Transportation Policy

Almost Half of All TSA Employees Commit Misconduct, New Report Says

The rate of misconduct among staff rose nearly 29 percent in two years.

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||| Danjo Paluska / Flickr
Danjo Paluska / Flickr

A new report from the House Homeland Security Committee found that almost half of all Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees allegedly committed some form of misconduct between 2013 and 2015. Additionally, misconduct rose by nearly 29 percent during this period.

Some of the complaints include failure to follow TSA procedures, abusive behavior, sexual misconduct, and bribery. On average, 58 allegations of misconduct were filed at each airport in 2015, with 35 percent of airports experiencing an increase in the number of allegations over those two years.

In fairness, not every airport saw even one allegation. The number of complaints nationwide ranged from 0 to nearly 1,400, with the nation's largest airports experiencing higher rates of conduct violations.

There have been efforts to reverse the trend. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended in 2013 that the agency create a misconduct review process and put investigation procedures for misconduct allegations in place. The TSA said they were implementing these recommendations, but data suggest it did little good. One reason for the rise in incidents of misconduct, according to the report, was the TSA's failure to rigorously comply with the new policies.

The GAO's recommendation came after their report showing misconduct by employees increased by almost 27 percent between 2010 and 2012.

The data also show the TSA investigated fewer complaints as more were filed. The number of investigations that the agency opened decreased by 15 percent from 2013 to 2015. Only 6 percent of total misconduct allegations were investigated in 2013 vs. 4 percent in 2015.

The report then goes on to blame the TSA's bureaucratic structure, which tasks multiple disparate parties with investigating allegations (as you can see below). 

||| House Homeland Security Committee
House Homeland Security Committee

In order to deal with these problems, the Homeland Security Committee recommends that the TSA name "a senior executive to be responsible for overseeing the misconduct process" and that that person issue a department-wide misconduct policy.

But given that the agency already got a set of government recommendations a few years ago and failed to implement them, one has to wonder if these policies will actually do anything substantive to make air travel safer. As Reason's Ronald Bailey wrote in May, the TSA has a history of missing weapons and other allegedly dangerous items during screening. The TSA is also suffering from long lines caused by understaffing, and has had to reach out to the airlines for assistance in dealing with this issue.

It's a shame that nobody is floating the idea of privatizing the process. According to Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute, private security services have a proven track record of being both efficient and innovative. "Most airports in Europe and Canada use private companies for their passenger and baggage screening," he wrote in a 2013 policy analysis. "That practice creates a more efficient and innovative security structure, and it allows governments to focus on gathering intelligence and conducting analysis rather than on trying to manage a large workforce."

If you're planning on flying this summer, make sure to watch Reason TV's guide to dealing with the TSA:

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  1. Oh, FFS!

    Shut down the TSA until we figure out what is going on.

  2. Way lower than I would have guessed. I assume those are just the ones getting caught.

  3. Just awful, making the other half look bad like that.

  4. RE: Almost Half of All TSA Employees Commit Misconduct, New Report Says
    The rate of misconduct among staff rose nearly 29 percent in two years.

    The rate has risen 29 percent in two years.
    If that isn’t progress among our controllers, nothing is.

  5. I don’t understand what this has to do with Trump.

  6. It’s a shame that nobody is floating the idea of privatizing the process.

    Phhht! You can’t leave something this important to private companies! All they care about is profit! I mean, so what if profit is the price you pay for efficiency and innovation? It’s money that goes to rich people! That’s immoral! That’s why security must be done by the government! So what if they do a terrible job, don’t innovate, are inefficient, ineffective, wasteful, callous, and otherwise useless? It’s better than profits for the rich!

    1. The airlines may be happy to offload the cost of security to taxpayers.

      1. I think the airlines want it back. If you owned a club would you want your own doorman and bouncers or a bunch of retarded affirmative action government goons who can’t be fired. TSA is hurting business.

        1. They ain’t getting my business with the TSA in charge of security. And I doubt I’m the only one.

    2. It’s worse than that. Early in the history of this goat rope there were a couple of private companies that raised significant capital to streamline the security process. One, Clear, found itself attacked at every turn by TSA, and when the government folks weren’t actively undermining them, they were passively aggressively sabotaging Clear’s integration into the passenger workflows.

      They had some ambitious goals, like building a shoe scanner that didn’t require removing them. Around that time I happened to be involved in some work looking at novel chemical trace detection systems, so I was following it pretty closely.

      Now we have a situation where the TSA’s ineffective workflows have caused them to attempt to use passenger pre-registration (“TSApre”) as the method to relieve the load on the (understaffed) screening process.

      Clear, to their credit, has emerged from bankruptcy and re-launched, adding new airports, but despite the fact that Clear’s passengers have both finger and iris scan biometrics on file, as well as pre-screening, TSA still requires that those pax get dumped back into the screening cattle chutes.

  7. The TSA unionized in late 2012. Purely coincidence I’m sure.

  8. What a stunning report this is, no? In other news, sky still blue, amiright?

  9. A new report from the House Homeland Security Committee found that almost half of all Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees allegedly committed some form of misconduct between 2013 and 2015

    I’m surprised the misconduct rate is that low.

    Union slackers.

  10. And people wonder why I would rather rent a car and drive than get on a fucking plane. Haven’t flown since 2001, and I doubt I ever will again.

    1. You are lucky. I have to cover the whole country, so driving is beyond impractical. And for vacations, driving to Mexico or the Caribbean can be a challenge!

      Thankfully it seems like I fly a little less every year.

      1. Vacation? What’s that?

  11. Back in the 80s when I was a teenager I got on a plane with an Estes model rocket in my carry on. After some careful explaining, and showing that the “missile” was nothing more than a paper tube with balsa fins and a plastic nosecone, was I able to get through. Boy were they befuddled. Like they’d never heard of model rocketry.

    If I did that today I would expect to end up in prison.

    1. In the unlikely event that you lived through the encounter.

  12. Almost Half of All TSA Employees Commit Misconduct, New Report Says

    Being a glass-is-almost-half-full guy, I see this as surprisingly good!

  13. I quit my office job and now I am getting paid 92 Dollars hourly. How? I work-over internet! My old work was making me miserable, so I was to try-something different. 2 years after…I can say my life is changed completely for the better! Check it out what i do…

    Go to the web———-> http://www.Aspire-Jobs.com

  14. Breaking on NPR (haven’t seen it anywhere else):

    Lone axe-man attacked train passengers in Germany. 20 injured.

    1. Thank god they have common sense wood chipper regulation there! Think of mayhem and carnage if he had access to one those full auto chippers.

        1. Wife just because booked a trip between Munich and Salzburg. Solo.

          Fuck.

      1. Saddam Hussein would disagree.
        Just ax him sometime.

  15. The person who designed that graphic needs to learn what an actual flow chart is. Or kill themselves.

    Are the arrows supposed to be (imprecisely) indicating relationships between the subitems? Is there another graphic that explains that one, perhaps requiring yet a third graphic to tell me to go fuckmyself?

    1. The moment middle-management discovered flow diagrams, everything went to shit. Whenever I’m at a business presentation, I spend more time trying to understand the diagrams than I do actually processing meaningful information.

      1. That diagram is a fucking masterpiece. I trust the developer received a promotion, or at least a generous bonus.

        1. I particularly like the two sets of arrows, uni- and bi-directional, and the use of checkmarks as bulletpoints. “Related Project Information”, or RPI.

  16. The number of distinct individuals with at least one allegation against them is for a three year period. Without knowing the total number of distinct individuals employed by the TSA over that period, it’s not possible to calculate how the proportion of TSA employees who definitely haven’t been alleged to have committed some form of misconduct.
    Look at it this way- we can be sure of is that over 50% of the workforce have not had an allegation of misconduct brought against them. Rubber glove is half full.

  17. “Majority of TSA employees have clean records, study finds.”

    I corrected it for you, you haters.

  18. We can even create playlists of them so it will be very easy to find our videos which we like. We can also download those videos and can watch them offline. Showbox for pc

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