TSA – More Hated than the IRS?

When it comes to hated government bureaucracies, many Americans rank the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) right up there, probably because few enjoy shelling out money from hard-earned paychecks.

TSA Turns 10: A Report Card

TSA: One of ‘Most Disliked’ Agencies

But according to one congressman, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may be giving the Tax Man a run for its money. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee on transportation security says, “Through years of high profile mistakes and poor public communications, TSA has become one of the most disliked agencies in the Federal Government.” He chairs a subcommittee hearing this morning on the agency’s efforts to improve its performance – and reputation.

UPDATE: At the hearing, Rep. Rogers bashed the agency as “bloated and inefficient” and said progress at the TSA is at a snail’s or has gone backwards, and urged TSA Administrator John Pistole to cut his workforce. Pistole shot back that 23% of his officers are military veterans, made no pledges to cut back and said the TSA will continue to try and make airport security “more efficient without compromising security”.

The Grandma Strip Search Controversy

TSA Troubles

Rogers, a longtime critic of the TSA has a derogatory nickname for the security force – he has referred to the TSA as an acronym for Thousands Standing Around. Of greater concern to Rogers though are those so-called high-profile incidents. In recent years, elderly women claimed to have been strip-searched resulting in an apology from the TSA though they deny stripping is ever required. Other incidents involve pat-downs of children as well as alleged criminal activity at Newark. It’s time, said Rogers, for the agency to “clean up its act.”

7 Strangest Things Found by the TSA

Hearing on TSA Efforts to Fix Problems

Today’s hearing on the TSA is expected to feature testimony from security chief John Pistole so he can describe his efforts to “fix” the agency. In fact, there have been numerous efforts to improve the way the TSA handles its airport security responsibilities, including:

  • The PreCheck Program: This allows many flyers the opportunity to get through security more quickly in designated lanes and allows them to keep shoes on
  • Kids 12 and Under: This policy change for children now in place at all airports also allows shoes on and is expected to result in fewer pat-downs
  • Travelers 75 and Older: Similar to policy changes for children but currently available at just a handful of airports
  • New Devices to Reduce Pat-downs: The TSA is seeking designs for a new hand-held device that would reduce the number of pat-downs.

Travelers Don’t Like Pat-downs

Anecdotal evidence suggests that pat-downs, though relatively rare, are the most disliked part of a security checkpoint experience. FareCompare heard from a Los Angeles traveler at LAX this morning who requested anonymity. He said he’d just been given a pat-down and claimed security officers “reached inside my pants.” He did not file any sort of formal complaint.

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Published: June 7, 2012