What Is The True Cost Of U.S. Airport Security?

At the time the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created on the 19th of November 2001 by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act the annual cost of airport security in the private sector in the United States was an estimated US$700,000,000 … or US$849,897,815 adjusted to 2010 dollars.

Presently the cost of “Aviation Security” within the Transportation Security Administration’s annual US$7,101,828,000 budget is US$5,042,297,880… or US$4,152,979,866 adjusted to  2001 dollars.

Not included in the US$5,042,297,880 “Aviation Security” budget is an additional US$781,201,080 for Federal Air Marshals ; US$284,073,120 for the Checkpoint Security Screening Fund; US$284,073,120 for the Aviation Security Capital Fund and another US$568,146,240 for Transportation Security Support & Intelligence.

So…the real cost of “aviation security” as provided by the TSA totals an estimated US$6,959,791,440 … or US$5,732,282,069 adjusted to 2001 dollars.

Prior to the creation of the Transportation Security Administration in 2001, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) set the security standards for airport security, which was then executed by private security firms that had been contracted by the airlines, or airports. These private security firms needed to meet FAA standards in order to provide security within the airport.  Prior to the creation of the TSA, and implementation of standardized security procedures, private security firms were expected to achieve a 95% weapons detection rate, whereas the currently the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General’s Office believes the pass-rate for the TSA is close to 75% detection of weapons crossing through airport security checkpoints.

Considering that private security firms responsible for airport security were expected to perform at a 20% higher success rate, with an annual budget of approximately 600% less than what the TSA budgets for “aviation security” presently I have to ask this … is the TSA going in the right direction?

There are many intangibles in national security, these intangibles cannot always be broken down into hard numbers … but sometimes the numbers in relation to risk-vs-reward are hard to dispute.  There must be some way to bring the costs back in line with the private sector while increasing the effectiveness of those charged with protecting airports and airline passengers within the United States.

Happy Flying!


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