Thompson Amendment Requires Performance Standards For Baggage Screeners

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) has introduced an amendment to the Aviation Security Act that will require the federal government to set and enforce strict standards to  keep the flying public safe. The measure requires that those responsible for airport security be held accountable for meeting performance goals, from the head of the FAA to airport screeners.

?We have to send a strong message that no longer will it be business as usual when it comes to screening luggage at our airports. We need make sure that the screening workforce and their managers will be held accountable,? Thompson said. ?One of the ways we can restore confidence in airline travel is by letting the American people know that strict screening standards are in place, and are being met.?

Thompson noted the General Accounting Office has reported that average detection rates at airports throughout the country have decreased from about 95% in 1993 to 85% in 1999.

?Clearly, airport security operations have not been held accountable for their performance in the past,? he said. ?There has been no carrot, and no stick. Now there will be. Those who perform well will be rewarded, those who don?t will be replaced. In addition, those in charge of overseeing this effort will be required to report to Congress so we can monitor the results.?

Thompson?s amendment requires the new head of aviation security to:

C            Implement results-based management in airport security operations, and;

C            Undertake certain human capital changes designed to reinforce such management by holding employees – whether public or private – accountable for meeting performance standards.

To encourage this results-based management, Thompson?s amendment also does the following:

C            Establishes a term limit (three to five years) for the head of aviation security, who may be reappointed if performance is satisfactory;

C           Require annual performance agreements for head of aviation security and each senior manager setting out organizational and individual goals. Bonuses can be given for achievement of such goals.

C            Establish an annual staff performance management system that includes setting individual, group, and organizational performance goals consistent with an annual performance plan.

The Thompson amendment also requires the new head of aviation security to establish specific performance standards and provide Congress with an action plan within 60 days to meet those levels; and to establish a long-term process for reporting performance results to Congress annually.

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