June 04, 2008
Emily Ryan
(202) 639-6421

At AFGE Urging, TSA Moves to Change Image Testing Policy

(WASHINGTON)-At the urging of the nation’s Transportation Security Administration union, the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, TSA this week made changes to its Image Mastery Assessment Policy. However, those changes are not nearly adequate and TSA must continue to modify this policy, AFGE National President John Gage said.

In a strongly-worded letter to TSA Administrator Kip Hawley, AFGE National President John Gage took issue with the practice of IMA testing procedures that are not aligned with actual TSA screening policy. This issue was highlighted when TSOs at DTW contacted AFGE to report massive failures by test-takers after being “trained” for the new IMA test. Failing an IMA three times may be grounds for termination.

Senior management at DTW acknowledged to AFGE that they were concerned with the testing process and with the welfare of the DTW employees. Hawley also admitted earlier this year that the IMA test was flawed, stating in a March 25 e-mail to TSOs that “the image tests will be reformed. We recognize that you are trained and tested on different standards and that those standards do not reflect how you do your job.” TSA on June 2 issued a memo to TSOs stating that it had changed the IMA policy.

“We are gratified that TSA heard the concerns that AFGE brought to their attention on behalf of our TSO membership, but its attempt at modifying this unfair and frankly absurd policy falls way short,” Gage said. “Even with the changes, the IMA policy remains subjective and continues to place TSOs at the mercy of a clearly unfair testing policy.”

Key among AFGE’s concerns about the policy changes are that it:
  • Doesn’t address that TSOs are trained and tested on different images
  • Doesn’t adequately address training issues
  • Still counts failures under the old inadequate training and testing protocol
  • Gives discretion to Federal Security Directors to retain and retrain
  • Still facilitates different standards at airports and allows FSDs to pick and choose which TSOs will be allowed to keep their jobs

“This is a good first step, but there is a long way to go before this policy conforms to any type of reasonable and unbiased standard,” Gage added. “As it stands, the IMA test is by no means a ‘valid and reliable measure’ of a TSO’s proficiency, as TSA claims it to be. The testing of TSOs is important and imperative to the security of the nation, and AFGE will continue to work with TSA to ensure it is done in a fair and just manner.”

Click here to view the AFGE letter to TSA
Click here to view the TSA IMA Policy Changes

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