Airport Screeners Not Getting the Training They Need, Says DHS Report

By Matthew Harwood


Training time is also an issue. According to the inspector general, TSA does not provide enough time for screeners to complete their lessons. "TSOs described rushing through course material without devoting the attention needed to retain the lessons," the report states, noting TSA officials agreed with that description.

At one airport, time and staffing constraints led TSA officials to allow screeners to simply sign-off on incomplete printed training materials so they could begin online training sessions sooner. The screeners, according to the report, received credit for the courses "without providing evidence of reading or understanding the information." Other TSOs were simply allowed to bypass online training.

In another incident, the software training exercises didn't match the current security technologies at security checkpoints, after TSA deployed next-generation x-ray machines to 81 airports. TSA  failed to update screeners' recurrent training for the new machines because of software problems, "which limits their ability to identify prohibited items using the current checkpoint equipment," according to the inspector general.

The TSA, however, disagrees with that conclusion, noting in their response to the report that "the basics of x-ray image interpretation will not change" with the deployment of new technologies.

The inspector general also criticizes the TSA for not creating a formal program to select and dispatch on-the-job training monitors to airports to mentor screeners. This has led to airports implementing the on-the-job training program differently. At five of the eight airports the inspector general visited, screeners were provided only one on-the-job training monitor. The remaining three received multiple trainers.

The inspector general concludes the report with four recommendations to ensure TSA develops formal guidance to keep the TSO training program up-to-date and create a learning environment more conducive for training. The TSA agrees with all four, informing the department watchdog that it has already started to address them.

♦ Snapshot of DHS OIG's report cover: "Transportation Security Administration's Management of Its Screening Workforce Training Program Can Be Improved"


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