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FY 2023 Budget Request Invests in Transportation Security, Safety and the TSA Workforce

The President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Budget submitted to Congress on March 28 includes $9.70 billion for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is $1.4 billion more than TSA’s FY22 appropriations. 

This funding, once appropriated by Congress, would support critical efforts to modernize TSA’s pay structure to ensure that TSA employees, in particular TSA’s frontline workforce, are paid at a level that is commensurate with their counterparts on the General Schedule pay scale, thereby honoring a commitment made by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The resources identified in the budget also would expand collective bargaining rights for Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) and dedicate more resources to security technology. 

“One of the long-standing challenges at TSA has been the pay gap between TSA’s frontline workforce and their counterparts in the rest of the federal government,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “Equitable compensation and sufficient pay progression support TSA’s ability to meet mission requirements in the recruitment and retention of employees and positively impacts employee morale.”

The funding in the FY23 budget would have a positive impact on all TSA employees – from uniformed officers, federal air marshals, canine handlers and management to administrative and professional employees, as well as security and the passenger experience.   

Out of a total $9.70 billion in funding for TSA, the President’s FY23 Budget specifically includes:

  •   $871 million for additional personnel compensation and benefits, which will ensure TSA employees are paid at a level that is commensurate with their counterparts in other federal agencies, starting as early as January 2023;  
  •   $121 million to cover the cost of pay systems conversion, establish a labor relations support capability to manage expanded labor benefits for TSOs, and continue to support Merit Systems Protection Board appeal rights for TSOs; 
  •   $243 million to increase the TSO workforce by 2,540 positions, which will enable the agency to meet increasing demands of passenger travel volume, while ensuring adherence to passenger wait time expectations and maintaining security effectiveness; 
  •   $105 million for the Checkpoint Property Screening System program and $19 million for On-Person Screening Algorithm Development to improve screening capabilities, which will reliably and efficiently detect new and evolving threats to civil aviation in current property screening technology, while improving passenger experience and wait times; and 
  •   A legislative proposal to terminate TSA’s deficit reduction contributions, which frees up an additional $1.5 billion in existing Passenger Fee collections to offset TSA’s appropriated funding. 

If Congress adopts the budget, TSA’s pay equity plan provides that TSA’s TSO workforce, which has lagged behind its federal counterparts, would see an average 30% increase in base pay and federal air marshals would see an average 20% increase in base pay. Other TSA employees, such as intelligence analysts, canine handlers and non-screener administrative employees at U.S. airports would also see an increase in base pay commensurate with their federal colleagues. 

Mayorkas highlighted the potential TSA pay increase in his comments on Monday, saying It would “bolster critical work to protect the traveling public by ensuring that the TSA workforce will be paid on par with other Federal Government employees”.

“We are grateful for the funding requests in the President’s Budget, but now it is up to Congress to appropriate the funding,” Pekoske said. “Once Congress appropriates this funding, we will work hard to make this effective within 90 days of enactment.” 

The Budget also requests $15.3 billion for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to further secure U.S. borders and ports of entry, including $309 million for modern border security technology.

Meanwhile, DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) would get $89 million to improve and modernize laboratories. This funding would allow S&T to replace and enhance mission-critical equipment, make necessary information technology improvements, and allow DHS to construct the Detection Sciences Testing and Applied Research Center, which would enable the more efficient and effective test and evaluation of threat screening devices and counter homemade explosives to further secure transportation systems and other public venues.

A further $18 million has been proposed for the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking, which investigates traffickers, protects victims, and coordinates DHS-wide anti-trafficking efforts.  

Altogether, the Budget requests a topline of $56.7 billion in discretionary funding for DHS, a $2.9 billion or 5.4 percent increase from the 2021 enacted level.

Transportation safety, as well as security, is also featured in the President’s Budget. In addition to investment in road and bridge infrastructure, the Department of Transportation would receive more than $2.5 billion for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which represents an $857 million increase above the 2021 enacted level. The Federal Aviation Administration would receive $15.2 billion to improve aviation safety, transform the nation’s aviation infrastructure, and improve cybersecurity. Further investment is proposed for critical safety needs in the U.S. rail network and port infrastructure.

Read the full FY 2023 Budget at The White House

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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