Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Security Wait-Times at BWI
Flora Jane Elzey, University of Baltimore
David H. Green IV, University of Maryland Baltimore County
Kevin Patrick Kane, Towson University
Table of Contents
Executive Summary 3
Alternatives-Criteria Matrix 5
1.0 Introduction 7
1.1 Evolution of Airport Security 7
1.2 Current Airport Conditions 9
2.0 Statement of the Problem 12
2.1 Statement of the Goal 12
3.0 Alternatives 13
3.1 CAPPS III 13
3.2 Privatization of Security Screeners 14
3.3 Air-Pass Security Program 17
4.0 Final Recommendations 20
5.0 Acknowledgements 21
6.0 Works Cited 22
7.1 ATSA 1544
7.3 TSA: Then and Now
By the end of 2004, Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) will have lost
more than 70,000 travelers due to increased security wait-times. Since September 11th,
2001, security measures at airports, nationwide, have increased at the cost of consumers,
airlines, airports and states.
Regular flyers can spend up to an average of 18 minutes in line at BWI during peak travel
periods (TSA), which may be even worse during vacation season. The highest recorded
passenger screening wait-time at BWI was 86 minutes, in September of 2003 (TSA).
BWI Airport is the “Easy come, Easy go.” solution to air travel (MAA). The Airport‟s
success hinges on customer satisfaction and loyalty. In the midst the Airport‟s $1.8
billion expansion program, passenger totals are expected to reach over 20 million in 2004
Through efforts such as CUTE (Common Use Technology Equipment), BWI passengers
will be able to move faster and more freely through check-in procedures. However, the
back of the line at passenger screening checkpoints is as far as the Maryland Aviation
Administration (MAA) can take its customers.
Current policy, under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), mandates
passenger screening as a federal responsibility. This makes passenger screening the
direct, and total, responsibility of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The
MAA has no jurisdiction to adjust screener levels to meet peak demand.
The consequences of excessive wait-times through passenger screening checkpoints are a
serious threat to economic stability for the Airport and the State. Over the course of a
year, a one percent (1%) increase in security wait-times at BWI means 70,835 would-be
passengers will seek alternative means of travel. The rate of diversion is higher for
vacation travelers than for business travelers (Morrison). And though BWI emphasizes
convenience in business travel, vacationing was the reason for travel for 74 percent of the
households surveyed, nationwide, in a recent U.S. Bureau of Transportation (BTS)
It needs to be clear that the TSA is not a source of inefficiency or negligence, and there is
no question to the quality of their services. It is the TSA that stands as our frontline of
defense in the war on terrorism at over 400 airports in the United States.
However, TSA staffing is part of federal policy. The number of screeners assigned to
BWI is established by federal policy. The MAA needs the ability to adjust screener
levels to meet increased passenger demand, at the local level, if it is to improve security
To date, the TSA has not announced any plans to hire new security screeners. In fact, the
TSA cut its screener workforce by more than 7,000 positions in September 2003,
according to the agency‟s own press release.
This is a question of screener quantity and who is best fit to set it, federal authorities or
local airport management? Current TSA training methods are extensive and a vast
improvement over pre-September 11th methods. Overall, security methods and
procedures will continue to be supervised by the TSA at BWI. In addition, the staffing
pool for privatized screening gives first preference to current TSA screeners. These
provisions, as set by the ATSA, ensure a minimum of transitional uncertainty if the MAA
were to “opt-out.”
To complement the “opt-out,” the MAA could implement a program similar to the TSA‟s
Registered Traveler Program. The Registered Traveler Program is akin to the EZ-Pass
system for state highways, where individuals pay an annual fee to travel in a marked lane
to bypass traffic congestion.
This proposal would allow frequent air travelers (at least one flight per week) to reduce
their waits at security checkpoints by providing the Airport Security Division with
permission to perform background investigations and use modern technology to acquire
inkless fingerprints and iris scans (biometrics).
During a pilot study of the program in Minneapolis, Minn., as much as an 80% reduction
in wait-times was measured for Registered Travelers as compared to non-registered
According to the TSA, the Registered Traveler program would not significantly reduce
wait-times if the number of screeners provided does not increase. However, if privatized
screening is implemented at BWI, the MAA would determine the number of “Trusted
Traveler” lanes to provide. In addition, the MAA could set the price of enrollment for
participation in the program and have access to the security databases of the Department
of Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal security agencies.
An additional proposal to address the issue of security wait-times is the Computer-
Assisted Passenger Prescreening System III (CAPPS III). This program would require all
passengers to provide extensive background information when purchasing an airline
ticket. The information would then be analyzed and each passenger would be assigned a
threat code to appear on his or her ticket and/or boarding pass. If the passenger is
observed to have a low threat code, she or he would be cleared more quickly, while a
passenger with a high threat code would be pulled aside for more intensive scrutiny.
This version of the CAPPS program would replace the system currently in use by the
airline industry, basing “selectees” (GAO-04-385) on behavioral conditions, such as
flying one-way and paying cash for their tickets. Also, as the passenger checks in, he or
she must provide proof of identity. Those with a high threat level would be prohibited
from boarding the aircraft.
The common bond between these programs is they help minimize security wait-times,
while maintaining a paramount level of security. BWI Airport, at the threshold of
renewed growth and expansion, cannot afford to let security wait-times go unchecked.
BWI customers are seeking alternatives to air travel due to excessive wait-times at
security checkpoints. This problem stems from too few TSA screeners during peak travel
times, as a result of federal policy. A decrease in consumer demand for air travel at BWI
Airport holds significant economic consequences, including decreased revenue for the
State and stunted airport growth.
To identify alternatives to current policy in an effort to minimize security wait-times at
Maximize Minimize Maximize Maximize
political fiscal cost wait-time public support
Passenger Prescreening Low Moderate Low Low
Privatization of Security Moderate-
Low High Moderate
Air-Pass Security Moderate- Moderate-
Program High Moderate-high
Low Moderate High
0 25 50 75 100
Percent of Political Feasibility
Low Moderate High
0 10,000 50,000 100,000 1,000,000+
Low Moderate High
0 25 50 75 100
Percent of Wait-Time Reduction
Low Moderate High
0 25 50 75 100
Percent of Public Support
The Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) should modify its existing security
structure to incorporate new methods designed to minimize security wait-times. We
recommend the MAA consider the implementation of the following alternatives:
Privatization of Security Screeners, airport supports and maintains employment
force dedicated to airport security
Air-Pass Security Program, incorporating the speed of the EZ-Pass with the
security of background checks and flight records
1.1 Evolution of Airport Security
In 1944, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was formed to promote
safety and growth throughout the aviation industry. The rules and regulations from this
organization were incorporated into Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR). Section 107
pertained to airport security and Section 108 pertained to airline and/or passenger
security. “Passenger screening was the responsibility of the airline, not the airport,”
David Temple, MAA Management Analyst.” This changed after September 11th.
On November 19, 2001, President Bush signed Public Law 107-71, better known as the
Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA). This law established the
Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the part of the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security responsible for passenger, cargo and general aviation security
screening. Security rules from Title 14 (FAR 107 & 108) were moved to Title 49 (CFR
1500 to 1544). ATSA also criminalized assault on screening, security and flight crew
personnel, appropriated $1.5 billion dollars for security improvements, assessed a $2.50
per passenger charge to help pay for security and made everyone working at airports
subject to criminal history records checks (CHRC) by the FBI. By November 19, 2002,
the TSA was responsible for screening at every U.S. airport. This increased customer
wait-times due to the more thorough screening process.
To become compliant with the ATSA, BWI spent $1.5 million in federal money for
checkpoint modifications. For fiscal year 2003, the Maryland Transit Authority (MdTa)
police operations cost $14.5 million ($2.4 million provided by Federal) and security
guards cost $ 3.8 million. Also in 2003, $1.87 million of MAA funds were used for
capital costs. The $2.50 fee charged to passengers raised $977 million from January to
September of 2002.
All of these changes increased waiting times for passenger check-in and security
screening. Trying to relieve passengers‟ frustration and waiting times, BWI expanded
their checkpoints from 11 to 26 lanes. Upon the completion of the $250 million
expansion of the A/B Concourse in spring 2005, an additional 11 screening checkpoints
will be created to streamline passenger traffic.
The MAA currently implements Common Use Technology Equipment (CUTE ) at
BWI to allow airlines extra counter space at peak times to check in passengers and issue
boarding passes. The goal of CUTE is to help increase security and help minimize
overall consumer travel wait-times. On the ticketing side of the terminal, CUTE works.
Due to limitations in TSA staffing and too few security lanes to accommodate the influx
of streamlined passengers, bottlenecking occurs quite frequently.
The TSA has taken steps to reducing wait-times at U.S. Airports. Some of the programs
being tested and/or considered by the TSA include the Screening Partnership, Registered
Traveler and CAPPS II (Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System II)
Programs. These programs consider privatized screening, biometric technologies, in the
form of inkless fingerprinting and iris scans, and increased information gathering and risk
assessment of passengers.
In 2002, BWI Airport saw a 6.7 percent decrease in total passengers from 2001. Since
then, the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) has been a model for airports,
nationwide, when it comes to coordinating efforts between themselves, the
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and commercial air carriers, such as
Southwest Airlines Co., to minimize wait-times for consumers.
BWI was the first airport in the U.S. (April 2002) to have screening operations
implemented by the TSA, and the TSA began collecting screening wait-times at BWI in
June of that year. The TSA‟s wait-time goal is less than ten minutes for BWI. However,
in 2002, the average peak wait-time for the months recorded (September excluded) was
11.23 minutes. In 2003, the average peak wait-time at BWI Airport was 17.67 minutes.
Thus far, through the months of January to June 2004, screening wait-times average 12.3
minutes with the heaviest travel months still ahead.
As part of its goal to minimize security wait-times, the MAA continues to implement
innovative ways to assist the TSA in consistently moving passengers through
checkpoints. Cadets from the Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTa) regularly
patrol the terminal roadway to limit drop-off and pick-up times. Leaving a motor vehicle
unattended along the roadway is no longer considered inconsiderate. It is a crime and a
major security violation. If not for the efforts of the MdTa, the TSA would be solely
responsible for maintaining a secure perimeter around the airport. Screening efforts
would be directly impacted as workers were drawn from one post to patrol another. The
end result would be even higher wait-times.
In addition, the MAA maintains a continuous flow of communication with the TSA to
ensure BWI receives the maximum number of screeners and financial assistance
allowable by federal mandates. The TSA faces many challenges. It currently deploys
screeners at over 400 airports throughout the U.S.
To offset the shortage of screeners at BWI, especially during peak travel times, the MAA
uses its many employees and volunteers to filter travelers to the appropriate checkpoints,
answer security questions that would otherwise be asked of TSA workers, and assist in
baggage screening operations. As noted, current policy prohibits the use of any other
security operations to aid in the TSA passenger screening process. The Airport Security
Division at BWI does, however, patrol the terminal, maintaining a safe facility while
keeping TSA screeners at their posts.
In 2003, total passengers at BWI Airport rose 3.6 percent over 2002 totals. In 2004, BWI
Airport expects to reach an all-time high in total passengers, at over 20 million. This
outlook is exciting; however, excessive wait-times present a pitfall for continued growth.
Passenger Totals at BWI (2000 to 2003)
2000 2001 2002 2003
(Passengers in Thousands)
1.2 Current Airport Conditions
By the end of 2004, over 70,000 travelers will have avoided Baltimore-Washington
International Airport (BWI). It‟s simple. Inconvenience drives consumers away. At
present, security screening imposes too high an inconvenience for would-be travelers,
causing many to choose alternative modes of transportation in place of commercial air
It needs to be clear, however, that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is
not a source of inefficiency or negligence. There is no question in the quality of their
services. This is a question of quantity and who is best equipped to manage it.
Current policy, under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), mandates
passenger screening as a federal responsibility. This makes passenger screening the
direct, and total, responsibility of the TSA at every commercial airport in the U.S.
Federal policy restricts the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) from maintaining
screening workforce levels conducive for minimizing security wait-times.
In a fact sheet issued on September 25, 2003, the TSA reported its screener workforce at
48,279 screeners. The purpose of the news release was to notify the public of a reduction
in staffing from a previous level of 55,600 screeners, a difference of over 7,000 positions
and a sign of fiscal responsibility. The U.S. Congress has since capped TSA staffing
levels at 45,000 screeners.
As a result of too few screeners, too few lanes are utilized to check in passengers. At
present, BWI Airport has 26 lanes available for passenger screening. Specific worker
counts on TSA screeners at BWI could not be obtained for this report. However, based
on personal observations and interviews with TSA employees, screening lanes at the
Airport are not utilized to their fullest capacity. It was further discussed in the interviews
that more employees to meet an “under-estimated” increase in passengers at BWI would
Staffing at the federal level is too broad in scope. This leaves no opportunity for BWI to
receive an increase in its screening workforce without federal approval. On the other
hand, if staffing levels were managed at the local level, closer attention could be given
during peak travel times. This would help minimize screening wait-times.
On November 19, 2004, the MAA will have the opportunity to localize screening
operations at BWI through a provision in the ATSA. The Screening Partnership Program
(SPP) grants airports the opportunity to privatize screening operations. The “Opt-Out”
program, as it is more commonly known, would not sacrifice the quality of security
provided by the TSA. Further, screening operations and training at BWI would still be
supervised by the TSA, and the hiring pool for privatized screening could originate from
current TSA screeners. The major benefit for BWI to “opt-out” would be for the MAA to
have the authority to set staffing levels and adjust them accordingly for spikes in
At BWI Airport, in 2004, January to June, screening wait-times have increased 3.5
percent over wait-times during the same period in 2003. This trend is alarming for many
reasons. First, the period of highest recorded average peak wait-times has just begun. In
2003, those months were July through October.
January February March April May June July August September October November December
Second, the 70,000-plus loss in potential travelers mentioned previously is the result of
only a one percent increase in wait-times. At current levels of wait-time increases
(3.5%), the fallout in lost travelers through BWI could escalate to nearly 250,000
travelers for 2004. At a one (1%) increase in wait-times, the state of Maryland loses over
$2.25 million dollars in generated tax revenue from BWI Airport. At 3.5 percent, that
figure swells to over $7.9 million.
Third, wait-times are increasing because, as of now, passenger levels are increasing at
rates not accounted for by the TSA. According to Paul Wiedefeld, Executive Director of
the MAA, in the July 2004 open session meeting of the Maryland Aviation Commission,
BWI is experiencing “robust” growth. In fact, BWI Airport is expected to reach all-time
levels of passengers in 2004, at over 20 million travelers. Mounting wait-times could be
a key contributor if this expected growth stalls.
Fourth, The Wall Street Journal, in an article published July 8, 2004, wrote, “Frustrated
by security-line waits and high fares at major airports, a growing number of travelers
have found a way to save money when flying: They hop in their cars.”
In a similar article published in Aviation Daily (June 30, 2004), Mark Brown, Executive
Vice President for the American Automobile Association (AAA), said, “Early TSA goals
of world-class security and world-class customer service have not yet been achieved.” It
is costing travelers more than ever to fly commercially because of security taxes and “the
time spent waiting in lines.”
In 2002, there were 619 more highway fatalities in the U.S. than in 2001. Also in 2002,
total Revenue Passenger miles in commercial air travel decreased by more than one
billion miles from 2001, while total Rural and Urban highway miles increased by more
than 58 billion miles. It would be naive to think high security wait-times are the only
cause of increased highway deaths. However, it would be negligent to ignore the
increased number of auto travelers (due to air travel diversion) as a contributor to the
increase in highway fatalities.
Security can never be sacrificed for the sake of convenience. Such a scenario is
unacceptable. Consumers understand the need for safeguards against terrorism, but there
comes a point when alternative modes to air travel are more desirable. The consequences
of this shift in demand are costly. The flaw is in policy. The remedy is a change that
allows the MAA to adjust staffing levels during peak travel times.
2.0 Statement of the Problem
The TSA can no longer handle the rapidly increasing demands placed upon them by
Maryland‟s flight population to provide both security and timely service. As a result,
passengers traveling through security checkpoints face numerous problems: long lines, an
average peak wait-time of 18 minutes, damaged luggage and a lack of automated security
technologies. These factors all contribute to increased human error, a loss in security
effectiveness and travel delays with significant economic consequences, such as lost
passengers and State revenue.
2.1 Statement of the Goal
The purpose of this report is to identify alternatives to current policy in an effort to
minimize security wait-times at BWI Airport, while maintaining the highest levels of
security and promoting growth for Maryland‟s commercial aviation industry and overall
3.1 CAPPS III
CAPPS began during the 1990s by the airlines. Aware of hijacking and terrorist threats,
the airlines developed a computerized system to help identify passengers that would need
additional security screening. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provided
funding for major airlines to develop a system that would prescreen airline passengers. It
was implemented in 1998 and is still in use today by most U.S. airlines. There are only
two categories, those who need additional screening and those who do not.
Under CAPPS, airlines cross-reference their reservation systems to analyze information
from passenger itineraries and government supplied watch lists with names of known or
suspected terrorists. The airlines use criteria such as, whether a passenger is flying one-
way or paid for their ticket with cash (AP). The status is transmitted to the check-in
counter and a code is printed on the boarding pass to alert the screeners that additional
security checks are needed.
After September 11th, the Transportation Security Administration became responsible for
airline passenger screening. Its Office of National Risk Assessment has worked to
develop a CAPPS II. Like the airlines‟ program, the TSA will use computers to perform
prescreening of all airline passengers. Unlike the airlines, they will perform different
types of analysis and have access to more data by using government and commercial
databases. Congress identified eight issues that need to be of concern to TSA for the
development of their CAPPS II program. As of January 2004, TSA has failed to address
seven of the eight issues.
MAA could set up a computer database to prescreen all passengers traveling via
BWI Airport. In addition to the use of Common Use Technology Equipment
(CUTE) at check-in counters, the MAA would have access to all potential
travelers and, with the cooperation of airlines and government resources,
databases calibrated to assess risk could prescreen ticket holders. As passengers
check in, a code could be issued on each boarding pass to alert the security
screeners to a passenger with a low or medium threat risk. A passenger with a
high threat risk could be denied before ever reaching security screening.
The minimal cost should be at a moderate level, because the installation of the
CUTE system has already been budgeted and installation is progressing in an
acceptable time frame. The wait-time for most passengers would decrease
because of the prescreening feature. This would eliminate passengers with the
highest risks and would help security screeners speed low risk passengers
through. One downfall is passengers would have to give up some private
information and the sharing of databases would be a major concern for privacy
Although CAPPS III could be used for prescreening of airline travelers as a
moderate cost, this program is not recommended. Public support would be very
low when passengers are required to give personal information. There is the
potential for false positives that would deny a low-risk person a boarding pass or
subject them to a more intense scrutiny due to something such as, a passenger
having a similar name to a known terrorist.
Also, the scope of the project would not be feasible. Setting up a database for
screening all airline passengers through BWI would take a considerable amount
of time and cooperation from the airlines, the government, and privately-owned
industries. There is the question of access to the passenger database and the
databases used for the program. If any information was incorrectly entered in any
database used, problems could arise about the responsibility for correct
information and who would be liable for any mistakes. The potential for
decreasing travel wait-times is there, but more viable alternatives exist for the
MAA that decrease wait-times with less potential for libelous suits, filed by
disgruntled passengers refused boarding passes, based on mistaken identity.
3.2 Privatization of Security Screeners
The U.S. Congress has set a cap on staffing at 45,000 screeners to provide
security for every commercial airport in the country. This prevents the TSA from
increasing its workforce during times of peak travel and comes at a time when the
“TSA failed the aviation industry by not accurately forecasting increasing
demand, placing additional strains on the security-screening system,” according to
Randy Null, acting assistant administrator for the TSA‟s Office of Aviation
Operations, during the American Association of Airport Executives‟ annual
conference in June of 2004.
The airline industry has seen improvement, but remains volatile with continued
government aid offsetting high security costs. Americans are returning to the sky.
However, the increase in demand is still too unstable to warrant any increases in
ticket prices, while taxes and fees continue to take on heavy criticism from
industry, government and consumer advocacy leaders. The TSA has introduced
two programs to directly deal with minimizing security wait-times.
The Screening Partnership Program (SPP) is designed to give local airport
management an increased role in day-to-day operations of passenger screening.
Under a provision in the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA),
airports, nationwide, will be able to apply for privatization of screening operations
as of November 19, 2004. The SPP is not a cut and run program from the current
federal system, and specific guidelines have been issued by the Department of
Homeland Security to ensure security remains paramount.
In the Guidance on the Screening Partnership, the Maryland Aviation
Administration would have until December 10, 2004, to apply for the SPP. By
February 2005, the TSA would either accept or deny the MAA‟s application
based on the qualifications of the proposed screening task force. If approved, the
MAA could have its own screeners in place by the end of 2005. There is no limit
on the number of airports that can “opt-out” and the TSA maintains that qualified
applicants will be approved.
As per the Guidance, the MAA could choose to contract out screening operations
or develop its own task force. The TSA, in either case, would maintain an
advisory role to ensure federal standards are met by MAA screeners. There
would be funding from the TSA equal to the current money allotted for federal
screeners. Any remaining funds would come from the airlines, who provided
passenger screening prior to 9-11, and from the MAA.
In a pilot study conducted by the TSA, five airports put to test the idea of
privatized screening (San Francisco, Calif., Kansas City, Mo., Rochester, N.Y.,
Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Tupelo, Miss.) Passenger screening was performed with
the same numbers in staffing and screeners received equal training and pay to
TSA standards. The results of the pilot proved privatized screening is
“comparable to that of airports staffed with federal screeners,” according to the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in a June 23, 2004, news release.
In testimony to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Aviation, Thomas Blank,
Assistant Administrator for Security Policy for the TSA, said, “TSA is striving to
replicate the success at PP5 (“opt-out” pilot airports) and other airports by
empowering FSDs (Federal Security Directors) all across the country with the
tools and flexibility to manage operations at the local level.”
Blank makes the key point. Local level screening is most efficient for minimizing
security wait-times. More screeners make the difference. The key benefit is less
hassle for the customer with equally high security standards. The result of
privatization would be a more stable and increased consumer demand, more
tickets sold and more money for the State. The MAA needs the ability to set
screener levels at peak travel times.
“This choice offers the greatest degree of control, the most flexibility in human
resources management, the most collateral benefits, the most direct response to
station and equipment problems, the most effective interoperability with other
agencies and, amazingly, it will actually save the TSA money,” said Terry
Anderson, Executive Director of Tupelo (Miss.) Regional Airport.
The Screening Partnership Program is a sound fiscal investment for the MAA.
Current salaries for TSA screeners range from $23,000 to $35,000, annually. For
the purpose of this analysis, the average salary for proposed MAA screeners will
be $30,000, annually, with approximately $520,000 total, for employee benefits
and paid time off.
The total budget for the MAA screening task force would be about $9.88 million,
annually. Twenty-six (26) lanes would be optimized with four (4) screeners per
lane during three (3) shifts. This proposal gives maximum coverage for round-
the-clock screening. During off-peak times, when fewer screeners are needed,
BWI cargo could be secured, the terminal roadway could be kept clear, parking
facilities could be monitored and random checks could be performed on motor
Political feasibility for opting out is strong. Fiscal cost to the MAA is low,
considering federal, airline and State resources available. Wait-times would be
minimized and public support will reflect the MAA‟s enthusiasm and confidence
in the program and the performance of its screeners.
It is, therefore, recommended that the MAA apply for privatized screening and
develop its own screening task force. Screeners would be MAA employees with
pay and benefits equal to current TSA standards. All 26 lanes available for
passenger screening could be put to use. Customers would see the difference.
3.3 Air-Pass Security Program
The Air-Pass security program concept finds many similarities to its partner
program for the State Highway Administration‟s (SHA) E-Z Pass. The
difference, however, is that the original E-Z pass system was designed to ease
congestion along State highways. The Air-Pass security programs being thought
of have another consideration, to increase security. In 2003, the private sector and
the government security forces spent $65 billion to increase and maintain an
active intelligence on national and corporate security. The Homeland Security
Research Corp. calculated that this amount could increase to $180 billion by the
end of 2010. In fact, a study conducted on security companies by Morgan Keegan
& Co. showed an increase of 20 percent on a 13-stock index (Business Week).
Congress is currently considering several different bills meant to increase security
spending for not only airports, but other sectors as well.
Different sections of private industry and the government have different strategies
for tackling a similar problem: the necessity to find a fast, secure means for which
to keep track of individuals, both coming in, and going out of the United States.
One such program was recently contracted to Accenture LLP. by the federal
government on June 1, 2004. Accenture will be developing a database system to
keep track of when and where individuals travel both intra and inter nationally,
which will involve a new system of visas and passports (Business Week).
This program, which implements Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator
Technology (VISIT), is under direction of the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) and has consumed $380 million for 2003 and $330 million for
2004. The main goal of this program is to enhance security for U.S. citizens
while insuring the flow of immigration. The VISIT program will use biometrics
features, such as fingerprints, voice and iris scans that can be used to confirm a
particular identity, to the identify of persons traveling into and out of the U.S.
Below, is an image of a biometric device meant to capture an inkless fingerprint
from immigrants and visitors traveling into the United States:
Photo by CNN.com
The current implementation of the VISIT program requires a traveler‟s two index
fingers and digital photograph. Once entered into the VISIT system, travelers can
easily swipe their visa cards and place their index fingers onto a “fingerscan” to
process their identity. In a test pilot of the program conducted with more than
20,000 travelers, in Atlanta, Georgia, an average of 15 seconds were added to
each person‟s processing time (DHS). At the pilot, passengers were provided
with information cards to help facilitate the new program‟s procedures. By
January 5, 2004, 116 airports and 15 seaports had begun pilot testing the entry and
exiting procedures of the program. Currently at BWI Airport and certain Miami
Seaport terminals, there is a departure confirmation program using automated
kiosks. The implementation of the system, even in its test phases, has helped
DHS detain more than 500 people suspected of committing prior and current
A related alternative to the U.S. VISIT program being pursued is the Registered
Traveler Program, pioneered by the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS
system calls for frequent flyers to be able to bypass wait-lines by using a smart
card encoded with an forgery-proof, biometric data strip, similar to one used in
the VISIT program. Currently, under the conduction of the TSA, this program
began pilots at five locations in the United States, starting in July of 2004 at
Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Houston, Boston, and Washington D.C. airports. Two
of the programs began in July, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, with the other
programs starting at the end of August. The majority, Minneapolis, Los Angeles,
and Houston, of the test programs are being contracted to Unisys Corporation, and
the remaining to EDS. Each company has been contracted to run the pilot
programs initially for 180 days and $2.47 million and $1.31 million, respectively.
The Registered Traveler test program involves an invitation from the host airport
to frequent flyers of the facility. The Minneapolis pilot topped 2400 customers.
Below, is an image from the Minneapolis pilot. Up to 200 travelers make use of
the new scanners during the airport‟s busiest travel days.
Photo by Mark Zdechlik
While the enrollment during the pilot program comes free of charge to the
customers, after the pilot period, the projected enrollment fee has been estimated
to be between $50 and $100, annually. While participating in the pilot, travelers
openly volunteered extensive pieces of identification and personal data to airport
and government authorities. The information given during the pilot, including
name, address, phone number and data of birth, are used to perform background
investigations of individuals wishing to agree to try the program. In addition to
the personal data given, customers also provided a biometric imprint of their
index finger and iris, which will be used to identify customers at designated
Registered Traveler lanes.
Once at the security checkpoint, a customer must first pass the identity scan,
which involves placing the index finger on the scanner. This prompts an identity
response at a display nearby. The customer may then proceed to the primary
screening area, which involves scanning carry-on luggage with an X-ray machine
and the passenger passing through a metal detector.
Admiral David M. Stone, Acting Administrator of the Transportation Security
Administration, commented, “TSA approached this pilot with the firm idea that
security could not and would not be compromised, and we believe that this pilot
program will provide frequent travelers with the means to expedite the screening
experience without compromising security.”
During the pilot test conducted in Minneapolis, the average processing time for a
registered traveler took approximately one minute, while the regular traveler took
The Registered Traveler Program is under the coordination of the TSA. This
provides distinct methods for TSA screeners to verify traveler identity swiftly and
securely. In test cases wait-times have been reduced 80 percent for registered
travelers. However, by employing the Registered Travelers Program under the
TSA, an already thin number screeners will be stretched even more to
accommodate these new lanes. Consequently, the number of screeners for regular
traveler lanes would be thinned. This has the potential to cause longer wait-times
for those travelers who are not registered. If the Maryland Aviation
Administration chooses to opt out, the inclusion of these “Trusted Travelers”
lanes and decisions, such as how many there will be and how much the
enrollment fee to participate will be, will be left to the discretion of the State. In
addition, the MAA will have use of security databases provided by the
Department of Homeland Security and other federal security agencies.
The cost of including this program at BWI airport comes with an initial cost of
between $655,000 and $825,000, depending on how many lanes the airport
chooses the deploy. This is a relatively small cost for the large improvement
capable of being generated for passengers willing to participate in the program,
becoming a “Trusted Traveler” at BWI Airport and, at the same time, reducing
waiting times for those who chose not to participate.
4.0 Final Recommendation
The MAA is the right authority to manage screening operations at the local level.
The Screening Partnership Program unlocks the opportunity and the Registered
Traveler Program has provided an outline from which the MAA can follow to
streamline frequent and “trusted” travelers through security.
Over the next three months develop a plan for localizing passenger screening at
BWI Airport. Apply for the Screening Partnership Program and be ready to
implement upon TSA approval. After transition into the program, monitor
progress continually to ensure objectives are met. Adjust as needed to maximize
resources, minimize wait-times and ensure security is kept at the highest
These programs work to decrease security wait-times. They do not compromise
security and are sound investments for BWI Airport.
Richard L. Flanagan, Secretary of Transportation
Trent Kittleman, Deputy Secretary of Transportation
Paul Wiedefeld, Executive Director, MAA
Christine Routzahn, UMBC – MDOT Fellows Internship Coordinator
Carolyn Jasmin, MDOT - MDOT Fellows Internship Coordinator
Madonna Copper, Office Manager, MAA
Jonathan Dean, Manager, Division of Communications
Lynn Fisher, MTA - Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Administrator, Mentor
Dr. David Marcotte – Assistant Professor of Policy Sciences
Nelson Ormsby, Policy and Legislative Analyst, MAA
David Richardson, Manager, MAA, Division of Government Affairs
David Temple, Management Analyst, MAA
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