WASHINGTON, DC – The US Travel Association on Thursday warned Congress that planned cuts to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)’s staffing budget could send shockwaves through an already beleaguered air travel system.
In letters to the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Appropriations, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow referred to federal government reports finding weaknesses in TSA’s screening procedures. Reduced staffing, Dow suggested, would likely only serve to exacerbate the problems.
“In light of…efforts to address the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHSOIG) recommendations and pursue solutions to the challenges presented by recent and on-going covert testing, we are concerned that a reduction in staffing levels below FY15 levels will not be adequate to deliver an effective security system and earn the confidence of the traveling public,” Dow wrote in his letter. “We, therefore, strongly urge that the Committee revisit its FY16 recommendations and find cost savings in other areas to allow funding for security staff to be kept at current levels rather than reduced by some 600 employees.”
Separately, Dow commented: “Find me the traveler or politician who thinks the TSA is doing such a terrific job that cutting its resources makes abundant sense. Not only are well-publicized TSA errors virtually guaranteed to not improve, but current air travel hassles are already causing Americans to skip 38 million plane trips a year, costing the economy more than $35 billion, and would likely get worse. We don’t see this funding proposal as a means to address weaknesses and inefficiencies in the system.
“Just this week, new TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger spent an hour with some of our industry’s top executives, and it is clear he is well aware of the challenges facing his agency and its importance to the American economy and way of life. This budget blueprint ties his hands before he has a chance to make a shred of progress. We support Administrator Neffenger’s funding request, and hope Congress will give the issue a full airing before a final decision is made.”