Registered Traveler set to go nationwide

The Transportation Security Administration plans to expand Registered Traveler to all U.S. airports beginning next week and also eliminate a TSA-conducted screening from the program that it considers duplicative, the agency announced today.

Registered Traveler is a so-called trusted traveler program that provides designated airport security lanes and expedited screening for prescreened and enrolled travelers. The travelers pay a fee, provide their personal information, undergo a security assessment by TSA and receive biometric identification cards. Once enrolled, they display their identification cards to use the dedicated lanes at airports.

Registered Traveler is up and running at 19 airports under a pilot project established in 2006. The program, which is run by private contractors in concert with the TSA, has enrolled about 135,000 travelers, TSA said in a news release.

Until now, only 20 airports were eligible to participate in Registered Traveler. Once official notice is posted in the Federal Register next week, all U.S. airports will be able to offer the service, TSA said. To participate in the program, airport authorities must sign contracts with eligible contractors, such as Flo Corp. and Verified Identity Pass Inc.

In addition, TSA said it will eliminate the security assessment it conducts when travelers enroll in Registered Traveler and eliminate the $28 fee charged to the enrollees for that assessment. The agency said the assessment was duplicative because all air travelers are checked, and will continue to be checked, against terrorist watch lists by the airlines.

"TSA determined that the current security threat assessment largely duplicates the watch list matching that is conducted on all travelers every time they fly," the agency said in a news release. "The other parts of the security threat assessment are not core elements in determining threats to aviation security and will no longer be required, and the government is eliminating the $28 fee."

One of the features of Registered Traveler is interoperability. With at least two contractors offering Registered Traveler, the identification cards have been designed and vetted to be interoperable at each other's kiosks. The interoperability testing officially concludes next week, TSA said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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