Raines continues: “The other thing that happens, which I think is the biggest benefit, is that we learn things from our inspections. There are best practices throughout the country that we get from these various inspections, assessments really. Then we compile those and send them out to the transit community so that they can learn…Our transit agencies are extremely well run, well managed business and they know how to innovate and wherever we can find an innovation we try to share it.”
For agency’s that are excelling, those that receive the Gold Standard, TSA won’t come back to do another inspection for three years. However, in the interim they will have regular contact with the agency and will make visits out to the property; they just won’t perform an official audit.
“It’s not like we will never be on that property for three years; we still go back and collaborate and cooperate and share information, but the actual formal BASE assessment will be every three years if you are meeting that absolute superior standard that these 17 properties have met,” explains Raines.
For agencies that are doing “a pretty good job,” then TSA will come every other year to perform an assessment. Finally for those agencies who have areas that need work, TSA will work with them and perform an assessment every year.
“If you’ve got things that we’ve got to work out together, then we’re going to hang in there with you and assess you every year until you’re in good shape and we’re going to be working with you on a regular basis. A lot of times especially in the smaller properties it’s good for them to have a little help,” Raines says.
The BASE Program has helped to raise the overall security baseline of the country.
“What we saw three years and what we’re seeing now, we’re seeing a definite improvement in the security baseline of the country. I think we’re going to be raising the bar and will continue to raise the bar so we are delivering excellence in security,” Raines says
This year TSA handed out 17 awards for the Gold Standard The recognized agencies were reviewed in 2011 and attained high scores across all categories. TSA considers this caliber of performance as reaching a “Gold Standard” and recognizes these agencies for having strong security programs. TSA continues to work with all transit agencies across the country to develop and implement robust security practices system-wide.
The agencies recognized for achieving the Gold Standard in 2011 are: Amtrak, Bi-State Development Agency (MetroLink) in St. Louis, Central Ohio Transit Authority, Denver Regional Transportation District, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, Indianapolis and Marion County Public Transportation, New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, North County Transit District, Pierce County Transportation Benefit Area Authority, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Spokane Transit Authority and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
Of those 17 awards, five of them were personally presented by the TSA administrator. “I think that really shows the importance of the program to TSA. He would have done more if his schedule would have allowed it. I think it’s just a really important program for us and it’s nice to be able to go out and recognize excellence,” Raines concludes.