Policy: National Security

GAO: Transportation Security Administration misconduct on the rise

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Beltway Confidential,Transportation,Joel Gehrke,National Security,Analysis

Misconduct at the Transportation Security Administration has risen over the last three years, according to a new Government Accountability Office report faulting the agency’s process for monitoring employee misconduct.

“TSA investigated and adjudicated approximately 9,600 cases of employee misconduct from fiscal years 2010 through 2012,” the GAO reported. “From fiscal  years 2010 through 2012, the annual number of TSA misconduct cases  increased from 2,691 to 3,408.”

Ten percent of the cases involve “inappropriate or sexual misconduct, fighting, abusive language, or abusive use of authority,” according to the report. Most, though, stemmed from Transportation Security Officers failing to do their jobs: 32 percent of the cases involved “unexcused or excessive absences or tardiness, absence without leave, [or] failure to follow leave procedures;” another 20 percent involved “failure to follow standard operation procedures, bypassing screening, [or] sleeping on duty.”

Lax monitoring procedures allow derelict officers to avoid oversight by transferring from one airport to another. “[I]n situations where an employee transfers between airports, lack of information on previous corrective actions taken against the employee would hamper TSA’s ability to follow progressive discipline at the new airport,” GAO found. “In fiscal year 2012, about 2,100 TSA employees transferred between airports.”

The House Homeland Security Committee hearing will hold a hearing on the TSA Wednesday.

“The report’s findings show that TSA plays fast and loose with its use of recommended penalties for misconduct,” Rep Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., said in a statement ahead of the hearing. “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 suspension or termination. Despite promises of harsh punishments for stealing, some TSA officers keep their jobs and are let off with a letter. These findings show why many Americans have lost respect for the agency protecting our airports.”

 

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