Transportation Security Administration’s Efforts to Proactively Address Employee Concerns

Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, OIG 08-62, May 2008

The Transportation Security Administration reports that a stable, mature, and experienced workforce is the most effective tool it has to meet its mission. Despite the value placed on the workforce, employees have expressed their concerns about how the agency operates by historically filing formal complaints at rates higher than other federal agencies of comparable size.

Additionally, Transportation Security Administration employees at some airports have contacted the Congress, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, and the media to report their frustrations with local management’s lack of resolution of ongoing workplace problems. The Transportation Security Administration has taken proactive steps by establishing the Office of the Ombudsman, the Integrated Conflict Management System, and the National Advisory Council to help identify and address its employees’ workplace concerns. Our overall audit objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of these initiatives. Despite the positive steps taken, the Transportation Security Administration could improve its initiatives by establishing more effective internal systems, processes, and controls. Specifically, the agency has not provided sufficient tools and guidance regarding the structures, authorities, and oversight responsibilities of each initiative, and has faced challenges in communicating the details of each to its workforce.

Low employee morale continues to be an issue at some airports, contributing to the Transportation Security Administration’s 17% voluntary attrition rate. More than half of the employees we interviewed described the agency’s efforts to educate them on the various initiatives available to address their workplace concerns as “inadequate.” Accordingly, we are making six recommendations to the Assistant Secretary of the Transportation Security Administration to provide employees with sufficient tools, including clear guidance and better communication, on the structures, authorities, and oversight responsibilities of the initiatives we reviewed. The agency fully or partly concurred with five of the recommendations and has taken action to resolve four, which will remain open until implementation is completed. The agency did not provide sufficient information on its actions reported for one recommendation and did not concur with another. As such, both recommendations remain open and unresolved.
See also:
The Transportation Security Administration’s National Deployment Force

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