Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Lawmakers to TSA: Keep Your Day Job

ARCHIVES
Chris Nakshima-Brown/AP

The Transportation Security Administration is not known for its sense of humor and some lawmakers would like to keep it that way.

During a hearing Wednesday on rightsizing the agency’s workforce, a House Homeland Security subcommittee chairman questioned the glib tone of some TSA blog posts related to security procedure and recent breaches.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., good-naturedly wondered whether TSA was hurting its already less-than-stellar reputation by dashing off pithy prose on serious subjects. A sampling:

  • “A razor, a small saw blade, and a garrote were detected under a sewn-on patch in a carry-on bag at Norfolk (ORF). Sounds like the beginning of a joke: ‘So, this razor, a saw blade, and a garrote walk into a bar…’”
  • The headline “TSA Says Yes to the Dress” appeared on a post advising brides-to-be on how to successfully bring their wedding dresses through security.

My personal favorite, which sadly, Rogers did not mention at the hearing, included some mysterious contraband found at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, referred to as a “debrainer” by a TSA blogger: “Debrainer: I’m not sure what this is actually called, but I’m sure in the right hands, this implement of death is quite capable of extracting a brain. It’s like brass knuckles on steroids and it was found at Baltimore (BWI). Keep one on hand for the zombie Apocalypse.”

“Y’all see where I’m going with this,” Rogers, said, smiling at the unlucky TSA officials who happened to be testifying.

Cue, awkward silence. Finally TSA’s human capital chief Sean Byrne found his voice and said they’d take it up with public affairs and tell them to um, refine, the agency’s message. When was the last time a government agency got ripped for actually trying to be funny?

In an inspiring moment of bipartisanship, Ranking Member Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, backed up her chairman, asking TSA public affairs “to cease and desist on comedy” related to transportation security. “When you are talking about security, it’s not funny,” she dead-panned.

As a writer whose subject matter is also decidedly un-funny, I can empathize with the TSA public affairs folks.

Kellie Lunney covers federal pay and benefits issues, the budget process and financial management. After starting her career in journalism at Government Executive in 2000, she returned in 2008 after four years at sister publication National Journal writing profiles of influential Washingtonians. In 2006, she received a fellowship at the Ohio State University through the Kiplinger Public Affairs in Journalism program, where she worked on a project that looked at rebuilding affordable housing in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. She has appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, NPR and Feature Story News, where she participated in a weekly radio roundtable on the 2008 presidential campaign. In the late 1990s, she worked at the Housing and Urban Development Department as a career employee. She is a graduate of Colgate University.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

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

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

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

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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