Today, Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced the Mobile Enrollment Act to improve Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck services, including by enabling Americans in rural communities to enroll online, rather than making an unnecessary trip to an enrollment-friendly airport during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This corrective legislation will get the TSA back on track to provide secure, user-friendly mobile enrollment options for rural Americans. It will also create opportunities for public and private entities to join forces in validating identity through mobile biometric capture,” said Senator Blackburn. “Additionally, this legislation will create new high-skilled engineering jobs in Franklin. The federal government needs to continue to adapt to the needs of the pandemic, and prioritizing access to government resources for rural Tennesseans will continue to be at the top of my list.”
“Currently, residents of rural states like South Dakota are at a disadvantage when it comes to signing up for TSA PreCheck, since the state’s only enrollment center is located in Sioux Falls,” said Senator Thune. “Creating a secure, fully mobile enrollment process greatly expands the accessibility of PreCheck for all Americans, making the traveling experience a little easier for the flying public.”
The Mobile Enrollment Act will:
- Force TSA to follow Congressional intent,
- Ensure there is a multi-vendor secure end-to-end mobile enrollment solution that will allow citizens in rural communities’ choice and ease of access for PreCheck enrollment, and
- Fast-track implementation of mobile biometric capture which is a critical tool in the advancement of digital government services.
IDEMIA, the current Universal Enrollment Service contract holder which conducts TSA’s PreCheck and other vetting programs, employs 300 people in Franklin, Tennessee.
“Senator Blackburn’s continued leadership and advocacy of this legislation helps to ensure continued job growth in Tennessee, while advancing TSA’s use of new and emerging technologies,” said Ed Casey, CEO, IDEMIA Identity & Security North America. “I would also like to thank Senator Thune for his continued advocacy and leadership to ensure that our rural communities can easily enroll in PreCheck. This legislation is an important next step in making that vision a reality”.
In 2018, Congress passed the TSA Modernization Act, which included a provision authored by then-Commerce Chairman Thune, requiring TSA to expand the PreCheck program by awarding contracts to at least two additional vendors that would provide either secure end-to-end mobile enrollment or a biographic vetting enrollment alternative to in-person fingerprints for a FBI Criminal History Records Check. The intent of this provision was to force TSA to create an easy enrollment option for people who live in rural communities.
In January 2020, the TSA Administrator issued a decision that biographic vetting was not equivalent to an FBI CHRC. The Administrator then went on to enter into agreements with three vendors for PreCheck expansion, pursuant to the requirements of the legislation. However, none of these agreements include secure mobile end-to-end enrollment because TSA has not taken any steps to determine how it can work with the FBI to create a secure end-to-end mobile enrollment option.
The legislation will compel TSA to follow Congressional intent, ensure there is a multi-vendor secure end-to-end mobile enrollment solution that will allow citizens in rural communities’ choice and ease of access for PreCheck enrollment, and fast-track implementation of mobile biometric capture which is a critical tool in the advancement of digital government services.