Wednesday, November 28, 2012

TSA Pre✓™ is a Risk Based Recipe for Success

TSA Pre✓™ logo.
I recently read an article at Huffington Post titled: Is The TSA's Pre Check Program A Recipe For Disaster? The easy answer to this question is no, but that wouldn’t make much of a blog post, now would it?

TSA Pre✓™ enables us to move away from the one-size-fits-all approach to transportation security. It improves security by using intelligence and information volunteered by passengers to help us make informed decisions about the level of threat. You can read more about TSA Pre✓™ by clicking here, but I’d like to help clarify a few things I read in the article. TSA Pre✓™  improves the customer experience by expediting the screening process and allowing travelers to keep 3-1-1 and laptops in their bag. Shoes and outwear too can stay on.

On Mistakenly Being Screened Through TSA Pre: If you’re randomly chosen to be screened through a TSA Pre✓™ lane, it’s not a mistake. Not all TSA Pre✓™ members are affiliated with Global Entry, SENTRI or NEXUS. Many were selected by participating airlines based upon TSA established criteria and opted-in through the airline’s system at no charge. There are many ways to opt-in to TSA Pre✓™. Sometimes the opt-in is as simple as clicking “yes” on a pop-up box when you sign into your mileage account. The airlines have included several different methods (mail, e-mail, pop-up boxes when you login, account profile update alerts) to opt-in.

On Having to Pay to Join TSA Pre™: You don’t have to pay to join TSA Pre✓™. That’s right, while paying to join Global Entry, SENTRI or NEXUS is an option, many members have been selected by airlines and at no charge.

On Identity Fraud Concerns: No security plan is without some level of risk. You’ll never hear us say that security is 100% effective. There are just too many variables involved. Administrator Pistole said it best in a recent letter to the editor: “TSA has created a layered security approach so that all passengers who go through checkpoints, including those in the TSA “PreCheck” program, are subject to multiple security measures including behavior detection, screening and canine assessment that secure travelers and our nation’s aviation system.”

So, rather than thinking TSA Pre✓™ is a recipe for disaster, I hope you now understand that it’s more of a recipe for success.

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.


Anonymous said...

The Precheck screening should be the standard screening for ALL passengers. The body scanners should be voluntary or a secondary method of screening, either by random selection or setting of the metal detector.

Shoes should not have to be taken off. Most countries do not require shoe removal and no planes have been blown up.

The one size fits all approach to airport security actually could work because 99.9999999999999+% of all passengers are NOT terrorists. However we are all treated as if we are terrorists. Go back to pre 9/11 security methods with the hardened cockpit doors. Look at all of the items found by the TSA each week. Rarely is anything caught by the body scanner and none of the items cuaght by it are threats to the plane.

If terrorism was really such a threat, wouldn't the TSA have caught at least ONE terrorist in their 10 year existence?

Anonymous said...

"...You’ll never hear us [TSA]say that security is 100% effective."


8 Billion dollars a year and I am not 100% Safe while flying!


Anonymous said...

Bob, care to comment on some of the serious concerns raised in that article's comments? Why is the government deeming as more trustworthy and less of a risk those passengers who patronize private companies (airlines) a certain amount? Why is a passenger who flies 100,000 miles a year on one airline less of a risk than a passenger who flies 20,000 miles apiece on five different airlines? Why is a passenger's elite status in a private company a factor in that passenger's risk factor? How about a passenger whose home airport is one of the over 200 airports where there is no PreCheck? How about a passenger who flies only 15,000 miles a year but has done so uneventfully for the past decade? How about passengers who fly mainly on airlines for which there is no PreCheck?

And finally, since passengers who are eligible won't know till they show up whether they've been deemed trustworthy that day, there is no time savings and passengers still must show up with enough time for the full TSA experience.

I fully expect you to post this comment and never address these serious concerns. Because that's what you do on this blog. With my taxpayer money.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

What are the metrics by which PreCheck success is measured? The number of terrorists is so minute that the TDC podium could randomly beep to send passengers to the "trusted" lane with no decrease in security.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your observations. As a very new TSA pre check person I have been a very satisfied user. And, I think the pre-screening that is done will reflect an appropriate risk analysis.

Anonymous said...

I think the program will have a lot of benefits for the frequent traveler. I hope that as a GOES participant, my checking the box at the airline will offer me added benefits at more airports for making the passing through security as fast as possible and with the least inconvenience. Keep up the good work to allow the non-Criminal advantages so you can concentrate on the criminals!

Anonymous said...

Bob, the author of the linked article has responded to your post.

Will you respond to his questions?

Anonymous said...

No one should have to remove shoes or jackets to go through security. No one should be forced to choose between being virtually strip-searched or rubbed down.

How about screening everyone like they do abroad? You know - metal detectors, with shoes on.

Sunshine All Day Long said...

I understand the head of the TSA refuses to meet with the congressional transportation oversight committee. The arrogance of the TSA knows no bounds! I also understand the TSA says they are above congressional oversite. I'm thrilled that the TSA is showing their arrogance so blatantly. I hope congress gets really angry with the TSA. I want to see a showdown and I want to see the TSA get what they deserve.

Captcha is pathetic.

Anonymous said...

TSA Pre is not a recipe for disaster. It will prove to be a hunting ground for identity thieves and unofficial "curious about" investigations.

Anonymous said...

No, it's a way to set up two-tiers of passengers: those whom you've invaded their privacy by running unecessary background checks so they can be "trusted" (put into your bloated database) and "untrusted" travelers whom you will continue to assault & take naked pics.

The US gov't shouldn't be like N. Korea. American citizens should NOT have to be "approved" or "trusted," nor get the gov't's "approval" to travel in our country.

Another step towards a "Papers Please" society.

RB said...

TSA's Pre Check is just another fouled up exercise by TSA that benefits few travelers while the remaining 98% of travelers are getting electronically strip search or felt up at TSA checkpoints.

Pre Check screening should be the standard level of screening for everyone and only going to higher levels with cause.

Do TSA employees have to identify themselves when asked?

Susan N said...

I was very excited to be part of the TSA Pre program as I travel 2-3times per month. I have so far only used the TSA Pre line twice mostly due to airports I am using do not have it yet). But I am a bit confused as my experience was very different with each. The first time it worked as I expected, kept jacket on, shoes on, laptop in bag (even though I have a TSA friendly bag and was able to do that prior). The second time, I was requested to take my shoes off (they might beep) and take my coat off (it might be too long). Not sure in the second case how going through the TSA Pre line made any difference for me from the standard line. So just curious, is this a matter of training, or is removing your coat and shoes up to the discretion of the agent? Don't get me wrong...not complaining... My experience with TSA has been great, especially as much as I travel. Ulike some of the comments I see hear bashing TSA (from what I suspect is people who don't even travel). I say keep finding those guns, etc...I do not need a whack job sitting next to me on a plane with a weapon...terrorist or not.

Susan Richart said...

What percentage of the flying public does pre-check impact, Bob? 1%? Certainly no more than 5% and it doesn't work on international flights.

Pre-check was designed to quell complaints from frequent flyers about the TSA's intrusive screening process.

BTW, as Bob still has not told us if TSA screeners are required to give us their names when asked, I certainly don't expect him to answer this question either.

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Anonymous said...

The Risk-based Security approach is truely the superior approach to an ineffective one-size-fits-all approach. The TSO's are so worried about satisfying every SOP when doing their job they may take their attention away from what really matters, catching the bad guy.

Anonymous said...

Friedman's article is far more convincing than your response.

1) I don't see you disputing his core concern: "The concern with this program is that TSA is supposed to be minimizing security threats where the threat is based on the specific event, someone boarding a plane, not the individual."

2) You don't dispute his point about identity theft and seem to be admitting that an identity theft could easily find a way to undermine PreCheck.

Anonymous said...

I hypothesize that Pre✓ is only an attempt to silence critics of TSA. Please provide studies showing precisely how Pre✓ contributes to more secure air travel.

Also, please comment on the Michelle Dunaj incident.

Anonymous said...

And if a person is just a regular once in a while traveler this is how TSA treats them.

Adrian said...

Can you cite any studies that demonstrate any sort of correlation between information PreCheck collects and the risk of a person having terrorist intentions?

Everything I ever read about the de-funded Total Information Awareness program (later called Terrorist Information Awareness) said that no good correlations were ever found. That's not surprising. Since there are very, very few terrorists. Statistically, it would be extremely difficult to find any sort of correlation.

What information could PreCheck candidates possibly reveal about themselves that would demonstrate that they are less risk than the non-PreCheck passenger?

With all the talk about risk-based approaches, I'd like to see some evidence that there's actually some risk-based analysis going on.

Adrian said...

I've been following the TSA and Global Entry links in circles. Is there a page or publicly-available document that explains what information someone must give up to the government to qualify for PreCheck? Is there a privacy policy for PreCheck?

Alan said...

I am very pleased with the Pre Program. It's now a pleasure to make my weekly trips in and out of the airport.

Anonymous said...

Is there any statistical correlation between the number of miles or the number of first class trips one takes a year and one's predilection to terrorist acts? Is a traveler who flies 100,000 miles a year less likely to be a terrorist than one who has taken only three trips a year, but has done so each year for the past decade?

Given the infinitesimally small number of actual terrorists out there, can *any* meaningful link be established between number of miles flown and terrorist inclinations?

If not, then we can only conclude that PreCheck is a carrot to airlines' most valuable customers to shut them up about the hassles of TSA screening.

Anonymous said...

Has posting of comments been suspended?

Do TSA employees have to identify themselves when requested?

Is it proper TSA policy to wear any identity documents upside down so a person cannot easily read the TSA screeners name?

Susan Richart said...

Bob, you forgot to mention in your thread that individuals who are disqualified from Pre-Check are put onto yet another watch list:

"Under the new TSA PreCheck system, known travelers who clear background checks get to leave on shoes, jackets and belts and not bother unloading laptops or liquids, as they board through a dedicated speed lane. But, as of November, previous PreCheck participants disqualified from the program due to certain violations are named in a new watch list that is part of the TSA screening system Secure Flight."

As usual, TSA put this into effect surreptitiously claiming it was not required to have a comment period.

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Anonymous said...

"....I do not need a whack job sitting next to me on a plane with a weapon...terrorist or not."

You do realize that same whack job is in the car next to you on the freeway, or in the back of the bus you're riding, or in the next subway car..... you do realize that don't you?

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Bob, I see that you're very quick in replying to questions about the minutia of this blog (the "popular posts" section).

But when you are asked questions about the underpinnings of PreCheck, allegedly one of the TSA's crowning achievements, silence.

Remind me again why the TSA even needs a social media team?

Anonymous said...

Why hasn't my comment about the TSA Blog Team's poor public relations work been approved?

Susan N said...

Anonymous said...
"....I do not need a whack job sitting next to me on a plane with a weapon...terrorist or not."

You do realize that same whack job is in the car next to you on the freeway, or in the back of the bus you're riding, or in the next subway car..... you do realize that don't you?

December 1, 2012 5:48 PM

Yes, I realize there are whack jobs all over the place...but if they are in the car next to me, the next subway car or even the back of the bus... I at least have a chance of getting away. Sitting next to me, all they have to do is reach over and stab me, punch me, bite me... we are in a plane, 30,000 miles up, stuck in a window seat.... just where do you suggest I go to get out of the way?

Anonymous said...

"... Sitting next to me, all they have to do is reach over and stab me, punch me, bite me... we are in a plane, 30,000 miles up, stuck in a window seat.... just where do you suggest I go to get out of the way?"

And the bus is headed down the freeway at 50 miles an hour.... how do you get away?

And the subway is in a tunnel doing 70 miles per hour... how do you get away?

The point is, the whack jobs are everywhere not just on an airplane. There are, in fact, fewer whack jobs on an aircraft then everywhere else and no credit to the TSA for that fact.

The TSA can not, will not, and does not, provide 'safety' to any passenger or aircraft. The TSA screens passengers for dangerous items to prevent those items from being on the aircraft. But the lack of 'dangerous items' does not make anyone safe while on the aircraft. There are so many items on the aircraft that someone could use to cause harm it isn't even funny. The only truly dangerous thing on the aircraft is someone wanting to do harm to the passengers or craft. TSA does nothing to prevent that. No one can.

Anonymous said...

Susan N said...

Yes, I realize there are whack jobs all over the place...but if they are in the car next to me, the next subway car or even the back of the bus... I at least have a chance of getting away. Sitting next to me, all they have to do is reach over and stab me, punch me, bite me... we are in a plane, 30,000 miles up, stuck in a window seat.... just where do you suggest I go to get out of the way?

December 7, 2012 9:33 AM

So a whack job is ok if they are in the back of a bus but not if they are in the back of an airplane ......30,000 miles..... up.

In today's world if that whack job did take you out there would be plenty of others ready to take out the whack job.

Anonymous said...

PLEASE expand Pre√ to include as many airports and checkpoints as possible.

Would love to see it added at PSP and BDL.


sean said...

nice blog

Ryan Gow said...

I believe it should apply to all passengers and not for those who want to opt in.