Report: Low pay, morale affecting TSA workforce

A House committee on Tuesday urged the Transportation Security Administration to make the agency a “better place to work,” as a recent report has concluded that low pay and morale on the frontline is affecting U.S. security.

During her opening testimony at the March 21 House Homeland Security Committee, Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), said, “TSA continues to struggle to provide consistent recruitment, retention, and training at federalized airports across the United States, contributing to the agency’s longstanding attrition and morale challenges.”

She contends that the agency also struggles to manage its frontline workforce, noting report findings that concluded workers are unhappy with their compensation and reform is needed.

TSA commissioned a third-party panel to examine the workforce needs at the agency. The panel interviewed transportation security officers, leadership and other stakeholders, in addition to analyzing documents and data provided by TSA that it used to look for trends, corroboration, or potential root causes of identified issues.

“The panel believes the systemic problems with TSO pay may be a major contributor to some of those perceptions, due to the inability of TSOs (even those with exceptional performance ratings) to advance within their pay bands,” the report states, adding, ”Employee perceptions of leadership and organizational fairness may undermine their commitment to stay at TSA.”

It recommended that the agency consider change its current pay-scale structure, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, but not move to the antiquated General Schedule used by other agencies.

“A better course of action is to use existing ATSA flexibility to improve the TSA pay system so that it operates at a level superior to the GS system,” the report said, calling the ATSA, ”an ill-defined service delivery model that relies on contractors with insufficient oversight and inadequate Human Capital Information Technology, poorly trained field staff, and a headquarters human capital office that lacks strategic focus and demonstrates insufficient teamwork.”

TSA said in a press release that it has already begun to implement some of the panel’s recommendations, focusing on two main areas: the hiring and advancement process and human resource information technology.

“The agency must double down on progress made towards improving career progression for frontline personnel and making TSA a better place to work,” Lesko said.

View the full report with recommendations here.

Reader comments

Tue, May 28, 2019

Most TSA folks are great people working hard to keep our nations safety a priority. However there needs to be better screening of potential employees so that they do not hire thugs that steal peoples medications and watches. Also if more security is needed, it is the responsibility of the administrator of TSA and the congress and senate to provide funds. Also this goes for salaries that are in par with other governmental operations. If you low ball salaries you will get very little in return. Of course the congress and senate are bickering about nothing so they ignore what is important to the American people.

Tue, May 28, 2019

Very unfair to say this just happens at TSA, My LEO Agency is horrible, the favoritism and lack of accountability is killing the morale. When you have the slackers and workers complain about the same issues, you know it's not a lie. Get the ineffective leaders out. Start with all of the leaders who are still on CSRS, they have been riding the wave for too long and we need new blood with new ideas. Not the same old same old nonsense that worked 30 years ago. At this rate we are losing all of our good people and they don't care. This is a horrible place to work

Wed, May 22, 2019 Minneapolis/St Paul

I just started with the TSA 8 weeks ago and I have to say they do have very bad morale. They need to send their leadership and Supervisors to training to learn how to learn leadership skills and how to treat others. The way they speak to workers and passengers is uncalled for. I can see why they have so much turnover. The other TSA Officer are also not very friendly to newbies and it makes going to work very hard. I can see why they have the turnover they do. NO amount of $$$ is worth the treatment that is endured. I sure hope they decide to do something real soon.

Wed, May 22, 2019 mm

I don't understand why they slam the GS pay schedule if theirs isn't actually working for their department. I guess it's easier to whine than to look at facts and possibly have to change your mind.

Wed, May 22, 2019 California

It's not just TSA. AOA's here in the bay area, we're getting paid the same as we were 20 years ago.only pay rate we get is cost of living 1% which is nothing. yet everything around us have been increasing, not fair

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