Private security contract extended at KC airport

Sunday, November 28, 2004

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The federal Transportation Security Administration has extended a private company's contract to hire security screeners at Kansas City International Airport.

The TSA's contract with FirstLine was scheduled to expire last week but was renewed for another year. Firstline was awarded the contract in 2002.

When the contract was first awarded, it was one of only five given to a private company. Airports now have the option of choosing private firms over the government, although private screeners are also under federal supervision and receive the same training that government-employed screeners do.

The TSA started the private screening program as a way to compare the effectiveness of federal and private screeners. In April, a consultant hired by the TSA concluded that the screeners at KCI were more effective than the federal screeners at similar-size airports.

The report also found no evidence that the five airports with privately employed screeners were performing below the average level of those at other airports.

At the same time, however, Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin told a Congressional subcommittee that more evidence was needed to determine whether private screeners performed as well as federal screeners.

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