Expansion of TSA PreCheck program suffers setback

TSA PreCheck

Passengers walk through the pre-check lane at Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport in 2013. The TSA has canceled plans to hire more private vendors to prescreen passengers for TSA PreCheck.

(AP Photo/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Mike DeSisti)

The Transportation Security Administration has set a goal of registering 25 million Americans for a security program that lets fliers who submit to a government background check use an expedited screening line at U.S. airports.

But the TSA has enrolled only 4 million travelers into the program — dubbed TSA PreCheck — and now it has halted plans to employ new private vendors to help register passengers for the program.

In a note to potential vendors, TSA said it was halting the expansion “in light of the increased and evolving cybersecurity risks over the past year.” 

The note suggested that TSA is worried about cyber criminals getting at the passenger information that would be used to test new vendors wanting to work with TSA to collect background information on travelers.


The agency said it plans to issue a new request for private vendors soon that will “align with [Department of Homeland Security] cybersecurity best practices.”

TSA critics have blamed the shortcomings of the PreCheck program, in part, for the long security lines that bogged down airport checkpoints earlier this spring.

TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said he expects screening lines to run smoothly because of the 13,068 new positions approved by Congress and added funding to convert about 2,000 part-time screeners to full-time employees.

He also said the agency has created a “deployment force” of 1,000 screeners that can be dispatched to any airport likely to be inundated with big crowds, especially during peak holiday seasons.


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