Monday, February 7, 2011

Update on TSA Contractor Screening Program

You may recall a recent post where I wrote about the TSA contract screener program. I posted because many were under the wrong impression that screening from contractors is or would be different than federal screening. The post explained how airports that opt out of TSA screening are still regulated by TSA.  In a nutshell, the screening is the same.

The program has reappeared in the news again as Administrator Pistole has decided not to expand it beyond the current 16 airports. TSA is still accepting applications, but unless a clear and substantial advantage to do so emerges in the future, the requests will not be approved. The 16 airports that are currently using contractor screening will continue to operate under TSA regulation just as they have been. Those airports are:

Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS); Dawson Community Airport (GDV); Frank Wiley Field (MLS); Greater Rochester International (ROC); Havre City County Airport (HVR); Jackson Hole (JAC); Joe Foss Field (FSD); Kansas City International (MCI); Key West International Airport (EYW); L.M. Clayton Airport (OLF); Lewistown Municipal Airport (LWT); Roswell International Air Center (ROW); San Francisco International (SFO); Sidney Richland Regional (SDY); Tupelo Regional (TUP); Wokal Field (GGW)

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

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109 comments:

Andrew MacKie-Mason said...

No benefit to allowing it, or significant costs to allowing it? Basically, it sounds like TSA has just decided that it wants to maintain more authority and control over airports, even though the privately screened airports would be at least as safe, and likely employ more respectful personnel.

Ayn R. Key said...

Of course it was disallowed. Contractors can be held responsible for their misdeeds and employing them reduces the size of the agency.

If a contractor is held responsible for a molestation at the gate, that will increase the likelihood of a TSAgent being held responsible as well.

Diminished power and more checks on their power ... no wonder Pistole hates the idea.

Anonymous said...

the "authority and control" stays even if airports go private as tsa will still determine policy and procedures for the private airports and regulate them. andrew how do you determine that private4 companies will emply "more respectful personnel"?

Al Ames said...

And heaven forbid we introduce accountability into the system by actually having people be fireable if they mess up. We all know how well TSA handles the Isolated Incidents® and the Few Bad Apples® out there.

Al

RB said...

So the owners of an aiport want to provide their own screeners who will be held accountable for their actions unlike TSA screeners.

When did TSA take over privately owned airports?

Time for TSA to fade into history.

Mr. President, tear down this wall!!

Carol said...

Now sure Andrew, how you can assume they'd be at least as safe. Federal Officers have strong alleigence to TSA's security mission, where as the contract Officers have alleigence to their company, and usually how to save the most money for a company. Big difference.

Anonymous said...

CONGRESS wrote the "OPT-OUT" provision into law when they established the TSA.

Pistole should lose his job for defying a Congressional provision. He has no right.

Banish the TSA!

DJ said...

wow, this post is just begging for negative comments.. announce that you're ignoring a congressionally mandated program, and offer no reason at all.

not even an attempt to spin it, just "we don't feel like doing this any more, have a nice day".

that's all i've got to say, because you haven't offered a point to respond to!

Anonymous said...

The TSA argument for not letting airports "opt out" is the typical long-term government employee mentality that "they know best".

Should any DHS or TSA leader actually read the blogs that are posted at this site every week, they would know that a large percentage of Americans do not have any respect for TSA policies and practices. Taxpayer concerns over privacy and long-term health impacts of AIT machines go unanswered week after week. In addition, one of the arguments that the TSA has used to allow it's employees to unionize and engage in collective bargaining is to "boost morale".

If both your employees and customers are not happy, maybe it's time to take a different approach?

TSM West said...

Anon wrote

CONGRESS wrote the "OPT-OUT" provision into law when they established the TSA.

Pistole should lose his job for defying a Congressional provision. He has no right.

Banish the TSA!

February 7, 2011 6:19 PM
-----------------------------------

‘‘§ 44920. Security screening opt-out program

‘‘(b) APPROVAL OF APPLICATIONS.—The Under Secretary may
approve any application submitted under subsection (a).
------------------
What part of that says must?

Anonymous said...

This is one of those times when I'm glad that the TSA has such poor PR--it leads to them doing things as transparently self-serving as this, that only help to expose their naked power grab, no pun intended, to the public.

Joe said...

So the TSA can just tell airports they can't opt-out?

Here's a thought, allowing contractors to be regulated by the TSA introduces competition into the system and allows for better performance by security firms instead of lackadaisical service from a government owned entity.

Andy said...

Anonymous said...
andrew how do you determine that private4 companies will emply "more respectful personnel"?
[sic]
First, the TSA has set the bar pretty low when it comes to courtesy and respect for the flying public. Second, it doesn't take an MBA to figure out that contractors will provide more courteous service, since they know an airport can replace them with another contractor or the TSA. Now airports are stuck with the TSA, no matter how bad they are.

Carol said...
Now sure Andrew, how you can assume they'd be at least as safe. Federal Officers have strong alleigence to TSA's security mission, where as the contract Officers have alleigence to their company, and usually how to save the most money for a company. Big difference.


Did you read the post, Carol? Bob linked to a post about how airports that opt out of TSA screening are still regulated by TSA. If a contractor is providing poor service, the TSA should know about it. If they don't, then they're not doing their job (oversight of contractors) properly. In addition, the contractors will provide safer service for the same reason they'll provide more respectful service. They know they can be replaced by the TSA or another contractor. Contract officers know that what's best for the company is to not lose the contract, and get replaced by the TSA or another company. It seems to me that the TSA has little incentive to provide courteous and safer service now that they know airports are stuck and have no alternative to the TSA.

When you're the only game in town, why try harder?

Anonymous said...

There is such an obvious conflict of interest here that it is ridiculous. "Orwellian" doesn't begin to describe what is happening to our society. Why would the TSA want to allow competition?

The fact that more airports are applying for private screeners implies that they are not satisfied with the TSA service. Of course, that is of no concern to a bloated bureaucracy grabbing power to install soon-to-be unionized workforce that acts above the law to violate the rights of citizens with impunity.

Mike said...

You left off one part. Pistole denied the applications because there wasn't a benefit to the federal government. This is just one more example of the TSA being completly disconnected from how the federal government is supposed to work.

FriendlySkies said...

I'm not surprised, especially since this is TSA. You do your best to get rid of our personal freedoms, and then say that airports can't get private screening companies.. Why? It's not like they'll do a bad job. If they are regulated by TSA, what's the problem? Oh, right, Pistole thinks his force of 66K screening clerks are better than somebody that can be disciplined.

Pistole should lose his job.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bob said:
"...but unless a clear and substantial advantage to do so emerges in the future, the requests will not be approved."

Welll, not so fast, Bob. Representative Mica intends to investigate and likely correct Pistole's obvious misjudgement.

Really, this was a bad decision from someone (Pistole) who we've come to expect bad decisions.

Solution: Take it out of his hands!

Anonymous said...

Carol said:
"Now sure Andrew, how you can assume they'd be at least as safe. Federal Officers have strong alleigence to TSA's security mission, where as the contract Officers have alleigence to their company, and usually how to save the most money for a company. Big difference."

That's just silly, Carol. Audits have shown that private contractors operate at the same level or higher than the TSA. Don't forget the TSA's requirements to be hired as a TSO do not even include a high school diploma. Private contractors can and will have much higher standards.

This decision was a sop to the unions, pure and simple.

Anonymous said...

How do the employees at the TSA support this behavior every day? Why doesn't the TSA have this information readily available? Doesn't it tell us all we need to know...

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2011-02-09-tsa09_ST_N.htm

Anonymous said...

I realize we must have capable security at our airports but what we don't want nor need is rude, arrogant seurity employees and that is just what TSA has given us. I have been through airports with both TSA and contractor security and have found that TSA employees are usually rude where contractor employees are usually polite. It just seems once someone puts on that TSA uniform they seem to think they become some higher being and can act however they want and treat the flying public like something on the bottom of their shoe. I'm usually a bit frustrated when I have to put up with the normal hassel of air travel but once I have to tolerate the over bearing attitudes of most TSA employees I find that I no longer want to fly for any reason. TSA has to start taking complaints made by the flying public seriously and properly punish and fire their employees when they fail to treat travelers with anything other than complete courtesy. I feel sure TSA could win a lot more support if they would just INSIST their employees treat others as they would want to be treated and get rid of those that don't want to abide by that rule. Seems like such a sinple task to me.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I've always felt safest going through security at San Francisco. It wasn't until just recently I realized that they were non-TSA agents. They put their TSA counterparts to shame. Sometimes they even call you "sir."

Right now, Pistole is looking like one of the most incompetent people in the Obama administration. Next runner up? Probably his boss, the oft mocked Ms. Napolitano.

Anon_1984 said...

What a complete and utter joke this Blog is - it has been well over 24 hours with absolutely no update whatsoever.

How about you redirect some of your resources from harassing travelers to addressing their concerns here?

P-A-T-H-E-T-I-C!

Blogger Bob said...

Al Ames said... And heaven forbid we introduce accountability into the system by actually having people be fireable if they mess up. We all know how well TSA handles the Isolated Incidents® and the Few Bad Apples® out there. Al February 7, 2011 3:58 PM
---------------------------
Al – Do you really know how TSA handles disciplinary actions? Have you been part of the investigations and have you helped decide what disciplinary actions to take? Or, are you basing your assumptions on the assumptions of others who don’t really know what has happened either?
----------------------------
Anonymous said... CONGRESS wrote the "OPT-OUT" provision into law when they established the TSA. Pistole should lose his job for defying a Congressional provision. He has no right.
Banish the TSA! February 7, 2011 6:19 PM
----------------------------
You are speaking of ATSA, correct? ATSA required TSA to conduct a pilot program at up to five airports. The pilot was conducted from Nov. 2002 – Nov. 2004. ATSA allows airports to request participation in the SPP but does not require TSA to accept the applications.
---------------------------
Anon_1984 said... What a complete and utter joke this Blog is - it has been well over 24 hours with absolutely no update whatsoever. How about you redirect some of your resources from harassing travelers to addressing their concerns here? P-A-T-H-E-T-I-C!
----------------------------
Hi Anon, and thanks for your comment! There are only two of us currently moderating the blog. West was off yesterday, and I was out sick. We’re both back now. All is well.
----------------------------
As far as comments suggesting a difference in professionalism between Fed and Contract screening, they both have comparable performance and there is no measurement indicating there is a difference in customer service.

Thanks!

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

RB said...

As far as comments suggesting a difference in professionalism between Fed and Contract screening, they both have comparable performance and there is no measurement indicating there is a difference in customer service.

Thanks!

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

February 9, 2011 3:26 PM

...........
There was a report showing that Contract Screener found more test contraband than government screeners.

Why not put that report up Bob?

RB said...

As far as comments suggesting a difference in professionalism between Fed and Contract screening, they both have comparable performance and there is no measurement indicating there is a difference in customer service.

Thanks!

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

February 9, 2011 3:26 PM

.......................
"Mica said tests show that private screeners perform “statistically significantly better” than government screeners in tests of airport checkpoints."

RB said...

"Privately employed airport screeners do a better job than government airport screeners, according to a recent U.S. government report, prompting a key lawmaker to call for a return to private airport screeners and other changes to the nation's aviation security system.

"Over the last three-and-a-half years we have spent billions of dollars creating a Soviet-style, centralized bureaucracy that has resulted in great inefficiencies and inflexibility with little improvement in screener effectiveness," said Rep. John Mica (R-FL), chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Aviation. Mica was a lead author of the aviation security legislation approved by Congress after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

"This money could have been much better spent on better screening and other security technology," Mica said.


$4 Billion Wasted

Mica's April 19 statement came in response to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, and other reports, showing most of the more than $4 billion the federal government has spent on improving transportation security since the September 11 attacks has been a waste. Security has improved little, if at all."

RB said...

"The airport's director, Mark VanLoh, is expecting to be busy this winter: "I will be giving a lot of tours in the next few months from airports all over the country coming to Kansas City to check us out."

Using private contractors does make a difference, VanLoh says.

"In my opinion, these contract employees -- they're not federal employees; they're not guaranteed a job for life," he says. "If they don't meet the performance goals or maybe they're consistently rude, or maybe they miss objects that go through the machine, they are terminated. I can't remember how easy that would be to do with a federal employee. I don't think it is.""

RB said...

"But Republican Rep. John Mica of Florida, the new chairman of the House Transportation Committee, maintains that the private contract screeners are better. Last November, before he even took the reins at the committee, he sent letters to some 200 airports, urging them to consider converting from TSA screeners to a private screening program.

Mica's office did not respond to requests for an interview. But it in a clip posted on his website, Mica cited a Government Accountability Office report about private screeners.

"The private screening under federal supervision works and performs statistically significantly better, so our main purpose here is in getting better screening and better performance, not to mention that we can get better cost for the taxpayers," he said.

A Fragmented System?

Mica says the TSA has become, in his words, an unwieldy bureaucracy with 67,000 employees -- something, he said, that was never envisioned."

RB said...

Al – Do you really know how TSA handles disciplinary actions? Have you been part of the investigations and have you helped decide what disciplinary actions to take? Or, are you basing your assumptions on the assumptions of others who don’t really know what has happened either?
.......................
We do know how TSA disciplines its employees. Take the Breast Milk Lady incident where TSA employees held the lady hostage for an extended time.

Discipline taken? Not hardly, TSA decides "Proper Procedure was Followed."

Or take the incident where Phil was denied screening because he was recording the screening experience and was in compliance with TSA rules as you told us here Bop. Were the TSA employees disciplined for reporting false charges against Phil? Not hardly.

Just two examples of TSA not using proper discipline against TSA employees.

Or

Al Ames said...

Bob: "Al – Do you really know how TSA handles disciplinary actions? Have you been part of the investigations and have you helped decide what disciplinary actions to take? Or, are you basing your assumptions on the assumptions of others who don’t really know what has happened either?"

I'm not convinced TSA handles disciplinary actions at all. RB already cited a couple of examples. The first one that popped into my mind was Alvin Crabtree at DEN. The screener can bring a loaded firearm to work and still keep his job, where any of us would have been arrested.

Given that you continuously defend these Bad Apples® by saying they followed proper procedure, state that it was the traveler's fault that something happened, and see front line supervisors backing up belligerent screeners, you'll have to pardon my skepticism. We see a lot of these people STILL at the checkpoints. It's been very rare when either I or a associates have complained about bad treatment that TSA actually took it seriously.

The only way we see TSA maybe doing something is when something makes national news and TSA is forced to deal with something. And even then, it will never admit fault.

Considering I work in federal sectors, and have worked as both a government employee and a contractor, I CAN tell you that contractors are held accountable where many federal employees aren't. I don't see much discipline happening where I've worked, and considering those agencies are thought of a lot more than TSA, I find it hard to believe that anything serious is happening at a less than honest TSA.

Why don't you TELL us what kind of accountability exists within TSA? Because as far as the public can see, there isn't any.

Al

Anon_1984 said...

Blogger Bob, thank you for your prompt response to my criticism.

"Hi Anon, and thanks for your comment! There are only two of us currently moderating the blog. West was off yesterday, and I was out sick. We’re both back now. All is well."

That's great, but Bob, seriously - is this blog some kind of extra-curricular activity club at the TSA, like the Chess Club?

Or is this a serious attempt by the US Government to engage their citizens (and foreign visitors such as myself) as to why we have to undergo the INDIGNITIES and PETTY VINDICTIVENESS of the the TSA as a whole?

Because from where I sit, it looks like you and West fighting over the keyboard in the break room, and that's beyond unacceptable.

Jim Huggins said...

Blogger Bob writes: Do you really know how TSA handles disciplinary actions? Have you been part of the investigations and have you helped decide what disciplinary actions to take?

Of course we don't know how TSA handles disciplinary actions ... because TSA won't tell us. Every time we ask, we're told that federal law forbids discussing disciplinary action taken against TSOs. Care to educate us on this topic?

Anonymous said...

Your job is done so poorly you really better not let anyone else do it - people might notice.

Speaking about poor jobs, how about updating your failure rate stats? You said they used to be 70%, and then refused to give the current rates. You also notably did not mention they were any better...

Anonymous said...

"Of course we don't know how TSA handles disciplinary actions ... because TSA won't tell us. Every time we ask, we're told that federal law forbids discussing disciplinary action taken against TSOs. Care to educate us on this topic?"

Better yet, Bob, care to cite the Federal Law? A quick google search shows dozens of violations of your "law."

Anonymous said...

Bob said:
"As far as comments suggesting a difference in professionalism between Fed and Contract screening, they both have comparable performance and there is no measurement indicating there is a difference in customer service."

We know the GAO report said contract screeners performed as well or better for finding contraband. Can you cite the report that even measured customer service, Bob?

Anonymous said...

joe said:
"Here's a thought, allowing contractors to be regulated by the TSA introduces competition into the system and allows for better performance by security firms instead of lackadaisical service from a government owned entity."

already does, 16 airports nationwide.

Anonymous said...

rb i think you should investigate sen. mica and see who his largest lobbiests and supporters are. im guessing that one of them is the largest private sector security firms in the country which is in his distrcit. im sure that it would amaze alot of people that the only reason why he is all for getting rid of tsa is so that it will greatly benefit one of his largest supporters.

Earl Pitts said...

@Anon: "Better yet, Bob, care to cite the Federal Law? A quick google search shows dozens of violations of your "law.""

I'm sure Francine could Google something up that might work.

Earl

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bob said:
"You are speaking of ATSA, correct? ATSA required TSA to conduct a pilot program at up to five airports. The pilot was conducted from Nov. 2002 – Nov. 2004. ATSA allows airports to request participation in the SPP but does not require TSA to accept the applications."

You're confused, Bob. While the pilot program was, in fact, chartered by legislation, it is independent of the opt-out provision. TSA doesn't have to accept SPP applications because Congress assumed that the TSA would act in good faith. The TSA has not and that will be corrected by legislation. The TSA should be no larger than probably 1000 people. Time to get the weed whacker out and reduce Federal waste.

Anonymous said...

Please have a look at these blogs made by contract officers:

http://securityfirstsfo.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

"As far as comments suggesting a difference in professionalism between Fed and Contract screening, they both have comparable performance and there is no measurement indicating there is a difference in customer service."

So the contracted screeners also miss 70% of test objects?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"rb i think you should investigate sen. mica and see who his largest lobbiests and supporters are. im guessing that one of them is the largest private sector security firms in the country which is in his distrcit. im sure that it would amaze alot of people that the only reason why he is all for getting rid of tsa is so that it will greatly benefit one of his largest supporters."

Wow, who knew John Mica is now in the Senate? Care to cite which company is in "Sen" Mica's district and that it's the ONLY reason he's for reforming the TSA? Of the SPP airports, how many are run by this company?

Frankly, I don't care - if it strangles the growth of the TSA, I'm for it.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bob said...
Al Ames said... And heaven forbid we introduce accountability into the system by actually having people be fireable if they mess up. We all know how well TSA handles the Isolated Incidents® and the Few Bad Apples® out there. Al February 7, 2011 3:58 PM
---------------------------
Al – Do you really know how TSA handles disciplinary actions? Have you been part of the investigations and have you helped decide what disciplinary actions to take? Or, are you basing your assumptions on the assumptions of others who don’t really know what has happened either?
******************
Every time the TSA has taken action against an employee you have repeatedly stated that you can not reveal or discuss the results due to federal law that protects the employee from disclosure. You can't even tell us what the procedure is because that is in violation of TSA policy.

We have no assurance that any disciplinary action is taken for gross violations because of statements that TSO's were acting within TSA procedures. At best they appear to receive "retraining".

Until the TSA can provide transparency into how it handles abuse of policy and passengers in an open and transparent manner your above statement is nothing more than bluster.

BillyC said...

Blogger Bob wants us to trust that TSA actually disciplines "Bad Apples".

Trust is a two way street, the fact that everything you guys do and your whole system of "the incident was investigated" is super secret information the American people can have no trust in you.

Your organization does terrible things to innocent American people everyday under the guise of "safety". On top of that you keep everything hidden from us and want us to trust that the TSA actually cares about us and acts in our best interest. That is a very hard sell Bob.

Honest question... why do you think the majority of your blog comments are negative along with the general perception of TSA.

After all you tell us all the time that the number of passengers unhappy with current procedures is a small percent.

RB said...

rb i think you should investigate sen. mica and see who his largest lobbiests and supporters are. im guessing that one of them is the largest private sector security firms in the country which is in his distrcit. im sure that it would amaze alot of people that the only reason why he is all for getting rid of tsa is so that it will greatly benefit one of his largest supporters.

February 10, 2011 8:07 PM

...........
I will cheer Mica on if it gets rid of the TSA.

Why do we need this?

http://thedailypatdown.com/post/2469749319

RB said...

Here is why we need Contract Screeners!

http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2011/02/08/stay-classy-tsa/


"He directed me through the nearby metal detector (the one that would have been good enough if I'd just chosen another line) and motioned for me to wait for a pat-down agent: "Female opt-out!" A female agent led me to a table where she set my bags and then skeptically asked if I knew what the pat down involved. Yes, indeedy (thanks, Jeff Goldberg!) "Do you want to do this somewhere private?" No, thank you. The agent calmly explained what she was going to do before she performed each part of the procedure, and very briskly but thoroughly went through the pat-down. The whole thing was over in a matter of minutes and was a completely professional experience.

Or it was, until a male TSA agent walked behind us and hollered: "Hey, I thought she was mine! I was gonna do her!""

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Please have a look at these blogs made by contract officers:

http://securityfirstsfo.blogspot.com/

February 11, 2011 12:42 AM

..............
If the Contract Screeners are dissatisfied with their jobs nothing is keeping them from going elsewhere. Same goes to TSA employees. If you don't like it move on.

Anonymous said...

I saw on USAJOBS that the TSA is looking to fill "many" vacancies for TSA screeners at the Barrow, AK airport.

TSA is offering a 25% bonus for anyone willing to take the job.

Only 1 major airline flies into Barrow: Alaska Airlines and those flights only go to Fairbanks and Anchorage. Why not contract out the screening at Barrow then, if you really want to apply your TSA magic to the situation, re-screen everyone in Fairbanks or Achorage?

Of all the inefficiencies I have heard of from the federal government, maintaining a workforce of federal employees as screeners in one of the country's most remote airports takes the cake.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm

My earlier comment regarding the how the TSA would react to the

"Hey, I thought she was mine! I was gonna do her!""

comment hit too close to home for Bob to approve.

Thanks for proving my point.

TSM West said...

Anon said
Of all the inefficiencies I have heard of from the federal government, maintaining a workforce of federal employees as screeners in one of the country's most remote airports takes the cake.

February 11, 2011 6:07 PM
------------------------
Another Security expert heard from

Anonymous said...

"Hey, I thought she was mine! I was gonna do her!""

Another security expert heard from.

While the silence from the upper levels of the TSA regarding this incident is deafening.

DJ said...

"I saw on USAJOBS that the TSA is looking to fill "many" vacancies for TSA screeners at the Barrow, AK airport."

Administrator Pistole testified before a congressional subcommittee that one of the primary reasons to avoid privatizing screening was to allow him to redistribute screeners as necessary. Why doesn't he just redistribute some screeners to Barrow?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

rb i think you should investigate sen. mica and see who his largest lobbiests and supporters are. im guessing that one of them is the largest private sector security firms in the country which is in his distrcit. im sure that it would amaze alot of people that the only reason why he is all for getting rid of tsa is so that it will greatly benefit one of his largest supporters.

---------------------------------

Hey Anon, John Mica is a Representative, not a Senator.

Also, you guessed wrong. He gets a lot of money from the airline industry, like airline pilots. I think its safe to say he is acting in their best interests, not TSA contractors:

OpenSecrets.org

Anonymous said...

Anon said
Hey Anon, John Mica is a Representative, not a Senator.

Also, you guessed wrong. He gets a lot of money from the airline industry, like airline pilots. I think its safe to say he is acting in their best interests, not TSA contractors:

OpenSecrets.org

February 12, 2011 5:06 PM
-------------------------------
Check into his wifes holdings. I think you might be suprised.

kimm said...

What good is it to have an airport "opt out" anyway, when the rules will still be the same?

How about some TSA "big wigs" going through security theatre as handicapped passengers and see how they feel about the treatment we get just because we may be in a brace, have a wheelchair or in a cast. Then let them come back and tell us how "ok" it was and how we "shouldn't have a problem" with it.

I HAVE to fly, unfortunatly in a few weeks, and if I'm humiliated again, or seperated from my things again, I'm ready for a fight.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"Please have a look at these blogs made by contract officers:

http://securityfirstsfo.blogspot.com/"

Odd. I was just able to post to this blog and I am not an employee of Covenant Security. This doesn't smell quite right.

Anonymous said...

rb said:
"If the Contract Screeners are dissatisfied with their jobs nothing is keeping them from going elsewhere. Same goes to TSA employees. If you don't like it move on."

so contract screeners are unheppy to now you have to shift what you said about them being better to "let them get a different job". lets face it this is a no-win, thankless job PERIOD! it doesnt matter if your govt or private the screeners get no respect.
oh and pardon me for calling rep. mica a senator...

Anonymous said...

again sorry for my utter stupidity when calling rep mica a senator. can you tell me which one is less corrupt? its good to know that the airlines are lining his pockets, along with the secrutiy firms.
i want the govt in charge of security and to spend as much money as it takes to keep me and my families safe. private firms will put their pocketbooks ahead of safety. they will put out the least amount of money possible to meet standards so that they can keep their profits in order.

Steve said...

Contractor airport, I tell them I have something that will set off alarms and ask for body scan line. They send me over there. TSA airport they tell me its ok, don't worry about it. I go through and set off an alarm and have to under go the free touch.... That's the difference Bob!

Anonymous said...

Anon Said "That's just silly, Carol. Audits have shown that private contractors operate at the same level or higher than the TSA. Don't forget the TSA's requirements to be hired as a TSO do not even include a high school diploma. Private contractors can and will have much higher standards."

May I suggest you read the law? Private companies are required to meet the same language, ability, agility and education standards as the federal security officers, which includes a high school diploma.

Don't bash the TSA for the standards, your Congress legislated them.

Anonymous said...

When you're the only game in town, why try harder?

February 8, 2011 3:08 AM

I thought that business motto only applied if you were interested in quarterly profits.

Anon_1984 said...

"Another Security expert heard from", opines TSM West.

You would do the TSA great credit, TSM West, if you refrained from sarcastic comments directed at those of us who actually take the time to engage the TSA.

Grow up - you are representing a government agency, not yourself.

Anonymous said...

It just keeps getting better with the TSA...Who is watching the TSA while American taxpayers are distracted with radiation emitting machines and/or "pat-downs"?

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/14/us-airport-bribes-idUSTRE71D72V20110214

Anonymous said...

Al – Do you really know how TSA handles disciplinary actions? Have you been part of the investigations and have you helped decide what disciplinary actions to take? Or, are you basing your assumptions on the assumptions of others who don’t really know what has happened either?

*******
So Bob, when do you plan to tell us how the TSA handles its investigations and disciplinary actions? This way we won't have to judge them based on our assumptions.

Danger Boy said...

Sorry I'm late to the party here, but while you guys say the screening will be the same, it is my opinion that the attitudes of the screeners will be far better. Accountability breeds professionalism and accuracy.

Anonymous said...

I think that private contractors would be less likely to be doing things such as these http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1357012/TSA-comes-employees-admit-repeatedly-stealing-money-passengers.html

This change of mind is not only illogical, but it goes against the regulations written when the TSA was created.

Anonymous said...

Be vigilant, people. While the TSA may not be able to secure you, they have been known to change the posession of your property frequently. Whether the guards are private or federal, they are known to separate you from your property and take anything valuable. The latest is at JFK airport. By their own admission they can steal many thousands of dollars.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
rb said:
"If the Contract Screeners are dissatisfied with their jobs nothing is keeping them from going elsewhere. Same goes to TSA employees. If you don't like it move on."

so contract screeners are unheppy to now you have to shift what you said about them being better to "let them get a different job". lets face it this is a no-win, thankless job PERIOD! it doesnt matter if your govt or private the screeners get no respect.
oh and pardon me for calling rep. mica a senator...

February 13, 2011 8:08 PM

....................
I never changed my opinion that contract screeners are better than government screeners. That point is proven and clear.

So I ahven't shifted anything.

What I said clearly is if a screener, contract, government, or otherwise, is unhappy with their work they are free to find other employement. These people are not slaves held in captivity. They have free choice to do whatever kind of work they wish.

If a airport screener thinks their job is a "no-win, thankless job PERIOD" then they really should find other work. We will all be happier that they do.

Anonymous said...

Why no comment on this stealing?

http://consumerist.com/2011/02/tsa-screeners-at-jfk-admit-to-stealing-160k-from-passengers.html

Ayn R. Key said...

Blogger Bob wrote...
Al – Do you really know how TSA handles disciplinary actions? Have you been part of the investigations and have you helped decide what disciplinary actions to take? Or, are you basing your assumptions on the assumptions of others who don’t really know what has happened either?

Excellent point. Perhaps you should write an article about disciplinary procedure at the TSA. You can do so without mentioning specifics that violate the Privacy Act, so instead of saying "This TSO received this discipline for this act" you can write "the policy is to discipline this act with this punishment." You can also include commentary about what is the response when the front line agents make up rules that go against the official procedure - a valuable service considering how many complaints received here are about that.

RB said...

Does Oakland have contract screeners?

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig11/theroux-m2.1.1.html

"Once “cleared,” my stepson and I went to the boarding area, then boarded our flight and settled down in our seats near the rear of the plane. Ten minutes prior to take-off, a blue-uniformed TSA Supervisor, accompanied by two men wearing brown uniforms (21st-century Brownshirts?), and a man in a plain suit came down the aisle and told my stepson he had to go with them. I explained that he had simply been trying to provide loving support as I resisted being treated as a criminal, and outlined the urgency of our trip. The plain-suited official told the TSA Supervisor that all they needed was name and flight information, so I handed him our boarding passes, bearing both. The TSA Supervisor officiously insisted we had to leave the plane with him. With take-off time growing ever closer, we accompanied the four agents to the jetway, where a large, second plain-suited man and an airport employee also waited. Both left as I launched into a protest of the proceedings.

The four men who had boarded the plane encircled us on the jetway just outside the plane. The plain-suited official reiterated that all they needed was name and flight information – which they had in hand – but the TSA Supervisor insisted he needed our driver’s licenses. As he recorded our information from these on his clipboarded form, I recorded the names of the officials present from their ID badges: the blue-uniformed TSA Supervisor Darrel Robinson and plain-clothed Supervisory Transportation Security Officer Michael Simmons.

After Supervisor Robinson had returned our drivers licenses, I asked if we were free to reboard, to which he gruffly replied “In a minute.” After a few more moments, we were “released,” and reboarded the plane without further ado. As I later learned, this constitutes being under arrest, and I guess time will tell to what extent I now have a “record,” since I was advised of nothing, provided no information as to why we had been summarily ordered off of our flight, or to what use our identification information was going to be made."

Comments Bob?

Anonymous said...

"After Supervisor Robinson had returned our drivers licenses, I asked if we were free to reboard, to which he gruffly replied “In a minute.” After a few more moments, we were “released,” and reboarded the plane without further ado. As I later learned, this constitutes being under arrest, and I guess time will tell to what extent I now have a “record,” since I was advised of nothing, provided no information as to why we had been summarily ordered off of our flight, or to what use our identification information was going to be made."

To whomever was the victim of this unprofessional behavior, you were most certainly NOT under arrest and absolutely do not have an arrest record as a result of this.

This might, however, have been a kidnapping if you were unlawfully made to accompany the "officers" against your will. Was there a law enforcement officer in attendance?

This would be an awesome case to take before a jury (leading because of the semi-hostile nature of the witness):

Attorney: "So, TSO, you needed to know names and flight numbers, correct?"

TSO: "Yes."

Attorney: "Yet you knew who they were and what airplane to find them on, did you not?"

TSO: "uhhhhhh...."

Attorney: "Why did you need driver's licenses?"

TSO: "To verify their identity."

Attorney: "Was their identity not checked at security?"

TSO: "uhhhhhhhhh....."

This would be a fun one to track down and take on for sport.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"May I suggest you read the law? Private companies are required to meet the same language, ability, agility and education standards as the federal security officers, which includes a high school diploma."

Wrong.

There is NO requirement for a high school diploma to be a TSO. From USAjobs.com (link at the bottom of this post) :

"Have a high school diploma, GED or equivalent; OR

Have at least one year of full-time work experience in security
work, aviation screener work, or X-ray technician work."

Please verify your facts before you post.

http://jobview.usajobs.gov/GetJob.aspx?JobID=96287936&JobTitle=Transportation+Security+Officer+(TSO)&q=TSA&where=&brd=3876&vw=b&FedEmp=N&FedPub=Y&x=0&y=0&AVSDM=2011-02-02+12%3a04%3a00#qualifications

Anonymous said...

Anonymous tried to say:
"again sorry for my utter stupidity when calling rep mica a senator. can you tell me which one is less corrupt?"

Which one of what set?



"i want the govt in charge of security and to spend as much money as it takes to keep me and my families safe. "

Me, too. The problem is that we're spending lots of money and not getting safety in return.

BTW, how many families do you have?

"private firms will put their pocketbooks ahead of safety. they will put out the least amount of money possible to meet standards so that they can keep their profits in order."

That has not been the experience of the airports who have used private screeners.

What metric does the government use to compel efficiency?

RB said...

I'm curious why Administrator Pistole finds Contractor screening objectionable.

Is it not true that Contract Screeners have to screen exactly like government screeners?

Is it not true that Contract screeners actually save the taxpayers of this country a considerable amount of money?

Is it not true that employees of Contract screeners can more easily be discipline in comparison to government screeners?

Given the continued rampant criminal element infesting TSA I don't see how anyone could object to Contract screeners unless someone in TSA is perhaps getting some sort of reward for taking that position.

So what is really going on at TSA?

GSOLTSO said...

Anon 1984 sez – “Blogger Bob, thank you for your prompt response to my criticism. "Hi Anon, and thanks for your comment! There are only two of us currently moderating the blog. West was off yesterday, and I was out sick. We’re both back now. All is well." That's great, but Bob, seriously - is this blog some kind of extra-curricular activity club at the TSA, like the Chess Club? Or is this a serious attempt by the US Government to engage their citizens (and foreign visitors such as myself) as to why we have to undergo the INDIGNITIES and PETTY VINDICTIVENESS of the the TSA as a whole? Because from where I sit, it looks like you and West fighting over the keyboard in the break room, and that's beyond unacceptable.”

First, it would be hard to fight over a keyboard in the break room since we are not at the same location. Second, We work hard to give the best information we can to the public, many times we are limited in what we can disclose for several different reasons. Third, we have other responsibilities for the organization that we have to attend to, so sometimes we are a bit behind on updating the comments that come in. If you can convince my boss to assign me to nothing but the blog, then I am certain that along with Bob, we would be able to run a 24/7 operation that updated within the hour – oh, uh, good luck on selling that for me . Fourth, this is a pretty good example of how a .gov blog can help the organization. We post comments that meet the criteria whether they are positive, negative or neutral and if you cruise through the comments here, you can see just that.

West TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

''We post comments that meet the criteria whether they are positive, negative or neutral and if you cruise through the comments here, you can see just that.''

Not true,

I've had posts that met the criteria disallowed, and I've seen posts by you and Bob that violate the criteria allowed.

RB said...

We post comments that meet the criteria whether they are positive, negative or neutral and if you cruise through the comments here, you can see just that.

West TSA Blog Team

February 17, 2011 1:17 PM

......................
I posted a comment yesterday that along with asking about Contract screeners included a link and part of a story about TSA employees who have been accused of stealing from the public.

That comment was not posted.

That comment did not challenge the posting guidelines, which by the way are illegal since the government cannot engage in censorship and violate the First Amendment.

That comment did not contain any abusive, foul, or any objectionable language of any kind.

Any claim that TSA Bloggers are following the stated posting guidelines is just another TSA lie!

Anonymous said...

No benefit?

The ability for airports to hire people who don't STEAL from passengers (or commit a whole slew of other crimes against them) sounds awfully beneficial to me!

Anonymous said...

Funny how Mica never mentions the cheating on covert tests done by contract screeners in San Francisco...

http://articles.sfgate.com/2005-02-22/news/17360980_1_airport-security-nico-melendez-covenant-aviation-security

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"i want the govt in charge of security and to spend as much money as it takes to keep me and my families safe. private firms will put their pocketbooks ahead of safety."

Yes, that's why we all drive cars built by the government, work in buildings built by the government, live in houses built by the government. NOT. Seriously, where does this kind of logic come from.

"they will put out the least amount of money possible to meet standards so that they can keep their profits in order."

Then let me ask the question: How much money should we spend in excess of meeting standards? Shouldn't we spend everything what we need to in order to meet standards and not a dime more?

Anonymous said...

RB said:
"I'm curious why Administrator Pistole finds Contractor screening objectionable.

[...]

So what is really going on at TSA?"

The issue is power. John Pistole and his ilk are proponents of big government. The larger his organization, the more power he wields or so he thinks.

Like most power-hungry bureaucrats, he must be stopped where it counts: Cut off the money. Congress will re-institute the SPP and likely eliminate or vastly curtail the discretion of the Administrator of the TSA.

Anonymous said...

rb said:
"If a airport screener thinks their job is a "no-win, thankless job PERIOD" then they really should find other work. We will all be happier that they do."

just looking at the way that you interact with the tsa people on here i think what i say is clear its a no win situation no matter what level of tsa you work for. even the bloggers are attacked hourly on here. so where is the job satisfaction in that? or being on the "front lines" aka screeners who if they do their jobs i.e. looking in people's bags, taking away prohibited items, or touching people they get no respect from the majority of passengers. 60 minutes did a report on the tsa a couple years ago, you should take a look at it to see what it says. its natural for a person to get upset if the tsa wants to do their job because they are invading our space either in our property or person. let them do their jobs follow what is posted and get on with your day. i often wonder what your real goal is on here. as stated previously start fixing the top end of the government and see how lowly agencies like dhs change.

Anonymous said...

anon said:
"No benefit?

The ability for airports to hire people who don't STEAL from passengers (or commit a whole slew of other crimes against them) sounds awfully beneficial to me!"

yes id like to see no police officer whom is paid to enforce and abide by laws not steal as well. o thats right there arent any unlawful law enforcement officers out there...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"even the bloggers are attacked hourly on here. so where is the job satisfaction in that?"

My guess is the paycheck is satisfaction enough. Otherwise why would they stay in this job.

"60 minutes did a report on the tsa a couple years ago, you should take a look at it to see what it says. its natural for a person to get upset if the tsa wants to do their job because they are invading our space either in our property or person."

yeah i saw that too. The screeners they had on seemed ok. But if all passengers are treated as a potential terrorist because terrorists do exist. Why is it not natural to assume that all screeners are potential "bad apples" because they too do exists. It is the same logic the TSA uses. If that logic is flawed then why does the TSA use it? If that logic is justified then why shouldn't it be applied across the board?

"let them do their jobs follow what is posted and get on with your day."

How can you follow what is posted when it might change when you get to the cp based on how the TSO may interpret the posted rules differently than I?

"i often wonder what your real goal is on here."

To me it seems like his goal is to get answers to legitimate questions. But with only 2 ppl moderating this blog and only a tiny fraction of the post actually being answered......I ask myself what is the true goal of this blog?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"even the bloggers are attacked hourly on here. so where is the job satisfaction in that? "

I strongly suspect that if the TSA bloggers were more accurate, people would be less critical. Face it, the bloggers here attempt to spin issues to the TSA's benefit and they do it poorly.

You reap what you sow.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"Funny how Mica never mentions the cheating on covert tests done by contract screeners in San Francisco...

http://articles.sfgate.com/2005-02-22/news/17360980_1_airport-security-nico-melendez-covenant-aviation-security"

This doesn't ring true. Can you explain how Covenant cheated? The article makes the claim that the decoys were tracked via CCTV but how (assuming it even happened) did they know who the decoys were?

Personally, it looks like the act of a disgruntled prior employee.

Anonymous said...

WOW!!

Undercover TA agent slips gun past new body scanners again and again.

Never caught! 100% successful in fooling TSA's new scanners

Feel safe now? Security theater put on by Cherthoff who is now linked to the company who earned billions from govt.

RB said...

Posted by another Anon.


" i often wonder what your real goal is on here. as stated previously start fixing the top end of the government and see how lowly agencies like dhs change.

February 18, 2011 2:16 PM"

My goal is to hold government accountable for its actions. Nothing more.

As evidenced by actions and words here on the TSA blog it is clear that TSA employees could care less about the Constitution they took an Oath to Defend and are not good representatives of the government.

When TSA starts working within the constaints of the United States Constitution, a document that limits government not the people, then I will give TSA employees credit for the job they are doing.

Until that time I will continue asking questions and pointing out their illegal acts.

Anonymous said...

I'm in shock...Why is it that airport workers, i.e. baggage handlers, fuelers, etc. don't have to pass through the same screenings that passangers have to? Isn't it more likely for some nut to infiltrate there on the tarmak?

Anonymous said...

How many contract screening employees have ever been caught stealing from carry-on baggage (Arato) or checked baggage (Pepper) or trying to turn a minor into a sex slave (Bennett)?

It would be interesting to compare the statistics on criminals within each type of organization.

I'd bet the TSA has far higher percentages.

Anonymous said...

Why we need contract screeners!


http://www.elliott.org/blog/why-does-everyone-hate-the-tsa-lets-count-the-reasons/

"My boss flies quite a bit and he has an amazing ability to remember faces. If he sees a TSA agent come in we turn our backs and completely ignore them, and tell them to leave.

Their kind aren’t welcomed in our establishment.

A large majority of our customers — over 90 percent — agree with our stance and stand by our decision.

We even have the police on our side and they have helped us escort TSA agents out of our cafe. Until TSA agents start treating us with the respect and dignity that we deserve, then things will change for them in the private sector.

Anonymous said...

i want the govt in charge of security and to spend as much money as it takes to keep me and my families safe. private firms will put their pocketbooks ahead of safety. they will put out the least amount of money possible to meet standards so that they can keep their profits in order.

February 13, 2011 8:14 PM

^^this^^

You cannot provide security for profit. I dont care what you think about the current set up. It cant be done with the interest of making money.

notmy said...

In other words the flying public will still be held hostage to the worst run and most inept government agency ever created. Even if an airport would like to have a superficially competent security team in place they will be prevented from doing so.

"but unless a clear and substantial advantage to do so emerges in the future, the requests will not be approved"

I love this. The clear and substantial advantage that a non-TSA team would have is that they wouldn't be the TSA. Yet the TSA has to approve any request, so they get carte blanche approval to protect their turf at the expense of the taxpayer.
Maybe you guys aren't as dumb as I've always though you are.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting post. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous sadi:

"You cannot provide security for profit. I dont care what you think about the current set up. It cant be done with the interest of making money."

Why? Airplanes are made for safe and made for profit. Cars, too. Highways are engineered by commercial civil engineering firms. Houses built by commercial builders. In these cases, it is the companys' best interest to produce safe, efficient products. What's forcing the government to do the same?

Why is security any different?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I'm in shock...Why is it that airport workers, i.e. baggage handlers, fuelers, etc. don't have to pass through the same screenings that passangers have to? Isn't it more likely for some nut to infiltrate there on the tarmak?

February 21, 2011 10:39 AM

..............

TSA is not interested in real security just "Security Theater"!

TSM said...

posted:
" Anonymous said...
Why we need contract screeners!


http://www.elliott.org/blog/why-does-everyone-hate-the-tsa-lets-count-the-reasons/

"My boss flies quite a bit and he has an amazing ability to remember faces. If he sees a TSA agent come in we turn our backs and completely ignore them, and tell them to leave.

Their kind aren’t welcomed in our establishment.

A large majority of our customers — over 90 percent — agree with our stance and stand by our decision.

We even have the police on our side and they have helped us escort TSA agents out of our cafe. Until TSA agents start treating us with the respect and dignity that we deserve, then things will change for them in the private sector.

February 21, 2011 11:34 AM

------------------------------
Did you actually read the entire article? (maybe you saw an excerpted version as I did until I did some digging)

There is no corroboration on this.
The cafe owner hasn't come forward. No one knows where this cafe is. No one else in any of the comments has reported ever seeing this place and no TSA officer in the area has stated that they have had this occur.

More likely a fictitious story some Blogger made up.

But hey, it's on the internet so it must be true!

Vidiot said...

Bob or West,

Is there any TSA comment on this YouTube video?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1B3AubsTBo&NR=1

Specifically, why does TSA search people on trains? And why do they search them when they're getting off the train and attempting to exit the station, and not before boarding? What security function does that fulfill?

Anonymous said...

''But hey, it's on the internet so it must be true!''

You mean like all of the posts by Bob?

Anonymous said...

You just have to wonder about moderators who delete a comment about blatant public relations and security issues, while a comment that attacks the TSA without mentioning any specific problems is posted.

DG said...

@RB I entirely agree. The TSA claims to be "the last line of defense" against terrorists, but it always comes down to the passenger defending themselves. Not the government. Look at the shoe bomber, underwear bomber and even the Arizona shooter. Regular people stopped them. Not the "authorities", as they like to call themselves.

Anonymous said...

TSM said:
"There is no corroboration on this.
The cafe owner hasn't come forward."

Come forward to whom? The TSA? You must be joking.

"No one knows where this cafe is."

No one knows? You've asked everyone?

"No one else in any of the comments has reported ever seeing this place and no TSA officer in the area has stated that they have had this occur."

You've asked all the TSA employees in what area?

"More likely a fictitious story some Blogger made up."

Or so you hope. Personally, I go out of my way to extend to the TSOs the same courtesy that is extended to me. I had a TSO ask if he could get in front of me in line at a cafe in an airport. No way that's going to happen!

But then you knew that, didn't you, TSM?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"Specifically, why does TSA search people on trains? And why do they search them when they're getting off the train and attempting to exit the station, and not before boarding? What security function does that fulfill?"

What security function? None. The function is to increase the size and scope of the DHS.

If you're stopped on the way out of a train station, tell the TSO to get lost. If he doesn't like it, he can get an LEO.

RB said...

http://avstop.com/march_2011/tsa_cooked_the_books_on_costs_federal_vs_private_screening.htm


TSA Cooked The Books For Years On Costs, Federal Vs Private Screening

By Mike Mitchell



March 14, 2011 - The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a letter to Transportation Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL) that confirms the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has used faulty data and withheld information when evaluating and comparing the costs of the all-federal screening model and an alternative federal-private screening program.

The Screening Partnership Program was established in the Aviation Transportation Security Act (ATSA) after September 11, 2001, to enable airport authorities to “opt-out” of all-federal screening and instead use private screening contractors under federal standards, supervision and oversight. Previously, TSA has misleadingly claimed that the cost of the privatized screening program is at least 17 percent higher than the cost of using screeners who are TSA employees.

“In essence, TSA cooked the books to try to eliminate the federal-private screening program,” Mica said. “GAO found that TSA ignored critical data relating to costs. In fact, according to TSA’s own revised cost study, the cost differential between the two screening models is closer to three percent, likely within the margin of error,” Mica said.
.....................

So what do you have to say for yourselves TSA?

What is the real TSA agenda?

We know it is not the safety of the traveling public.

Anonymous said...

These contractors are even less competent than the TSA employee screeners. A few months ago, I flew into Jackson Hole and inadvertantly walked back through the thresshold between a non-sterile area into the sterile area. Not only did no one stop me, but no one even noticed.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"These contractors are even less competent than the TSA employee screeners. A few months ago, I flew into Jackson Hole and inadvertantly walked back through the thresshold between a non-sterile area into the sterile area. Not only did no one stop me, but no one even noticed."

Actually, the TSA's own analysis indicated that private contractors are equal or superior to TSA screeners.

Anonymous said...

its a crock to think the tsa security are not more prone to being fired than your average big city police department employees

Anonymous said...

Do not waste your money on TSA pre-check if you have had a knee or hip replacement, you are still hauled out of the line pat down, and screened with scrutiny....this is after they have your fingerprints and life story on file. With the growing number of people with replacements and implants of some kind, the line is not going any faster for us.