PROVE THE VALUE
USCAP Balances Homeland Security with Travelers’ Needs
Following the Al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001, airport security and passenger screening were enhanced dramatically. However, the heightened security measures came at a significant cost to the airline industry and to the convenience of the traveling public. While the need for increased security measures was undisputed, the civil aviation industry wanted to be certain that new security measures were being implemented appropriately, with maximum effectiveness and without causing undue disruption and expense.
The O.R. Solution
To ensure that the decisions on airline security and passenger screener services are made on an analytically sound basis, a group of government agencies (including the Department of Homeland Security and its Transportation Security Administration) and private sector associations and individual companies (including The Boeing Company and AIRBUS) formed the U.S. Commercial Aviation Partnership (USCAP).
Operations research and industrial engineering professionals from Boeing and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) developed a suite of models known as the USCAP “Economic Tool.” Those models help to define and predict the operational and economic impacts of air travel security options on a system-wide basis. Employing probabilistic simulation, analytical queueing theory, and linear and nonlinear programming, the models analyze, over a 20-year time horizon, the macro, order-of-magnitude, and operational and economic relationships of key elements of the U.S. commercial aviation system.
In particular, the tool helps decision makers estimate the security efficiency, screener service performance, and economic/business performance impacts of different policy, strategy, and operational choices. Cost and benefit values are calculated for the TSA, as well as for airlines, airports, hotels, and related services.
Several policy decisions and recommended changes to federal law have been made based on the Economic Tool. For example, TSA decided to include all air-transportation workers in the passenger-screening process and made other technology and process decisions expected to result in a 7% reduction in the number of full-time screeners required. The TSA also expects to do a better job of prioritizing potential security actions to optimize dollar investments, resulting in the avoidance of an estimated $2.5–3 billion reduction in annual airline revenue. Also, the policy decisions resulting from the Economic Model are believed to have prevented a 5% reduction in airline traffic over the next three years that would have resulted from otherwise uninformed action by the U.S. Congress with regard to the deployment of TSA’s passenger screening force.