Transportation Department kicks off campaign to hire baggage screeners

If you are interested in joining a new corps of federal baggage screeners at airports, Uncle Sam wants your address. The Transportation Department kicked off its campaign to hire thousands of baggage screeners over the weekend by asking potential candidates to register with the department. Everyone who signs up with DOT will be sent a formal job application when they are ready, which should be by the end of the year. By encouraging applicants to register now, DOT will have a database of potential candidates by the time it is ready to accept applications. People who want to be considered for the screening jobs can register with DOT by e-mail or phone. E-mail applicants should send their name and e-mail address to Phone applicants can call DOT at 202-366-9392 or 1-800-525-2878 and leave their name and mailing address. DOT will likely need to hire more than 28,000 baggage screeners as it assumes screening duties at the nation's airports, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said last week. Under the new Aviation and Transportation Security Act, DOT has nine months to hire all the screeners and three additional months to certify their deployment at airports. The law requires all screeners to be U.S. citizens, speak English, and be able to identify contraband items. Screeners must also meet certain performance standards that DOT is crafting with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Office of Personnel Management. Transportation officials are exploring ways to create a professional culture for the baggage screening organization, which will be part of the new Transportation Security Administration. During the course of a day, a screener could perform a variety of tasks, such as screening passengers, performing security checks on airplanes and inspecting checked baggage, a senior Transportation official said last week. "I think what we're going to have is some ability to move people around during the course of their day and week and month of work," said the official. DOT hopes to emulate the can-do spirit of the Coast Guard in the new agency, the official said. Updates on the screening jobs will be published on the DOT Web site.
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