Congressional Leaders Call for Investigation of TSA Screening Incident in Honolulu

Representatives John Mica (R-FL) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) have requested an IG investigation of the recent TSA security screening incident at Honolulu International Airport that had called for 36 TSA workers to be fired and 12 others to be suspended.

Reps Jon Mica (R-FL) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) have requested an
Inspector General investigation of the recent TSA security screening
incident at Honolulu International Airport. The Associated Press had
previously reported that 36 TSA workers were to be fired and 12 others
suspended after an investigation found that they did not properly screen
baggage at the airport.

KITV 4 News in Honolulu reported shortly after that the workers planned to appeal the firings.

The Mica/Chaffetz investigation request comes in the same week as an
expected announcement on a collective bargaining unit for the nearly
50,000 TSA federal screener force.

Included among Mica and Chaffetz’s request of areas for the Inspector General to investigate are the corrective and disciplinary actions taken
against the almost 50 TSA employees at Honolulu, and a review of the
TSA’s processes to remove non or underperforming security personnel at
the airport and in general.

“Unfortunately the incident at Honolulu Airport is just another
example of what can happen when the nation’s transportation security
agency acts as both the operator and regulator of aviation screening,”
Mica said.  “It is essential that we have a full investigation of this
massive TSA lapse and ensure the nation has the most effective security
system possible.”

“I have long expressed my serious misgivings about the TSA’s
approach to securing an airplane,” said Chaffetz.  “This most recent
incident in Hawaii only magnifies my concerns and highlights the
failures of the TSA.  There is a more effective and efficient way to
handle aviation screening.  I hope and expect this investigation will be
the catalyst for change.”

Chaffetz has indeed questioned the TSA’s practices before. In March, he introduced legislation addressing the TSA’s whole body imaging scanners over health and privacy concerns.

Mica believes the federal screening model should be dropped in favor
of a private screening process. He said, “By opting out of the
all-federal screening model, airports can benefit from a private
screening force that operates safely, efficiently, and prioritizes
customer service, and TSA can focus on establishing security standards,
setting and enforcing regulations, auditing the security system, and
gathering and analyzing intelligence.”

The request the two Congressmen put forth asks the DHS Acting Inspector General to investigate and provde the following:

  • A complete analysis of the failure of TSA’s oversight and supervision of
    baggage and passenger screening operations, protocols and procedures at HNL.
  • A detailed summary of the security system failure.
  • A review of HNL Transportation Security Officers (TSO) performance indicators, past evaluations, and all performance related disciplinary actions.
  • An examination of whether the initial and recurrent training requirements for TSOs at HNL were current and consistent with national training requirements.
  • The number of individuals involved their title and position, and current wage level.
  • Summary of corrective and disciplinary action.
  • A review of the TSA’s processes to remove non- or underperforming TSO’s in general, and at HNL in particular.
  • A review of the TSA’s plans to staff HNL screening operations until
    permanent TSO replacements can be hired and trained, and if the TSA
    plans to deploy the National Deployment Force, an audit of the total
    cost of such a deployment.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.