TSA allows Sanford airport to use private screeners

Orlando Sanford largest airport to participate in opt-out program

(Jim Spellman/CNN)

SANFORD, Fla. – The Transportation Security Administration will allow Orlando Sanford International Airport to opt out of using only federal agents for security screening.

TSA made the announcement Monday, which will allow the airport to go forward with changing to private security operations under federal supervision. The agency previously denied Sanford's application.

According to a release, Orlando Sanford is expected to consider two screening models, one in which a private screening services operator is contracted by TSA, or one in which Orlando Sanford itself competes for the contract with TSA and retains a private contractor to assist in the new screening model.

Rep. John Mica (R-FL), chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee worked to change the law in February by requiring TSA accept airport applications to opt for the private-federal screening model.

"TSA is a bloated bureaucracy of more than 65,000 federal workers and a track record of security failures," Mica said in a release. "The agency is top-heavy with 9,656 administrators in the field and 3,986 headquarters staff in Washington, DC making an average of $103,852 per year. Transitioning to the private-federal model at Orlando Sanford and other airports will allow TSA to focus on security and not on personnel management, and it will result in better customer service for passengers, improved security services, and more cost-effective security operations."

Sixteen airports currently successfully operate under the opt-out program, and others are interested. Mica said Orlando Sanford is the largest airport to convert to the private-federal screening model under the opt-out program.

Qualified contractors will now compete under a TSA request for proposals, according to the release. A contract will then be awarded, and the airport will transition to a public-private screening operation.