The chairman of the Senate committee that oversees policies for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) asked a half-dozen groups that represent industry stakeholders in the U.S. transportation system to answer questions about how the agency’s budget request and recent pandemic stimulus funding affect security.

Answers to the questions will inform committee about challenges presented in the $8.2 billion fiscal year 2021 budget request, previous TSA-related legislation, and the recent CARES Act, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) wrote the stakeholders.

Wicker points to the agency’s $28.9 million request in the FY ’21 budget to purchase additional checkpoint computed tomography (CT) baggage scanners, noting their effectiveness for screening personal belongings while also potentially increasing passenger wait times and agency staffing needs if deployed without the right support equipment.

“What options should TSA consider to optimize checkpoint flow and nationwide CT deployment without requiring a net increase in checkpoint staffing or increasing passenger wait times?” Wicker asks.

The checkpoint CT systems are currently supplied by Smiths Detection and TSA is planning a competition for another round of purchases.

In the letter’s introduction, Wicker points out that passenger screening volumes at U.S. airports and ridership on passenger rails are a fraction of what they were a year ago.

Wicker also asks about $2.3 million in the request to finalize purchases of Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) to enhance identity verification at the front of TSA airport checkpoints and if the funding request and deployment plans are sufficient to meet aviation security needs. IDEMIA provides the CAT technology.

Wicker is also seeking input on a number of other issues such as proposed cuts to mobile TSA security teams and potential benefits of self-service and automated biometrics verification at checkpoints.

The letter was sent to the American Association of Airport Executives, Airlines for America, the U.S. Travel Association, Airports Council International-North America, the Airports Consultants Council, and the Surface Transportation Security Advisory Committee.