TSA announces agreement on enhanced whistleblower protection for security officers

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National Press Release
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WASHINGTON - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today an agreement to provide enhanced whistleblower protection for transportation security officers (TSOs). The memorandum of agreement was signed by TSA and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

Under the agreement, TSOs will be able to appeal whistleblower retaliation complaints to the MSPB. Under the current system, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), an independent, federal investigative and prosecutorial agency, has authority to investigate TSO whistleblower retaliation complaints and recommend that TSA take corrective and/or disciplinary action when warranted. Today's agreement enables TSOs to file an appeal with MSPB after the OSC closes the matter, thus providing an additional layer of protection.

"Transportation security officers are on the frontlines, protecting the traveling public," said TSA Administrator Kip Hawley. "For their sake and the sake of security, this agreement with MSPB provides TSA officers another independent avenue for whistleblower concerns."

The enhanced whistleblower protections continue the trend of major workforce initiatives at TSA. In 2007, TSA began providing full-time health benefits to part-time TSOs. The agency has also instituted pay-for-performance and career progression programs, while offering increased opportunities for TSOs to participate in the decision making process.

TSA security officers protect 2 million passengers a day at more than 450 airports nationwide. Each officer's initial training consists of 65 hours in the classroom and 115 on-the-job. They also receive nearly 200 hours of ongoing training each year.

MSPB has served as a guardian of federal merit system since 1979. It is an independent, quasi-judicial agency in the Executive branch. The board is made up of three members, who review and adjudicate individual employee appeals cases.

For more information, please visit www.tsa.gov.