The Opt-Out Letter


It’s rare to see anyone in the federal government actively trying to devolve power back to any sort of state or local authority, but Rep. John Mica (R-FL), is doing exactly that.  Rep. Mica was the ranking member of the House’s Transportation Committee, and is likely to become its new chairman in a couple of months.  He’s also one of the authors of the original TSA legislation.  Mica has sent a letter to about 150 airport administrators around the country asking them to opt out of TSA’s screeners and hire private screeners instead.

I’ll post the full letter later, but two points are worth commenting on.

Under this program, TSA continues to set standards, pay all costs, and conduct performance oversight.

It’s unclear if this means that TSA has the authority to require private contractors to conduct the problematic scans, or whether those can remain up to the screeners’ discretion.  Much of the momentum for opting out won’t come so much from reducing federal bureaucracy as much as from opting out of these procedures.  It’s possible that the push to have airports opt out is a political tool designed to reduce TSA bureaucratic empire, or to create the threat of doing so, in order to push TSA to drop the procedures.

Rep. Mica also makes a couple of claims that, on the surface, make sense: that private screeners’ performance is better, and that they have been responsible for the “positive innovations” (his quotes) that TSA has adopted.  Both of these are believable, but a citation for those past studies, and examples of those positive innovations would go a long way toward building the case for an opt-out.

DIA is the fourth-busiest airport in the country; such an opt-out here would be a major development and perhaps set the pace for other airports to follow suit.

UPDATE: The letter is embedded below:

Comments are closed.