The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

What’s Longer: TSA Lines or TSA Employee Retention?

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


This month, CAGW named Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson June’s Porker of the Month. The decision was a no-brainer, as he is the man behind the “nightmarish” Transportation Security Administration (TSA) lines across the country. While the agency claims things are getting better, there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

As TSA’s mismanagement causes thousands of passengers to wait in insanely long lines and miss their flights in many cases, they have no problem keeping one thing short: employee retention. On May 30, 2015, then-acting head of TSA, Melvin Carraway, was reassigned to another part of DHS for TSA’s failure to pass 95% of airport security tests. He was replaced with Deputy Director Mark Hatfield, who only lasted until November 2015 until he was also reassigned and replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Pete Neffenger.

As the acting head of TSA, Pete Neffenger has a duty to taxpayers and the flying public to correct the rampant problems at TSA. However, since November, Neffenger has struggled to fix the flailing agency. For example, why did he award $90,000 in bonuses to Kelly Hoggan, TSA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Security Operations, when TSA was dogged with issues? Hoggan resigned on May 24, 2016, after coming under extreme congressional scrutiny.

Not only is Neffenger not correcting TSA’s problems, he’s losing top level employees faster than a plane takes off. After Hoggan’s debacle, Kathleen Petrowsky, the head of TSA in Chicago announced her retirement on June 28, 2016. Petrwosky was at the helm of the famously horrific long lines at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Even before these resignations, senators were calling for Neffenger’s dismissal. If he can’t reduce wait-times at airports and better manage his agency, those lawmakers might be right.

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