Adding to the call on Capitol Hill for TSA to re-evaluate its efforts to shift exit lane staffing responsibilities and costs to airports, the Massachusetts congressional delegation this week wrote to agency leadership asking for an explanation of the change and how it would impact aviation security. The letter asks TSA to respond to a number of questions, including:
What specific security conditions have changed to justify such transfer of responsibility?
Did TSA perform any analysis to justify the reason for this change? If not, why not? If yes, please provide such analysis.
Is the cost of staffing exit lanes one of the reasons precipitating this change? If yes, please include calculations on savings.
Why is TSA choosing not to view exit lane monitoring as a screening function given that armed law enforcement officers and known crew members often use the exit lane to enter what is intended to be a sterile area?
If TSA no longer has responsibility for monitoring exit lanes, how will TSA ensure that security in sterile areas is maintained? For example, how will TSA ensure that non-TSA employees are qualified to perform this important security function and properly trained?
Did TSA consult with stakeholders, including, but not limited to, airports, airlines, pilots, flight attendants, air marshals, and local law enforcement, prior to announcing this change? If not, why not? If yes, please detail the level of consultation, including dates of meetings convened and groups that participated.
Exit lane staffing also was the subject of debate and an amendment during consideration by the House Homeland Security Committee of legislation aimed at codifying and strengthening the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC).
Rep. Steve Horsford (D-Nev.) offered an amendment to the ASAC legislation aimed at bringing further attention to the exit lane issue. The amendment, which was approved unanimously, called for creation of a subcommittee that would review and make recommendations concerning TSA's exit lane policy.
AAAE, ACI-NA, A4A, and the Regional Airline Association this week sent a joint letter to Horsford that voiced support for the amendment. While helpful in highlighting the issue and potentially resulting in industry recommendations to TSA on exit lane staffing, the amendment would not prohibit TSA from requiring airports to assume those duties and expenses on Jan. 1.
The committee also approved H.R.1095, which directs TSA to transfer unclaimed money recovered at airport security checkpoints to nonprofit organizations that "provide places of rest and recuperation at airports for members of the Armed Forces and their families."