Screening Out Problems at TSA

Tuesday, October 7, 2003; Page A24

Forgive me for finding irony in Sara Kehaulani Goo's Sept. 26 news story, "GAO Faults Testing of Airport Screeners." In its rush to replace government-employed screeners with private contractors, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) plans to hire yet another contractor to evaluate the skills of federal screeners against those of contracted employees.

While it contends that its "consultant" will cost taxpayers a mere $3 million, TSA already is in hot water with Congress for massive cost overruns in the contract with NCS Pearson Government Solutions, the consulting firm that conducted TSA's hiring. The agency itself is posting a deficit of some $900 million.

Had TSA relied on the Office of Personnel Management to do the hiring, it probably would have avoided the poorly trained supervisors and chaotic recruitment of the rank and file produced by Pearson.

Many of the criticisms contained in the Government Accounting Office report have been expressed by TSA rank-and-file workers, notably those who belong to TSA Local 1 of the American Federation of Government Employees.

Lack of adequate training, poor supervision and even unsafe working conditions are some of the circumstances that drove TSA employees to form Local 1, even though they are barred from bargaining collectively.

If Congress wants to make TSA management accountable, it should intercede to create a full-time, government-employed screener workforce that enjoys the rights accorded all other government employees. The safety of the flying public demands it.


National President

American Federation of

Government Employees


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