took a long duration.

This tendency of employee hiring contributed to a poor conduct of employees in the workplace since they knew that they were not likely to be replaced for the reason that the process of staffing was poor (Carafano & Poole par 12) Within the four years, it has been shown clearly that the U. S government is incapable of out- competing the private quarter in screening activities. The same lesson has been learnt by other nations that have attempted to use government workers in maintaining security at the airport.

The history of aircraft skyjacking dates back to the year 1970 and the main solution was found in employing government workers in keeping security at the airport. But with time there was advancement in this strategy. As at 1980, in Europe, a system was established whereby the workforce in charge of security at the airport was working on a “performance-contract basis”. The role of the government was in putting and implementing the required working structures whereas the airlines played a role in assigning of security firms; and where it prompted, they engaged their staff members.

This structure was adopted by many countries among them being Netherlands and Belgium. As at 1990, the above mentioned structure had revolutionized; security at the airport was a joint venture between the public and the private lines, such that Switzerland, had adopted this structure by 1999. When GAO carried out a study on the screening processes of Netherlands, France, Canada, the United Kingdom and Belgium, in the year 2001, the European nations were observed to execute the security tasks diligently. GAO compared this system to that in the U.

S and four differences came out: the whole system of security was appropriately designed ranging from the servicing the passengers to screening of luggage. Secondly, the screeners were highly trained, hence qualified to carry out the screening procedure. Consequently they were well paid thus less workers abandoned their duties. Then, the role of screening was devoted between the government and the airport and not the airlines. The U. S Congress however has failed to recognize this model. Nations in the Far East, for instance, Israel have adopted this system (Zellan, pp. 65).

The problem lies within the Congress: after the September attacks, the government’s center of attention was on “inspection” instead of considering how they could best hold off the terrorists from getting into the U. S planes (Zellan, pp. 48). Shifting this model into the appropriate system requires a voice from the Congress to state that security in the airport will be arrived at through keeping terrorists aloof and not concentrating on people’s baggage (keady, Par 5). So much work has been piled on the TSA; splitting of duties to the DHS and ATSA will ensure efficiency. Additionally, each department should have its roles clearly described.

The government should delegate the screening process to private firms and the airports; however, it should set and execute high standards of operation. Firms that are offering security services and employees require licensing. Additionally, the security personnel need to undergo intensive training under a proper program of study. Besides, better pays should be offered to the security workforce (GAO, pp. 26).

Work Cited:

Carafano, J. J & Poole, R. W. : Time to rethink Airport Security, The Heritage Foundation, 2006, retrieved on 6th April, 2009 from: http://www. heritage. org/Research/HomelandSecurity/bg1955.cfm Elrom, S. : TSA and Aviation Security: What is wrong with their concepts and strategy-Part One, Global Politician, 2007, retrieved on 6th April, 2009 from: http://www. globalpolitician. com/23604-security GAO, Report to congressional requesters ISBN 1428934650, 9781428934658, DIANE publishing, 2004. Keady, J. : Airline Safety-Or where Do we Go from Here? ArmChair World, 2004, retrieved on 6th April, 2009 from: http://www. armchair. com/travel/articles/keady2. html Zellan, J. : Aviation Security: Current Issues and developments, ISBN 1590338707, 9781590338704, Nova Publishers.

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