A TSA Passenger Advocate. No … I’m Serious ... Really.

Sometimes it’s difficult to choose a lead story for this column.  This time: no contest. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and N.Y state Sen. Michael Gianaris want the TSA to create a passenger advocate position at all airports to immediately act on complaints by passengers over security screenings.  The proposal was in response to several recent claims by elderly women of alleged strip searches, which TSA denies, saying TSA is already planning its own advocacy service.  After ten years of complaints. The TSA plan involves a toll-free telephone hotline for passengers that need help during screening. One flaw, of course, is that the traveler typically doesn’t know there’s a problem until he is standing shoe-less, belt-less, arms akimbo, being herded to secondary while watching the bin with his  laptop, wallet and cell phone to dial that 800 number, moving out of sight.  TSA says it already has customer service managers at most airports to answer questions – anybody ever met one? Or asked to speak to a supervisor?   I didn’t think so. To borrow a catchy phrase from retiring Congressman Barney Frank, wouldn’t this be like adding a fourth Stooge?

Which leads us to the annual ranking from the Partnership for Public Service which ranks most major federal agencies for “Best Places to Work in Federal Government”.  I hasten to add, this is a worker satisfaction survey; it is not intended to suggest the quality of service or effectiveness or competence; it is only about how the employees think about their own agency.  TSA ranks 9th within DHS’s 22 agencies, behind CBP, ICE, and the Secret Service, but edging out the Coast Guard and a collective dozen or so much smaller DHS components.  I suggest it’s instructive to note that TSA’s own self-opinions went down from 2010 in virtually every category, and TSA ranked nearly dead last (again) among all 229 Federal agencies surveyed.  There’s an employee and customer service message in there someplace.


TSA employee satisfaction with….                                 2011    2010         Rank

     Scores               (out of 229 Fed agencies)

Employee Skills/Mission Match                       71.6        72.7        214

Strategic Management                                       46.0        46.2        226

Teamwork                                                            54.7        54.4        223

Effective Leadership                                          41.5        43.6        227

Effective Leadership - Empowerment            33.1         --            226

Effective Leadership - Fairness                        37.7         --            227

Effective Leadership - Leaders                         34.1        --            225

Effective Leadership - Supervisors                  55.0         --            223

Performance Based Advancement                  29.2        32.6        228

Training and Development                                52.8        54.8        197

Support for Diversity                                          49.0        49.7        222

Pay                                                                         35.8        42.2        228

Family Friendly Culture and Benefits             18.4        21.1        228

Work/Life Balance                                             52.1        54.3        219


For those interested in details, see http://bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/rankings/detail/HS10