Lifestyle & Belief

Airport screener misconduct is increasing: GAO


People wait in line for a security check at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City on Dec. 23, 2010.


Spencer Platt

A new report from the Government Accountability Office has found that misconduct is up among Transportation Security Administration workers.

Incidents of misconduct — which range from being late to failing to screen bags properly and leaving weird notes in travelers' luggage — increased 26 percent between 2010 and 2012 to 3,408 incidents, the GAO said.

The biggest problem appears to be lateness or absenteeism, which accounted for about a third of the reported misconduct.

But 25 percent of incidents were categorized as screening failures — including napping on the job — and 10 percent of incidents involved making inappropriate comments or behaving abusively. Some 56 employees were caught stealing.

In a statement, TSA officials denied the agency was in disarray. They said they had the "highest ethical standards" and "zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace."

And a TSA union lawyer told Reuters that the report was "much ado about nothing." The agency has 56,000 employees, David Borer said. "With about 3,000 misconduct allegations a year, that's 600 that involve security or .01 percent involved in security incidents."

But in a hearing Wednesday, John Halinski, TSA’s deputy administrator, told members of the House Committee on Homeland Security that TSA would follow the GAO’s recommendations to improve their process of tracking and reviewing staff misconduct.