The House Homeland Security Committee Majority Staff Report has just published its investigation on aviation security, and the title really tells you everything you need to know: MISCONDUCT AT TSA THREATENS
THE SECURITY OF THE FLYING PUBLIC.
The headline finding: nearly half of all TSA employees have been cited for misconduct, and misconduct has been on the rise since 2013. A lot of that misconduct is just not showing up for work (predictably, the TSA has terrible morale, the worst of any federal agency and is ranked among the worst places to work in the US government), with an equally large tranche relating to "insubordination, ignoring policies or security procedures, and disrespectful behavior" (being a dick).
In more than 80% of cases, "non-disciplinary action" was taken against the TSA employees -- in many cases, managers violated TSA policy by taking these non-disciplinary actions.
The report also finds that the TSA doesn't keep adequate records of misconduct and response, and lacks mechanisms to address what misconduct it does track. Sometimes, the TSA ends up employing people whom other agencies have warned them against -- for example, Customs and Border Protection warned TSA that a prospective hire had admitted to "selling and using drugs, accepting bribes, engaging in prostitution, and being involved in a credit card scheme" (the TSA hired this person); in another case, the US Postal Service warned TSA that one of their employees had "admitted to participating in the production, possession, and distribution of child
pornography; abuse of an animal; and shoplifting."
The Committee is alarmed by the longstanding dysfunction at TSA and the serious examples
of misconduct that appear to exist at all levels of the organization. During the course of this
investigation, it became clear to the Committee that TSA has not taken all the necessary
steps to ensure that employees follow policies and that misconduct is properly addressed.
TSA has issued policies and the Table of Offenses and Penalties that, in theory, should
provide guidance to employees about appropriate conduct and processes for addressing
misconduct. However, TSA has not put in place effective mechanisms to ensure that
policies are followed.
While we commend Administrator Peter Neffenger for the changes he has made to
improve TSA to date, it is unclear whether these changes will be institutionalized as the
next Administration begins its term. TSA needs bold reform, led by senior officials with a
strong commitment and willingness to change in the face of criticism in order for lasting,
positive change to take hold. To improve, significant management reforms at TSA must be
MISCONDUCT AT TSA THREATENS
THE SECURITY OF THE FLYING PUBLIC [Rep. Scott Perry/House Homeland Security Committee Majority Staff Report]
Almost Half of All TSA Employees Have Been Cited for Misconduct
[Katherine LaGrave/Conde Nast Traveler]