Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Co-Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) have scheduled a Full Committee Hearing on Aviation Security for Thursday, March 9, 2006, at 10:00 a.m. in room 562 of the Dirksen Building.
The hearing will focus on the physical screening of airline passengers, including issues pertaining to the Transportation Security Administration's Federal passenger screening force and the deployment of explosive detection technology.
We welcome each of the witnesses who appear before the Committee today, and thank you for your willingness to participate in this hearing.
Today represents the second in a series of hearings held by the Committee on aviation security. The first hearing was conducted on February 9th when the Committee examined two of TSA’s airline passenger non-physical pre-screening programs, Secure Flight and Registered Traveler. That hearing focused on the policy and management issues that have prevented TSA from launching those programs and using intelligence in a more integrated fashion.
The purpose of today’s hearing will be to evaluate TSA’s physical screening of airline passengers and their baggage. The hearing will focus generally on TSA’s security checkpoint screening processes, the agency’s deployment of new screening technologies, screener workforce issues, and TSA’s procurement processes.
It has been more than four years since Congress created TSA to ensure in part the viability of commercial aviation as a secure means of travel in the United States. While I commend Mr. Hawley for his tireless work over the past year, and the significant strides TSA has made towards fulfilling its security mission, the agency has experienced its share of growing pains. The agency has been criticized for inconsistent screening policies, privacy invasions at the checkpoint and in the search of baggage, ineffectiveness in the detection of explosives, changes to its carry-on prohibited items list, and excessive no-bid contracts.
The Committee wants to seek information today from the witnesses regarding ways to make passenger screening checkpoints more efficient and effective without compromising privacy. We want to seek TSA’s vision for the checkpoint of the future, and review whether existing technologies can be integrated into a single, more effective, portal that can be deployed in the short term. This hearing also will focus on ways to reduce the attrition and injury rate among the TSA screener force.
We look forward to a constructive dialogue with the witnesses today.
Witness Panel 1
Ms. Cathleen A. BerrickDirector, Homeland Security and JusticeU.S. Government Accountability Office
Mr. Gregory PrincipatoPresidentAirports Council International -- North America