Despite the Transportation Security Administration’s ten-point action plan to reduce long lines at airports across the country, lengthy queues remain. Now, the TSA’s summer may be getting even worse: According to a recent report from the House Homeland Security Commission entitled “Misconduct at TSA Threatens the Security of the Flying Public“, nearly half of the TSA’s 60,000 employees have been cited for misconduct in recent years.
The bad news doesn’t stop there. Citations have increased 28.5 percent from 2013 to 2015, and in 2015, the average U.S. airport received 58 complaints each year—more than one a week. (Unsurprisingly, some of the nation’s largest and busiest airports—Los Angeles International Airport, Newark International Airport, and Boston Logan International Airport—saw the highest rates of misconduct.) The complaints can come from frustrated passengers, sure, but also from fellow TSA employees and other government workers.
Perhaps even worse? The outcomes of these misconduct allegations. Findings from the six-month-long investigation show that from fiscal year 2013 to 2015, the number of investigations opened and closed decreased by 15 percent and 28 percent, respectively. TSA increased the use of non-disciplinary actions by almost 80 percent, while it decreased the use of disciplinary actions by 14 percent. Put simply, this means the TSA has offered fewer (and lesser) punishments, and has instead sought to treat the misconduct with “more counseling and letters that explain why certain behaviors were not acceptable.”
Of the total allegations filed, 90.8 percent were against TSA officers, while 4.8 percent were filed against managers or administrators. Of the areas of misconduct, “Attendance & Leave” sees the highest number of offenders, while “Failure to Follow Instructions,” “Screening & Security,” “Neglect of Duty,” and “Disruptive Behavior” round out the top five. And while officials commended Administrator Peter Neffenger for the changes he has made to the TSA thus far (without specifically naming any of them), they called on him to lead bolder reform.
“Growing misconduct across TSA’s ranks and TSA’s lack of accountability is alarming and unacceptable,” stated Scott Perry, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency. “We’re in the highest threat environment since 9/11 and terrorists are intent on attacking civil aviation, as we’ve seen in Brussels and Istanbul. TSA needs significant and lasting reforms to address its employee misconduct crisis. I urge Administrator Neffenger to immediately implement the recommendations in our report to improve the integrity of the workforce and ensure they are focused on their core mission—protecting travelers.” View our complete list of the best places to visit in the U.S.