Study Finds Making PreCheck Free Could Save TSA Millions

CHICAGO (CBS) — A new study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign claims the government should pay for frequent fliers to join the PreCheck program, because it will actually save the TSA money.

The more people who consent to fingerprinting and background checks ahead of time, means fewer fliers will have to go through more rigorous screening at the airport.

That’s the finding of a study led by University of Illinois Computer Science Professor Sheldon Jacobson. WBBM’s Nancy Harty reports.

“When people enroll in PreCheck, it actually reduces the work load on the transportation security officers,” Jacobson said. “It also requires less intensive equipment.”

He said prescreening would save TSA $34-million annually in requiring fewer security agents and costly equipment at airports.

“It is in TSA’s best interest to provide the incentive to have people enroll at no cost for PreCheck,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson estimates if 25-million people joined the program, it would mean 300 million faster screenings each year. Which would allow agents to focus on high risk passengers.

The TSA used some of Jacobson’s earlier research to help develop PreCheck.

He said the agency asked for a copy of this paper, which is calling for an end to the $85 fee.

If the TSA meets its goal of enrolling 25-million people in PreCheck, Jacobson said it will improve things for even those not enrolled, because their lines will go down too.

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