TSA PreCheck Could Get Much Easier to Sign Up For After September 2018

TSA bet a lot on PreCheck. On the one hand, it makes no sense to spread resources thin and screen everyone when not everyone represents the same kind of risk. On the other hand a system that says certain passengers are exempt from screening processes pre-identifies those people as able to bypass the screening system creating a risk. Of course most of those processes provide little security, and even if they did TSA fails to detect threats 90% – 95% of the time. So this debate is mostly moot.

Staffing levels for the agency, though, were set based on an assumption of hitting goals for signing passengers up for PreCheck and the agency has had difficulty hitting signup targets. They use private contractors for this, but one company was given a monopoly contract — Morpho Trust — and their procedures have severe limits on signup throughput.

Philadelphia PreCheck

As According to Airport Policy and Security News explains,

But because Morpho’s vetting method requires fingerprints that it submits to the FBI, applicants must appear in person, either at those airports where Morpho has set up a recruiting office, or at off-airport locations which in some cases are at seaports where the Department of Homeland Security sends people for other programs such as Global Entry fingerprinting and interviews.

TSA sought additional providers in 2016 to help expand PreCheck but Morpho Trust filed a bid protest (they were selected as one provider but not the sole provider) and then they sued. The agency gave up.

However Morpho’s sole source contract expires in September 2018. And TSA is re-opening competition for “what it calls Universal Enrollment Services (including PreCheck).”

Here’s what TSA is looking at:

[F]irms that were in competition for TSA’s previous third-party screening recruitment contracts proposed using big data algorithms to separate low-risk from high-risk people. In one procurement, would-be contractors actually used large sets of names provided by TSA, applied their algorithms, and sent the selected “eligible” names to TSA to check against its own databases and watch lists.

DFW PreCheck

Morpho Trust is lobbying against the effort, insisting that its method of using biometrics should be the only permissible way to screen candidates for the program.

There’s currently a Senate bill that would allow TSA to use non-biometric methods that it certifies are just as effective. That would mean online application for PreCheck. However the corresponding House bill HR 2825 does not include this.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. The TSA Pre lines are already getting too long; sometimes it takes just as long to pass through the TSA Pre line as it does the general security line. The last thing I want is more TSA Pre or GE members.

  2. Longer TSA Pre lines increase the value of CLEAR membership. CLEAR is about the only DL Diamond perk that one can count on, as long as it lasts.

  3. Sounds like a typical government program, interested in quantity rather than quality, results be damned.
    Pre-Check is a sound idea but has morphed into something almost not identifiable. The passengers being funneled through Pre-Check seem to encompass a wide variety of passengers who have never been screened at all. Was in Austin recently and there was a family of 5 Eastern Europeans, non English speaking, obviously visitors to the US going through, unloading their bags, taking off shoes, belts, jackets, etc. totally unaware of the procedure. And yes, the Pre-Check line quickly surpassed the standard line. This is not the only occasion, either. You should see the Pre-Check line at Terminal 4 at JFK! Yikes!
    Lets tighten it up so its meaningful

  4. Isn’t it some shit that Morpho is now owned by Idemia and that’s in France. All the background checks run through FRANCE. DO YOUR HOMEWORK PEOPLE. This company is a disgrace and greedy.

  5. Nay, you could do your homework as well. The division responsible for PreCheck has been owned by larger French companies for many years, but started as a small business in the USA and has remained largely a separate entity within the company. The people, technologies, and resources behind the Universal Enrollment/Precheck program are all located within the USA. The background checks never go out of the country and only USA citizens are even allowed to work on the program. Get your shit straight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.