Legislation was introduced in the House last week that aims to increase accountability within the Transportation Security Agency by instituting a new review process for agency employees.
The Strengthening Oversight of TSA Employee Misconduct Act (H.R. 1351), introduced by Congressman Scott Perry (R-PA), aims to ensure consistency and accountability throughout the TSA by requiring a senior official to oversee the review of disciplinary actions given in response to misconduct by TSA agents and supervisors.
The reviews will be administered at random to ensure quality control. Under the current system, disciplinary actions against errant employees may vary wildly depending on the local supervisor which Perry says allows for gross misconduct to be overlooked.
Perry introduced the bill in response to an incident that occurred at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport in February. 11 passengers were able to walk through a security checkpoint without being screened when TSA employees left the area unsupervised.
“This is a common sense proposal that puts ineffective bureaucracy in check and helps keep Americans safe,” said Perry. “After continued mismanagement, we must hold our security officials accountable to the American public.”
The TSA has had its share of problems recently.
The agency came under criticism last year for inordinately long lines and wait times at airports all over the country. TSA blamed inadequate levels of staffing and a lack of funding for the long lines.
The PreCheck program was supposed to help cut wait times and get more travelers through security, but came up short with enrollment which led to the longer lines during the peak travel season last year. TSA had cut its staffing levels in anticipation of a greater use of the PreCheck program which fueled the long lines and wait times.
An investigation conducted by the Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security in 2015 found major security holes in TSA’s processes. The agency failed 67 out of 70 tests performed as part of the investigation in which teams were able to get prohibited items past security checkpoints.
Partly as a result of that investigation, the TSA recently announced that it is going to change the way it conducts enhanced “pat-downs” for passengers who are singled out for the additional screening. The agency previously used one of five methods, but will now only use one.
News reports said that air travelers are sure to notice the new procedure as it will be more “personal” than it was in the past, so much so that the agency even notified local law enforcement to expect calls from passengers who may report being subjected to improper screening by the TSA. See TSA Pat-Downs Are About to Get Even More Personal for details.