WASHINGTON, DC—As Congress takes up the question of whether airport security should be returned to the hands of private contractors, a Zogby poll released today shows a majority of likely American voters saying they feel better protected by a federal workforce of passenger and baggage screeners than they would by a private company screener workforce.
The poll, commissioned by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), found that 59 percent of 1,049 likely voters said they would "feel safer if airports used a federal baggage screener workforce" rather than a "private company screener workforce." Fifteen percent said they were not sure which would make them feel safer, while 26 percent said they felt better with a private company workforce.
The poll's release comes a day before the delivery to Congress of a study by the contractor BearingPoint on the effectiveness of private security firms in five of the nation's airports. The airports examined by BearingPoint participated in a pilot program designed to test the prospects for returning airport security to the hands of private contractors, as it was prior to the September 11, 2001, attacks on Washington and New York.
After the attacks revealed serious lapses in the nation's airport security system, Congress created the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which today employs federal workers to screen air passengers and their baggage. Because parts of it have been deemed "security sensitive", the complete BearingPoint report is not expected to be released to the public.
"It would be interesting to know if the BearingPoint report backs up the findings of the Zogby poll," said AFGE National President John Gage. "It is the American people, after all, who are paying BearingPoint's fees—the same people who feel safer under the protection of a government-employed workforce."