According to an annual survey administered last year by the non-profit Partnership for Public Service, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was voted as one of the worst places to work in the federal government, ranking 313 out of 320.
TSA employees told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that workers are afraid to speak up about problems at the agency and feel as though they will be unfairly punished, despite promises of protection from TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger.
“You should be alarmed and concerned with these issues, because TSA employees are less likely to report operational security threats or relevant issues out of fear of retaliation,” said Mark Livingston, program manager for TSA’s office of the chief risk officer. “No one who reports issues is safe at TSA.”
Witnesses at Wednesday’s hearing emphasized the agency’s problems stem from a select group of executive leaders who are unqualified and abuse their power but have managed to keep their jobs.
“From 2011 to early 2015, TSA chose, in abundance, unprepared employees to fill key senior leadership vacancies,” said Jay Brainard, federal security director at TSA’s Kansas office of security operations. “Many of these leaders lacked any security experience or had ever worked in a field operation their entire career.”
The whistleblowers said senior managers often use directed reassignments and early retirements to force out disfavored employees.
Livingston told lawmakers he was demoted and lost $10,000 from his annual salary after reporting that a coworker was sexually harassing another employee.
Andrew Rhoades, assistant federal security director for TSA’s office of security operations, said he was abruptly issued a directed reassignment because a supervisor believed he was leaking information to the local press.
Rhoades also said that after he refused to follow orders and racially profile Somali community members, he contacted his administrator and chief counsel, but never heard back.
This is only the latest to tarnish the scandal-ridden agency. It was reported last year that an undercover operation found that the TSA has a 95% failure rate when it comes to identifying contraband – including drugs and weapons – in passengers’ luggage.
The agency already has a negative image because of its blatant disregard for the 4th Amendment, its long lines, naked body scanners, and groping agents.
Moreover, on top of all its ridiculous security theater, there’s nothing to show for it. Ever since the creation of the TSA – an agency which was tasked with protecting Americans from terrorists – it has caught a grand total of zero terrorists. Yet, it treats every passenger as a criminal. Ironically – or not so ironically – the agency was found to have employed 73 people with “links to terrorism.”