TSA seeks bids to help jump-start in-limbo Registered Traveler program

Published 9 January 2006

TSA’s own frequent flyer program has gotten off to a troubled start; now DHS issues RFPs to revive it

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is not giving up on its own version of a frequent flyer program: It wants companies to submit business models for its Registered Traveler program by the end of the month in order to jumpstart plans for a privately run program. The TSA wants passengers who have successfully completed a security threat assessment by TSA to be expedited through security-checkpoint processing, thus allowing security resources to focus on unknown travelers and other threats. Implementing the troubled Registered Traveler program is part of a more general shift in TSA’s aviation security priorities from emphasis on screening individual passengers toward a much more pronounced emphasis on explosive detection in baggage. Last November’s relaxation of rules governing scissors and small knives on board should be seen in this light. TSA solicited the business plans in a posting at FedBizOpps.

Kip Hawley, DHS assistant secretary in charge of TSA, told Congress in November that the agency would select companies by April to issue biometric smart cards to participants and deploy the screening program by summer. In its online posting the agency called for “critical functions” inherent to the proposed Registered Traveler business models, including technology to capture travelers’ biometric information. The criteria would include scanned fingerprints or digital photographs; smart cards embedded with biometric and biographic information; and data storage and transfer capabilities.

-read more in Greta Wodele’s National Journal’s Technology Daily report