11.9.01

GAO Report on Increase in TSA Misconduct

In Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on July 31, 2013 at 7:32 am

From CNN

A new government report says misconduct by Transportation Security Administration workers has increased more than 26% in the last three years.

Some of the most serious violations include: Employees sleeping on the job, letting family and friends go without being screened, leaving work without permission and stealing.

The Government Accountability Office report released this week says more than 9,000 cases of misconduct were documented over a three-year span.

More than 1,900 of the incidents were deemed significant enough to be possible security threats.

“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,” said Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican and longtime critic of the TSA who ordered the audit.

The report also details thefts by 56 screeners.

Former TSA employees Persad Coumar and Davon Webb pleaded guilty last year to stealing $40,000 from a checked bag at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.

In 2011, Officer Al Raimi, 29, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Newark. He admitted that for nearly a year, he stole between $10,000 and $30,000 in cash from travelers as they passed through a security checkpoint at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

Raimi admitted that he would “kick up” some of that money to a supervisor, who in turn allowed him to keep stealing. The supervisor, Michael Arato, also pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks and bribes.

Union: Majority doing great job

Still, the union representing the screeners argues that the numbers show a majority of them are doing a great job.

“If you look at a population the size of a small city — 56,000 people in this work force — and the numbers then on an annual basis are then really, really small,” said David Borer of the American Federation of Government Employees.

But Mica isn’t buying it.

“Why are there so many cases and, then, what is TSA doing about that?” he asks. “The report says they can’t really get a handle on it. That raises a lot of issues.”

Recommendations

The government report calls on the TSA to improve how they monitor allegations of misconduct and how they follow up after investigations.

The TSA told CNN it is “already working to implement” the recommendations.

 

From the Washington Post

The Transportation Security Administration is inconsistent in disciplining workers accused of misconduct, penalizing some with little evidence while not imposing minimum sanctions on others, an audit concluded.

Half of the workers accused of sleeping on the job received less than the lowest penalty called for by agency policies, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Tuesday. The House Homeland Security Committee is holding a hearing Wednesday on how the agency disciplines employees.

TSA agents were accused of taking bribes from drug traffickers in Los Angeles last year. Another officer, later fired, was shown on ABC News denying that he had a stolen iPad when its alarm was beeping inside his house. As of September, the agency had fired 381 employees for stealing since 2003.

“TSA plays fast and loose with its use of recommended penalties for misconduct,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), chairman of the Oversight committee on management efficiency, said in a statement. “These findings show why many Americans have lost respect for the agency protecting our airports.”

The agency has stopped short of suspending or firing agents caught sleeping, Duncan said. TSA also has limited punishment of some officers accused of stealing to a letter of reprimand, he said.

The agency also is failing to review cases of alleged serious misconduct, including allowing people to bypass screening, the GAO said.

TSA has processed 56 cases alleging theft since 2010, the GAO said. That included a 2011 incident involving a screener at Orlando International Airport who pleaded guilty to stealing more than 80 laptops and other electronic devices valued at $80,000, the agency said.

From 2011 through June, TSA’s appeals board reduced or overturned 125 of 836 disciplinary cases because charges hadn’t been proved by a preponderance of the evidence. In 34 of those cases, the agency’s adjudicating officer hadn’t considered mitigating factors, the GAO said.

About one-third of allegations made against TSA employees in 9,622 cases investigated between 2010 and 2012 involved attendance and leave issues, such as unexcused absences or tardiness, the GAO said. There were 426 cases of neglect of duty and 384 cases of ethical violations such as bribery and credit-card abuse.

Asked about reports of theft last year, TSA Administrator John S. Pistole said the agency uses closed-circuit cameras in checked-baggage areas to deter stealing and to rebut false accusations. In cases where the video shows that thefts occurred, the agency fires the individuals and seeks criminal prosecutions, he said.

TSA spokesman David Castelveter said he couldn’t comment on the report or the lawmakers’ comments.

More than a decade into its history, TSA isn’t ensuring employee misconduct cases are being handled consistently and fairly, said Rep. Bennie Thompson(D-Miss.).

“Failing to do so leaves TSA vulnerable to claims that punishment for misconduct could be tainted by influences beyond the facts,” he said in a statement.

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