A few private security firms are battling for a potentially big government contract. The winning bidder would get to conduct background checks on thousands of frequent fliers who use TSA’s PreCheck program. While the Transportation Security Administration hasn’t officially started entertaining proposals yet, they are exploring the idea of putting a third party in charge of conducting background checks on passengers who apply for their expedited screening program.
The PreCheck program is part of TSA’s push to allow low-risk travelers to zip through airport checkpoints, speed up security lines, and free up agents to spot potential terrorist threats. When you use PreCheck, you no longer have to take off your shoes, belt, jacket, or laptop from its bag. The PreCheck program is now available in over 40 airports and is also being integrated into international travel.
One of the companies vying for the potential contract, Clear, uses their own private screening service at several airports around the country. Clear’s system relies on fingerprint and iris scan technology to speed passengers through security. This system also costs users an annual price of $179, instead of the price burden being put on the airlines with PreCheck.
By privatizing background checks for PreCheck, TSA hopes that they will shift the cost from the airlines to the passengers too. TSA also believes that by filtering out the low-risk passengers they can speed up security and allow agents to concentrate on identifying potential high-risk suspects. This would make the airport experience better for passengers by making it faster and safer.