The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is disputing reports the agency is considering curbing passenger screening at more than 150 small- and medium-sized airports across the US.
The reports allege a TSA working group is examining a proposal to save $115 million annually by cutting screening at airports serving aircraft with 60 or fewer seats.
TSA spokesman Michael Bilello said the proposal amounted to an “exercise from a pre-decisional budget meeting,” and denied the agency was actively considering such a move. He said similar budget exercises have taken place for years, and that TSA would have to complete impact and risk assessments before reducing service—assessments the agency reportedly has no plans to undertake.
“It’s not uncommon for government agencies to go through these budget exercises where you identify efficiencies and show the cost savings,” Bilello said. “We haven’t even gotten to the risk assessment phase … the bottom line is no decision has been made.”
Bilello also described reports criticizing the agency’s “Quiet Skies” program as “misleading,” arguing the program “does not target ordinary or normal citizens.”
“These are people who have a very unique travel pattern, in addition to other information which is intelligence-based,” Bilello said. “It’s been in place since 2010 and has robust oversight. Multiple committees have not only been briefed on it, but clearly support it, since it’s still operating.”