TSA seeks business plan for Registered Traveler

The Transportation Security Administration is seeking industry advice on extending the Registered Traveler voluntary passenger-screening program nationally, TSA officials said today.

TSA is giving vendors until Jan. 20, 2006, to respond to a request for information for the program, which is scheduled to start operating nationwide June 20, 2006. The agency wants a new business model that includes processes, technologies and services to implement the program.

The RFI requires the Registered Traveler business model to include:

  • A public/private partnership.

  • An open architecture so all vendors and airlines can participate.

  • Interoperable cards regardless of who issues them.

  • Multiple biometrics taken at enrollment (10 fingerprints and two iris scans).

  • Smart cards with biometric information used for verification only.

  • Biometrics to link individuals to the correct records for accurate security threat assessments.

  • TSA will soon announce the benefits that passengers will receive by participating in the program, said Darrin Kayser, a TSA spokesman.

    For example, they would get expedited passage through dedicated airport security lines in return for providing biometric and biographical information and agreeing to a background check. They would pay a user fee, which would fund the program.

    Registered Traveler is intended to speed more travelers through airport security. It also aims to reduce the number of passengers security screening workers must check by designating qualified participants as low-risk.

    The Transportation Security Clearinghouse will aggregate participants’ biometric and personal data and handle customer service, according to the RFI.

    TSA is looking for information on biometrics, smart cards, document validation, interface technologies and auditing processes, among other critical functions, the RFI states.

    TSA launched Registered Traveler at five airports in August 2004 and shut it down at those locations Sept. 30 because it had collected enough data to begin developing a national program, Kayser said.

    The five airports tested the program’s technology to see if it could positively identify and verify passengers, he said. The tests also gauged passengers’ interest in using expedited screening services.

    TSA is still operating a separate Registered Traveler pilot program in Orlando, Fla., that is a public/private partnership, Kayser said. The agency performs the screening while a private entity handles customer service and marketing, he added.

    TSA found that the public/private partnership was the best organizational model for the program, Kayser said.

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