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Friday, April 12, 2024

GAO: TSA Could Further Improve Officer Engagement

The nearly 50,000 Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) play a crucial role in upholding aviation security by preventing potentially dangerous items from making their way onto airplanes. However, despite the significance of their responsibilities, TSO engagement, which reflects their sense of purpose on the job, has historically ranked among the lowest across the federal government.

Employee engagement is a critical factor influencing innovation, productivity, and commitment on the job. Recognizing this, TSA leadership has identified the need to enhance TSO engagement as central to the agency’s overarching security mission. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has conducted an in-depth review of the key drivers affecting TSO engagement and the extent to which TSA has taken measures to address them.

GAO’s analysis revealed five key drivers influencing TSO engagement: performance management, career development, work-life balance, communication, and responsiveness to input. While TSA has implemented actions to address these drivers, challenges persist, and root causes of dissatisfaction have not been fully identified or tackled.

In addressing concerns related to managing and recognizing performance, TSA initiated a one-hour performance management course for supervisors in 2018 and introduced two performance reward programs in 2021. However, the root causes of dissatisfaction, specifically inconsistent performance management, have not been fully resolved.

For the drivers of career development, work-life balance, and communication, TSA has yet to identify and address the root causes of TSO dissatisfaction. This poses a challenge to implementing corrective actions that effectively tackle the specific challenges associated with each driver.

In terms of demonstrating responsiveness to input, TSA has sought TSO feedback through surveys and initiatives, but follow-through on these initiatives has not been systematically tracked. By monitoring and tracking the implementation of planned steps, TSA can ensure that feedback translates into tangible improvements, ultimately enhancing TSO engagement.

GAO’s review, based on the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results from 2020 through 2023, offers insights into the challenges faced by TSOs. Interviews with a nongeneralizable sample of TSOs, supervisors, and senior leaders at five airports, as well as discussions with employee groups, including the TSO union, provide a comprehensive understanding of the factors influencing TSO engagement.

As TSA continues its mission to safeguard aviation security, addressing the root causes of TSO dissatisfaction and implementing targeted corrective actions will be crucial in fostering a more engaged and committed workforce.

Read the full GAO report here.

author avatar
Matt Seldon
Matt Seldon, BSc., is an Editorial Associate with HSToday. He has over 20 years of experience in writing, social media, and analytics. Matt has a degree in Computer Studies from the University of South Wales in the UK. His diverse work experience includes positions at the Department for Work and Pensions and various responsibilities for a wide variety of companies in the private sector. He has been writing and editing various blogs and online content for promotional and educational purposes in his job roles since first entering the workplace. Matt has run various social media campaigns over his career on platforms including Google, Microsoft, Facebook and LinkedIn on topics surrounding promotion and education. His educational campaigns have been on topics including charity volunteering in the public sector and personal finance goals.
Matt Seldon
Matt Seldon
Matt Seldon, BSc., is an Editorial Associate with HSToday. He has over 20 years of experience in writing, social media, and analytics. Matt has a degree in Computer Studies from the University of South Wales in the UK. His diverse work experience includes positions at the Department for Work and Pensions and various responsibilities for a wide variety of companies in the private sector. He has been writing and editing various blogs and online content for promotional and educational purposes in his job roles since first entering the workplace. Matt has run various social media campaigns over his career on platforms including Google, Microsoft, Facebook and LinkedIn on topics surrounding promotion and education. His educational campaigns have been on topics including charity volunteering in the public sector and personal finance goals.

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