October 27, 2003
POLICY ANALYST, CONSUMERS UNION,
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF PRESERVING A FEDERAL
AIRPORT SECURITY SCREENING PROGRAM
Almost two years ago, Consumers Union issued a news release in which we stated, “Protecting airline passengers is a job for federal officials, not low-bid companies with poor safety records” (Aviation Security Bill “A Win” For Consumers, November 15, 2001).
Today, as we approach the anniversary of the creation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), we still hold firm to this belief. The work of screening passengers at our nation’s major airports should continue to be the responsibility of well-trained, experienced and reliable federal employees in a single, unified security system.
The nation’s air transportation system must be, above all else, safe. As a nation, we should be clear about the importance that we place on aviation safety. We can make certain of this by ensuring that the screening of passengers and baggage at our airports remains a federal responsibility, with federal employees accountable to the public, instead of depending on companies that are open to pressure from airlines and airport authorities to water down security measures. Airport security should not be about a company’s bottom line. It should be about making sure that passengers are safe – first, last and always.
The safety and security of Americans traveling through U.S. airports should remain the responsibility of federal employees. This critical function should not again be subject to a patchwork system of contractors. Both the overall regulations and the workforce that provide security for the American people should be the permanent responsibility of the federal government.
Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, is an independent nonprofit testing, educational and information organization serving only the consumer. We are a comprehensive source of unbiased advice about products and services, personal finance, health, nutrition and other consumer concerns. Since 1936, our mission has been to test products, inform the public and protect consumers.