Airport Screeners Not Meeting Training Requirements

The lack of high-speed Internet connectivity and staff shortages have prevented thousands of airport security screeners from getting the training they need.

Despite the creation of several training initiatives by the Transportation Security Administration, a lack of high-speed Internet connectivity and staff shortages have prevented thousands of airport screeners from getting the training they need to better detect guns and explosives.

TSA recently established a recurrent training requirement and introduced its Online Learning Center, which makes self-guided training courses available over TSA’s intranet and the Internet. However, federal security directors reported that staffing shortages and a lack of high-speed Internet/intranet connectivity at training facilities hampered training efforts. As a result, many screeners failed to meet the recurrent training requirement of three hours per week, averaged over a quarter year, within regular duty hours.

A Government Accountability Office study revealed that TSA is taking steps to address some of these challenges, including factoring training into workforce planning efforts and offering training through written materials and CD-ROMs. However, GAO reported that TSA has not established a plan prioritizing the deployment of high-speed Internet/intranet connectivity to all airport training facilities to facilitate screener access to training materials. Furthermore, GAO said TSA policy does not clearly specify the responsibility for ensuring that screeners have completed all required training.

“In addition, TSA officials have no formal policies or methods for monitoring the completion of required training and were unableto provide documentation identifying the completion of remedial training,” according to GAO.

“We also found that TSA’s efforts to measure and enhance screener performance have primarily focused on passenger screening, not checked baggage screening. For example, TSA only uses threat image software on passenger screening X-ray machines, and the recertification testing program does not include an image recognition module for checked baggage screeners,” GAO stated.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is recommending that the Secretary of Homeland Security direct TSA to develop a plan for completing the deployment of high-speed connectivity at airport training facilities, and establish and communicate appropriate internal controls for monitoring the completion of training.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47