The federal government is considering major changes to a proposed airport screening program designed to rate the chances that each airline passenger is a terrorist or criminal, a top official told lawmakers yesterday.

David M. Stone, acting administrator at the Transportation Security Administration, told senators at his confirmation hearing yesterday that his agency intends to "reshape and repackage" the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening program, known as CAPPS 2, in order to address privacy concerns raised by U.S. airlines, political leaders and advocacy groups.

The program, which had been planned to begin operations this summer, was once billed as the most important tool for protecting the nation's aviation system from terrorism because it would mine numerous databases for information about each passenger's background -- including details such as how often a person changed addresses.

Stone said yesterday the TSA is now considering eliminating or changing four of the program's major components outlined last year. They include: an identity verification process; a check of each passenger's name against government lists of known terrorists; a process by which each passenger would be assessed and assigned a numerical score to rate the risk the traveler posed to the aircraft; and a comparison of each passenger's name against databases of known violent criminals.

-- Sara Kehaulani Goo