- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 5, 2002

From combined dispatches
The federal government hopes to have new security screeners at some of the nation's airports by April or May, Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said yesterday.
"I want to underscore my commitment to hire the best and the brightest for these critical security positions and to the creation of a federal security work force that is highly trained and better paid," Mr. Mineta said.
The government will hire more than 30,000 screeners nationwide and pay them between $23,600 and $40,700 a year. Poorly paid, undertrained screeners were scrutinized after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Federal investigators told Congress that the minimum-wage workers had trouble spotting weapons during government tests. Annual turnover rate among these workers was as high as 125 percent because even many fast-food jobs offered higher pay.
NCS Pearson, which provides online testing services for the Virginia Department of Education, won the $103.4 million contract to coordinate the hiring of the new screeners.
The screeners are to be in place by Nov. 19, the deadline set under provisions of a law Congress passed after the terrorist attacks. That law requires the new workers to be federal employees.
The federal employees will be phased in at security checkpoints, beginning with more than a dozen airports where officials of the Transportation Security Administration are already studying procedures.
NCS Pearson, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., provides services to government and private industry to help them hire employees, including psychological assessments and Web sites that allow prospective workers to apply over the Internet.
"What we bring to the customer is the ability to manage large-scale, complex data management," said Dave Hakensen, spokesman for NCS Pearson.
NCS Pearson was one of three contractors that hired the personnel who did door-to-door surveys for the 2000 census, which Mr. Hakensen said "certainly gave us a foothold in knowing how to screen and hire people."
The one-year contract calls for NCS Pearson to collect applications, administer physical and aptitude tests and interview candidates for jobs. Applicants must pass a criminal-background check, speak English, have a high school diploma and be U.S. citizens.
The new Transportation Security Administration plans to hire "a work force that is better trained, higher paid and provides the highest level of security," Mr. Mineta said.


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