Inhofe Questions Witnesses at Commerce Aviation Subcommittee

WASHINGTON— U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today questioned witnesses at the Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security Subcommittee hearing entitled: Stakeholder Perspectives on Improving TSA for the Security of the Traveling Public. This was Inhofe’s first Aviation subcommittee hearing since joining the Commerce committee for the 115th Congress.

 Witnesses included Stephen Alterman, president of the Cargo Airline Association and chairman of the Aviation Security Advisory Committee; Sharon Pinkerton, senior vice president of Legislative and Regulatory Policy, Airlines for America; Kim Day, CEO of the Denver International Airport; and Mark Laustra, vice president of Global Business Development and Government Relations, Analogic.

 Inhofe emphasized the need to look towards global airport security leaders before proposing any large scale changes to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), asking witnesses which airports were the best to emulate and why.

 Day highlighted a number of features at the Amsterdam Schipol Airport. “If your bag [sets off] alarms, you and your bag are taken off line, everybody else goes through,” Day said. “They also have a person as you divest that’s doing a visual risk analysis of you and can push a button so you [can] get extra screening.”

 “I would also ask you look to our neighbors to the north—Canada. They’re upgrading their security systems at all the airports,” said Laustra, “Biometrics, Q monitoring software, remote screenings, smart lanes; they’re doing all of that. They’re way ahead of us in trialing these technologies.”

 Pinkerton agreed, however, noted that U.S. bureaucracy  would make implementing similar systems difficult in the United States. “The difference is the government procurement process, quite frankly.” said Pinkerton. 

 Alterman also discussed problems caused by bureaucracy. “There is resistance within the bureaucracy that people don’t want to do things differently and that culture is difficult to change,” Alterman said when Inhofe asked why TSA hadn’t scaled up the use of canine teams despite overwhelming industry support.

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