- The Washington Times - Monday, July 14, 2003

The Transportation Security Administration plans to hire 1,300 part-time security screeners at 30 major airports, including all three in the Washington area.

The part-timers will work only during peak hours, such as in the morning rush of business travelers.

The goal is to make the most efficient use of the screening work force, TSA officials said.

“The basic issue is that we’re trying to adjust the work force to keep the maximum number of checkpoint lanes open during peak travel times and then avoid being overstaffed during the lulls,” TSA spokesman Mark Hatfield said.

The agency is trying to fill gaps left by the layoffs of 6,000 full-time screeners that are occurring now.

Congress ordered the TSA to cut the number of its full-time screeners by 10 percent before Sept. 30 after reports of overstaffing.

Few screeners are being laid off in the Washington area.

The TSA still is trying to figure out how many part-time screeners to assign to the Ronald Reagan Washington National, the Washington Dulles International and the Baltimore-Washington International airports.

“That modeling has to be done on an airport-to-airport basis,” Mr. Hatfield said.

He expects all the part-timers to be hired and assigned before Oct. 1, the beginning of fiscal 2004.

The TSA has used “a handful” of part-time screeners at some of its 429 commercial airports, Mr. Hatfield said. “This is a significant change.”

The part-timers will receive the same 104 hours of training as full-time screeners and undergo the same background checks conducted for full-timers.

Airline industry groups said they believe part-time screeners would be useful.

“We’re thrilled because they will be better able to staff the checkpoints based on the actual needs and schedules of the airlines,” said Ian Redhead, vice president of Airports Council International-North America, a trade group for airports.

“We all want our government to be most efficient,” said David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association.

Mr. Stempler said that as long as the part-time screeners have the same skills and capabilities of full-time screeners, “we’re OK with that.”

Airports did not participate in the decision to use part-time screeners, who are under exclusive control of the TSA.

“This is out of our hands,” said Tom Sullivan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports.

The authority manages the Reagan and Dulles airports.

Online applications are at www.tsa.gov.

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