Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas meets with TSA employees at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on May 25, 2021. (DHS)

How the President’s FY 2022 Budget Will Help to Secure Transportation

The past year has been an unprecedented one for everyone, not least transportation operators and travelers. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been quick to act and adopt new technology to keep transportation secure and make it safer from a public health perspective. Its focus on innovation and emerging technologies will continue and financial support will be required both to maintain the existing equipment base and workforce as well as develop new solutions while preparing for an increase in travelers.

The TSA section of the FY 2022 President’s Budget for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) focuses on preserving frontline operations, adjusting for projected passenger volume, transitioning to new technologies while maintaining current screening equipment, and optimizing resources through efficiencies. 

$127.1 million will be used for the Secure Flight Program, which mitigates known and unknown threats to aviation security by identifying high- and low-risk passengers and designating them for enhanced screening, standard screening, expedited screening, or prohibition from boarding a covered flight, as appropriate. The Secure Flight program operates a risk-based, intelligence driven watch list matching capability that uses government watch lists to effectively identify individuals. 

Checkpoint Property Screening System (CPSS) is set to receive $104.5 million to support checkpoint screening capability by addressing identified capability gaps in current property screening technologies’ ability to reliably and efficiently detect new and evolving threats to civil aviation. The CPSS program will advance TSA beyond its existing capabilities by deploying an improved aviation security infrastructure for checkpoint screening, including Computed Tomography (CT) systems, many of which are already in place at the nation’s airports. 

$55.9 million is earmarked for Information Technology Management, Performance Analysis, and Collaborative Technologies (IMPACT) II, an IT support services contract that operates, maintains, and improves TSA’s IT services and processes. IMPACT supports more than 65,000 personnel at TSA HQ, 600 field sites, including national airports, FSDs, FAMS offices, and TSA Freedom Center. Additionally, IMPACT is required for IT infrastructure, operations and maintenance, and services for all TSA employees, contractors, and support personnel, as well as the security of national transportation for the traveling public. 

$47.6 million is allocated to Service Pay (Annualization) for Transportation Security Officers, or TSOs, continuing the comprehensive pay strategy to attract, build, and inspire the TSO workforce through predictable, annual pay increases for those responsible for frontline screening operations, meeting the security demands at airports nationwide. 

In addition, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has announced new efforts to support TSA’s  screening officer workforce.

$31.9 million goes to the Personnel Futures Program which provides a full range of TSA human resources operations, systems, and services through a portfolio of contracts. Over the course of a year, TSA processes over 600,000 personnel transactions, over 170,000 candidate applications, and hires approximately 15,000 new employees. The human capital systems are currently undergoing a modernization effort to update outdated legacy systems and bring the storage and processing of sensitive personally identifiable information for candidates and employees into secure cloud computing environments. 

The FY 2022 Budget provides $35.8 million for Transportation Security Equipment (TSE) maintenance to preserve the operational capability of security technology equipment at existing availability levels and at all federalized airports. 

TSA’s Insider Threat Program is set to receive $27.2 million to deter, detect and mitigate insider threats to personnel, operations, information, and critical infrastructure. It is a key component of the government-wide insider threat program. TSA focuses on individuals with access and/or insider knowledge that allows them to exploit vulnerabilities of U.S. transportation systems with the intent to cause harm. This includes direct risks associated with TSA’s security programs and operations, as well as the indirect risks that may compromise critical infrastructure.

Overall, the DHS budget remains flat from FY 2021. However, it is worth remembering that transportation security will also of course benefit from investment elsewhere, such as the Science & Technology Directorate’s counter drone and narcotic detection programs, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s funding for national infrastructure and cyber defenses, and Customs and Border Protection’s investment as it moves to adopt alternative, technological solutions to the physical border barrier.

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Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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