WASHINGTON – A survey of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees nationwide reflects the belief that air travelers are receiving world-class security and customer service and predictably reveals stresses resulting from the agency's rapid start-up.
"Given the agency's unprecedented growth, it is not surprising that many employees, particularly screeners, have workplace issues that need to be addressed," said Rear Adm. David M. Stone, USN (Ret.), Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for TSA. "I find it gratifying that the voluntary retention rate in screening jobs is about 85 percent, which speaks well of screeners' commitment to protecting the traveling public as well as their confidence that TSA will become a first-rate place to work."
A total of 21,639 employees – or 44 percent of the TSA work force – voluntarily participated in the survey from February 9 to March 23, 2004. The confidential survey consisted of about 160 questions developed by the federal Office of Personnel Management.
In the past year TSA has made major strides in addressing employee concerns by further development of Human Resources programs, providing redress to problems through the offices of Civil Rights and Ombudsman, holding town hall meetings, and giving local federal security directors more authority in such areas as hiring and training. Model Workplace initiatives that include conflict resolution have been started at several airports and a Career Coaching program helps employees at all levels plan their careers. TSA's Online Learning Center offers more than 300 professional development courses and the Employee Assistance Program provides short-term counseling on workplace issues and on personal matters such as finances and fitness.
The survey came during a time of uncertainty for federal screeners, with job security questions being raised as individual airports weigh whether they should apply to return to private contract companies for screening services. Only two months before the survey TSA had met a congressionally mandated reduction in the screener work force, from more than 55,000 employees to 45,000.
"It is critical for TSA to build employee trust and morale by following up on the survey results," said Admiral Stone. "We've already taken numerous steps to improve the working environment and will continue to build on these efforts moving forward."
Overall, 35 percent of employees said they are satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs, while 42 percent said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied and 23 percent were neither.
Fifty-five percent of employees said they agree or strongly agree that TSA is providing world-class security with 28 percent saying they disagree or strongly disagree and 17 percent saying neither. Fifty-seven percent of those responding said TSA provides world-class customer service, with 22 percent disagreeing and 21 percent neutral.
Fifty-one percent of employees said they "perceive our customers are satisfied," with 19 percent disagreeing and 30 percent not taking a position.
Questions about customer orientation, diversity, teamwork, use of resources and supervision drew the most favorable responses. Less favorable results were seen when employees were asked about job security, rewards and recognition, the work environment, and strategic planning.
Created in the wake of 9/11, TSA had only 13 employees in January of 2002 but created the screening force of more than 55,000 in time to meet a congressional deadline for screening all passengers by November 19, 2002 and all checked baggage by the end of that year.