Audit criticizes TSA screener training

The Transportation Security Administration needs to better prepare airport screeners, in part by standardizing the training process, according to a report from the Homeland Security inspector general's office.

The report comes at a time of increased scrutiny for TSA because of controversy over body scanners in airports and other proposed security measures. Some groups concerned with privacy issues are urging passengers to boycott the scanners during upcoming holiday travel. TSA's process for updating screener training is informal and undocumented, and the agency lacks strong oversight of the program, which includes 40 hours in the classroom and 60 hours of on-the-job instruction.

The IG report said the agency's on-the-job training also needs improvement. While a TSA official "recognized the importance of a standardized, structured on-the-job training program … TSA was unable to provide documentation of the accomplishments" of established work groups to improve the program. TSA also has failed to implement a formal program for selecting and dispatching qualified on-the-job training monitors.

On-the-job instruction also lacked consistency. At some airports included in the audit, one monitor oversaw trainees, while at other airports several monitors helped train new hires. TSA officials acknowledged in the report "the agency did not strategically plan and document … training development from the onset due to the urgent need to initiate operations in the aftermath" of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

TSA also fails to ensure that trainees have enough time to efficiently complete training requirements, the audit said. Trainees reported being rushed through course material and at one unnamed airport, were allowed to skip some online instruction partly because of staffing challenges.

The audit recommended the agency use officer test results to evaluate training program results, assign on-the-job training responsibilities, and evaluate workforce and training needs to ensure officers have the tools and time necessary to complete the requirements.

In its response, TSA agreed with the report's recommendations. The agency said a 2009 multiyear contract for specialized security training will provide a more structured program, including analysis of performance data and coordination of training with technology.

Other steps the agency has taken to improve training include: quarterly work reviews beginning in fiscal 2011 to prioritize training, formalizing on-the-job preparation programs, and ensuring trainees receive sufficient time to complete required training.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.