Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, July 31, 2013
A new report released by the Government Accountability Office this week found that more than 9,000 cases of misconduct by Transportation Security Administration workers were documented over the past three years, an increase of 26 percent during that time.
Among the more serious violations were employees sleeping on the job, allowing family and friends of TSA workers to bypass security, leaving work without permission and stealing items from passengers.
In fact, more than 1,900 of the violations were deemed significant enough to be classified as possible security threats. Nearly half of the 9,000 cases resulted in a letter of reprimand from the agency, while employees were suspended from work in 31 percent of the cases and completely removed from their jobs in 17 percent of them,according to NBC News.
“There’s not even a way to properly report some of the offenses, so this may be just the tip of the iceberg of some of the offenses,” Florida Rep. John Mica (R), a longtime critic of the TSA who ordered the audit, told CNN.
The audit was released ahead of a hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday that included representatives from both the TSA and GAO.
“The report’s findings show that TSA plays fast and loose with its use of recommended penalties for misconduct. When it comes to sleeping on duty, TSA is more likely to give a slap on the wrist through a reprimand letter than the standard penalty of suspensions or termination,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency, said in a prepared statement during Wednesday’s hearing.
“TSA has already been publicly scrutinized for its behavior and treatment of the American public, and when Americans hear about ethical misconduct from TSA employees, whether it be theft, neglect of duty, or even abusive language, it makes the problem even worse,” he continued.
The TSA has agreed to comply with the GAO’s recommendations to conduct reviews of misconduct cases to ensure that employees are following the correct protocol, to make sure supervisors keep track of the outcomes of cases and to develop a reconciliation process for employees who have never been accused of wrongdoing in the past. A representative for the agency also said in a statement that it was already in the process of implementing the report’s recommendations.
“All aspects of our workforce regimen — hiring, promotion, retention, training, proactive compliance inspections, investigations, and adjudications — are driven by adherence to the highest ethical standards. There is zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace and TSA takes appropriate action when substantiated, including anything from a referral to law enforcement or termination of employment,” the statement read.