Lax Controls on Screeners at Airports

A300Capt

Freight Dawg
February 6, 2004
Report Faults Lax Controls on Screeners at Airports
By PHILIP SHENON

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 — An internal investigation at the Homeland Security
Department has found that hiring of tens of thousands of airport screeners
after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was so haphazard that many
screeners were allowed to remain on duty at security checkpoints for weeks
or months after it had been determined that they had serious criminal
records.
The department's inspector general issued a report on the findings on
Thursday. It said screeners remained on the payroll and retained their
badges even after the findings that they had been convicted on charges as
serious as manslaughter. The department often took weeks or months to
discharge the screeners, the report found.

"Screeners were hired, trained and, in some cases, put to work contrary to
sound personnel practices," the inspector general, Clark Kent Ervin, said in
the report. "We identified many issues that undermined the creation of a
federal screener staff that can ensure the security of commercial air
transportation."

In November 2001, two months after the terror attacks, Congress created the
Transportation Security Administration and directed it to take over
passenger and baggage screening at the nation's airports, replacing private
companies that had been strongly criticized as lax.

By December 2002, the agency had hired 55,600 screeners — too often, the
report found, without adequate checks to determine whether they had criminal
records or failed other employment requirements.

Last year, the agency, now part of the Homeland Security Department, fired
more than 1,900 screeners after background checks found criminal records,
deceptions on applications and other problems.

In a statement, the acting administrator of the Transportation Security
Administration, David M. Stone, said the report "confirms past deficiencies
in T.S.A.'s screener-vetting process and, more importantly, validates the
steps this agency has taken to correct them."

Mr. Stone said that the deficiencies in the background checks involved, by
the agency's calculations, "less than 2 percent of our employees" and that
"T.S.A. has strengthened the hiring procedures that ensure our airport
screeners are second to none."

The inspector general suggested it was not surprising that the hiring was
chaotic, given the extraordinary deadlines to establish a large force of
screeners.

The Transportation Security Administration hired contractors to carry out
much of the background checking on an estimated 1.7 million applicants from
February 2002 to December 2002.

The report said, "While contractors performed the checks and helped T.S.A.
review most results, T.S.A. was responsible for managing the contractors'
work."

The oversight of the contractors was so lax, the report said, that more than
500 boxes of background-check forms and other documents went unprocessed for
months, and in some cases, the agency allowed screeners to work before their
background checks had been completed.

In an interview, Mr. Ervin said that because of inadequate record keeping it
was not easy to determine how often the security agency had let screeners
continue working despite the knowledge of criminal pasts.

He said a spot check by his investigators at one airport — he would not
identify it or its size — found that at least 13 screeners had been hired
who were discovered to have records of criminal convictions or arrests on
charges as serious as manslaughter, rape and burglary.

Twelve of the 13 remained on the payroll and kept their badges for three
months or more after the discovery that they had failed criminal backgrounds
check from fingerprint analyses, Mr. Ervin said, adding that he was startled
by "the fact that people that had criminal backgrounds were allowed to
continue working for any period of time."

The law that created the Transportation Security Administration requires
that screeners undergo background investigations, including checks of
criminal records, and that they have no convictions in the previous 10 years
for any of 28 felonies like forgery, possession of illegal weapons, murder
and espionage.
 

Kristie

Mama Bear....
Staff member
could it be that someone's finally taking on the TSA and homeland security????? say it ain't so!!


good for them! It's about time someone looked into the TSA's practices
 
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