TSA proposes Registered Traveler business plan

The Transportation Security Administration has issued a proposed model for the Registered Traveler program to clarify the roles of the various organizations that jointly would run the operation.

The agency, a unit of the Homeland Security Department, stated in late April that it plans to roll out the project to as many as 20 airports this year.

The new model confirms that the TSA plans to issue draft standards for the Registered Traveler program and begin a competitive procurement for support services next month. TSA plans to propose regulations for the program later this year that would evolve through a comment period to a final rule.

The proposed plan provides key details about how the biometric systems and networks that will form the IT structure of the Registered Traveler Program could operate.

TSA has invited public comment on the proposed plan, which covers topics such as the Central Information Management System that program participants will use as well as card production and issuance, a data transfer and storage model, and methods for maintaining privacy controls on biometric and other data in the system.

The overall aim of the program is to improve air travel security and provide improved customer service to trusted travelers by creating a voluntary background check process. It operates under the authority of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act.

The Registered Traveler Program Model sets out proposed functions for the various entities involved in the activity:
  • Enrollment providers, the organizations that collect biographic and biometric information from would-be trusted travelers and issue cards to participants
  • Registered Traveler applicants
  • Registered Traveler participants, meaning people who have been cleared and identified as trusted travelers
  • Service providers, a collective term for enrollment providers and verification providers
  • Sponsoring entities, such as airports or airlines
  • Transportation security officers, formerly known as screeners
  • TSA itself
  • Verification providers, the organizations that check the identities of trusted travelers as they pass through an airport. Verification providers may also be enrollment providers.

The TSA business model also covers methods of arranging the flow of funds from the applicants via the enrollment providers to the other organizations in the program that incur costs. One aspect of the program is that some airports intend to capture a portion of the fees registered travelers will provide when they are first enrolled and annually thereafter.

TSA itself would provide a gateway under the business model to government databases against which each registered traveler applicant would be checked. TSA would receive a share of the enrollment fees to defray the cost of the background checks, which are known as 'security threat assessments.'

Various participants in the program have estimated that the initial Registered Traveler enrollment fee would be in the range of $75 to $100, and that a full-scale national program could eventually include 2 million to 3 million people.

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