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Vendor Issues, Technology Debates Trouble PreCheck Program

There’s talk of allowing sign-ups for the popular airport security program through mobile devices, but the exclusive vendor for PreCheck is opposed to some of the details of how that would look. Meanwhile, some associations say that there should be more than one vendor administering the TSA program.

The Transportation Security Administration’s popular PreCheck program is in a bit of a holding pattern, and a mixture of vendor issues and a desire to change the way it works is to blame.

Currently, the program relies on a single vendor, IDEMIA (formerly called MorphoTrust), to administer it. The firm is attempting to make the case to Congress that it should be possible to sign up for the program without an in-person interview. Instead, it would rely on the use of mobile devices.

That could make PreCheck a more mainstream program and make it much easier for people to sign up. However, the details of how this would work are proving challenging. According to Politico, travel and airport groups are supporting a bill that would expand the ways identity could be verified under the PreCheck program beyond biometrics, but IDEMIA remains opposed to moving away from biometric technology.

Additionally, there remain questions about how the program is organized. Specifically, groups like the U.S. Travel Association say that the program should rely on more than a single vendor.

In recent testimony to the House Committee on Homeland Security, U.S. Travel Senior Director of Government Relations Lorraine Howerton argued it was imperative to increase the number of vendors involved in the program. According to the transcript of her remarks [PDF], Howerton stated:

TSA has faced several road blocks in expanding the number of third-party prescreening companies to sign individuals up for the program. Currently, there is only one third-party prescreening company. It is worth repeating that there is only one third-party vendor that prescreens applicants, markets the program, enrolls applicants and adjudicates their application. This is just not acceptable. There should be multiple companies. This will drive competition, reduce costs, and help grow TSA PreCheck enrollment.

The potential for changes to the current model could be coming very soon. As Boarding Area’s “View from the Wing” blog noted last year, TSA sought other providers in 2016, only to have IDEMIA push back. However, the company’s contract expires in September, which could eventually ease up the process for travelers by making more options available.

For now, at least, IDEMIA has been working to open up more enrollment centers for travelers during the summer travel season.

(BSPC/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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