Misbehaving TSA Agents Could Be Jeopardizing Security, Report Finds
On average, one in every three TSA agents has been accused of misconduct.
The Department of Homeland Security released a damning report on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Thursday, alleging growing misconduct that is threatening the security of the flying public.
The report cited “seemingly continuous scandals,” among them incidents of federal air marshals using government funds to pay for prostitutes and hotel rooms, officers smuggling everything from marijuana to narcotics and undocumented immigrants through security checkpoints, and inexplicable bonuses.
“Data shows that the misconduct has grown over time,” the report states. Reports of misconduct increased 27 percent from 2010 to 2012, and 29 percent from 2013 to 2015. That's despite new recommendations within the agency to manage and mitigate bad behavior.
In 2015, there were 17,627 allegations of conduct — or put another way, on average one in every three TSA employees was accused of a violation. Offenses ranged from unexcused absences to bribery, large-scale drug smuggling, and even child pornography. So-called “neglect of duty” allegations nearly doubled between 2013 and 2015.
In the report, federal security directors called the negligence “devastating,” as fewer competent agents are available to screen passengers and personal items, exacerbating delays and threatening safety.
To add insult to injury, TSA officials interviewed for the report had no explanation for why misconduct had been mishandled.
“TSA could not explain to Committee staff ... why employees might have a significant number of complaints filed against them, nor why headquarters had not identified or handled these repeat offenders,” the report states.
The report concluded by calling out the “longstanding dysfunction” of the TSA, and listed numerous legislative and agency-specific proposals to stem the surge of bad behavior.
Melanie Lieberman is the Assistant Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.