The Bush administration is moving toward a major restructuring of the much-criticised Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in a shake-up that has already forced out the head of the unit. This was the TSA's third resignation since Congress created the airports-screening unit in late 2001.

David Stone, who took over TSA only 16 months ago, has announced he will be gone by summer. This comes as TSA's parent, the Homeland Security Department, seeks congressional approval to take over some of the TSA's most troubled programmes, such as its fast lane for registered frequent flyers and its visa-tracking entry system.

The Bush proposal, which also plans to raise ticket fees, would leave TSA with its 45,000 screeners at 400-plus airports and little else. Michael Chertoff, who became the head of Homeland Security early this year, replacing Tom Ridge, is conducting a sweeping review that some observers think would lead to a virtual dismantling of TSA. In recent months, the TSA has failed repeatedly to meet deadlines on a computer-assisted passenger screening programme and has allowed confidential passenger records to be released publicly.

Homeland Security may also combine its customs/border unit with its immigration/customs enforcement unit. The border unit has also run into delays in designing electronic passports.

Chertoff recently told a senate panel that his review will take months and that Congress could take at least that long to act on the proposals. At his request, Stone will stay on until summer, when a successor will have been named.

Source: Airline Business