TSA Must Immediately Suspend Flawed Skills Testing, Says AFGE
(WASHINGTON)— The American Federation of Government Employees today called on TSA to take immediate action after hearing from myriad members at the Transportation Security Administration about unusually high failure rates on the Practical Skills Evaluations portion of the agency’s Performance Accountability and Standards System.
In a letter to TSA acting Administrator Gale Rossides, AFGE urged TSA to suspend the PSE until the tests have been reviewed. AFGE also asked that TSA provide failure rates by airport, that TSA reinstate all TSOs who have been removed because of the failures, and that the failures be cleared from records so that PASS scores and pay are not affected. (AFGE’s letter to Rossides can be found at www.tsaunion.net)
“The PSE failure rate nationwide is alarming—more than 50 percent on the first test and as high as 80 percent at some airports,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “We believe this high failure rate on the first test can be attributed to the change in procedures implemented by TSA last year. On March 31, 2008, the Office of Performance Management and Improvement issued an email that stated ‘PSEs remain in place for PASS 2008. . . [f]or PASS 2009, PSEs will be conducted by regional teams of high performing Security Officers.’”
“In contrast to past years, TSOs never received extra refresher training before the administration of the PSE test,” Gage said. “They did not receive the additional training because the individuals who normally provided the refresher training were receiving training from Lockheed-Martin about administrating the PSEs. It appears as though the officers who were selected to administrator the test received limited training.”
In addition to its letter to TSA, AFGE is sending a letter to House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson to call for an investigation into whether the PSE tests are administered properly, whether the same standards are applied across the country and whether TSOs and testers are trained properly.
“We agree and understand that TSOs must be capable of performing their job duties and TSA has implemented a testing program to ascertain their abilities; however, implementing a testing program that 1) fails to effectively evaluate the TSOs ability to perform their job duties, 2) provides inadequate training for the test administrators and test takers, 3) penalizes TSOs by limiting their ability to obtain a raise or bonus, and 4) results in the removal of long-term employees is a disgrace to TSA and the Department of Homeland Security,” Gage added.
AFGE has been the only union to represent TSA employees since the agency's inception and with more than 11,000 members in 32 Locals across the country, is widely recognized as the TSA union.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 750,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.