Committee Releases New TSA Misconduct Report

The threat landscape underscores the need for a capable aviation security workforce to detect and stop nefarious activity

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Majority Staff of the House Homeland Security Committee released a new report entitled, “Misconduct at TSA Threatens the Security of the Flying Public.” This report is the result of a 6-month long joint investigation conducted by Chairman Scott Perry’s (R-PA) Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency and Chairman John Katko’s (R-NY) Subcommittee on Transportation Security.

Subcommittee Chairman Perry: “Growing misconduct across TSA’s ranks and TSA’s lack of accountability is alarming and unacceptable. 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.”

Subcommittee Chairman Katko: “This report comes at a pivotal time for the Transportation Security Administration, which has long been plagued by allegations and instances of employee misconduct from the highest levels of the agency on down to the frontline work force.  Federal employees, particularly those entrusted with the security of the American public, must be held to the highest ethical standards.  While the vast majority of TSA personnel are dedicated, hardworking employees, their work is too often undermined by a lack of management support for those willing to speak out against wrongdoing, as well as fellow employees who abuse the position of trust that has been afforded to them.  I commend Administrator Neffenger for his hard work to right the ship at TSA during his time at the helm, and it is my hope that this report will spur further action to mitigate instances of misconduct at TSA.”

Key Findings:

  • Despite a large bureaucracy designed, in part, to address employee misconduct, TSA data shows that misconduct grew by almost 29% from fiscal year 2013 to 2015.
  • While the number of misconduct allegations has increased over time, TSA has conducted fewer investigations into misconduct and taken fewer disciplinary actions against employees.
  • The ever-evolving threat landscape and increased concern about the insider threat to aviation security underscores the need for a capable aviation security workforce to detect and stop nefarious activity.
  • While we commend Administrator Peter Neffenger for the changes he has made to improve TSA to date, it is unclear whether these changes will be institutionalized as the next Administration begins its term.
  • TSA needs bold reform, led by senior officials with a strong commitment and willingness to change in the face of criticism in order for lasting, positive change to take hold. To improve, significant management reforms at TSA must be made.
  • In this report, we make 17 common-sense recommendations for TSA to implement to get a better handle on employee misconduct.
  • At today’s joint subcommittee hearing entitled, “How Pervasive is Misconduct at TSA?: Examining Findings from a Joint Subcommittee Investigation,” TSA’s Deputy Administrator, Dr. Huban Gowadia, will have an opportunity to explain why employee misconduct has increased over time. We look forward to hearing her outline specific steps TSA plans to take to address employee misconduct.