Skip to main content

tv   House Homeland Security Hearing on TSA Workforce  CSPAN  May 25, 2019 6:34am-8:00am EDT

6:34 am
6:35 am
>> good morning everyone. the subcommittee and transportation comes to order. the committee is meeting today to receive testimony on that he say workforce crisis on homeland security risk. i want to think every team member in the panel of witnesses for joining today. today's hearing will discuss the challenges of tsa, the workforce and the impact of national security mission. we are very aware of the threats facing our country and our transportation system, other threat actors continue to cart under target crowded airports and mass transit hubs, air
6:36 am
carriers, with an ultimate goal of taking down one of her airplanes. tsa has no failsafe mission, a single bomber wiping slipping through a security to be used devastating effects. transportation officers or tso's work on the frontline of our country's main defenders against these threats. their jobs are truly difficult as they much work to a needle in a haystack and overstock bags, patdown. later passengers are very comfortable areas and keep pace with the evolving policy and technology all was serving as the face of government to sometimes uncooperative passengers. ensuring the tsa hires trains in professional workers should be one of the department of
6:37 am
homeland security top-rated. unfortunately the ministration has placed a boarding tsa workforce on the back burner. president has prioritized the border wall of oliver homeland security missions, threatening to undermine the security of the traveling public and just recently we learned that the administration is sending tsa employees including tso's to the southwest border just as a summer travel season is about to begin. tsa workforce is already stretched too thin and cannot afford to subs diversions. tsa is slow and suppression is high. asher the subcomponents purveyed, tsa cayman, 410th or last when it came to employees satisfaction, we cannot business
6:38 am
away. tso's are among the lowest paid workers in government and we saw during the recent shutdown the many live paycheck to paycheck. let me repeat, tso's th among te lowest paid in government and among the shut down many lived paycheck to paycheck. tso's also lack protection such as bargaining rights, and the ability to appeal disciplinary action to an independent third party. this is no way to run a national security agency. tsa administrator, david koski has attempted to address these challenges by creating a your progression plan by tso's but more speed on. unfortunately in response to my question other subcommittee recent hearing last month
6:39 am
administrator because he refused to commit working with tsa unions with the bargaining agreement expires in december. tsa is limited to scope inadequate to meet the needs of the workforce. refusing to advance even the status quo would amount to a counterproductive attack on labor. i hope administrator will decide to continue to allowed a unionized workforce. the tsa administration must recognize the need to address tsa workforce challenges as tsa rates threatened the pay of hiring rate. in 2016 and 2017 tsa higher more than 19300 tso's yet lost more than 15500 tso's.
6:40 am
if those members move slightly in the wrong direction we could see a dwindling tso workforce even as passenger volume continues to increase. already lines in front of tsa checkpoints enter airport terminals, hindering airport operations and grading security vulnerabilities, airport security must be a priority. i'm looking forward to hearing from her witnesses today about the scope of problems facing tsa and the recommendation you may have to address them. let me say to all of our tsa workers, during the shutdown you all showed up after day without him paid, you kept our airlines, planes, passengers safe. thank you very much. now i would like to recognize ranking member with the subcommittee, the gentle lady from arizona, for an opening statement. >> thank you mr. chairman. for those of you that don't know
6:41 am
today is the 100th anniversary of the date that the u.s. house of representatives passed the 19th amendment. hence were all wearing the lower as is to celebrate that. thank you, mr. chairman. i am pleased that the subcommittee is holding this hearing today on important challenges facing the transportation security administration workforce. we serve on the frontline protecting the traveling public from ever present threats to transportation security. i think tsa employees for their dedication to protecting the nation and our people. as identified in a recent report released by the homeland security office by inspector general, tsa continues to struggle to provide consistent recruitment, protection and training at federalized airport across united states. intruding to the agencies long
6:42 am
standing attrition and morale challenges. tsa continues to struggle managing its frontline workforce who are so critical in protecting the public. the tsa workforce has a demanding more from job. it is truly the most important part of the agency. as american economy continues to grow, and employment has reached a 50 year low, americans have more job options, that's a credit of label market and it will only add additional challenges to tsa efforts to retain personnel. the agency must double them in progress made towards improving career and frontline personnel. in making tsa a better place to work. one possible solution, an alternative is for more airports to continue participating in a screening partnership program otherwise known as spp, this
6:43 am
program offers airports the opportunity to move from a federalized that was still overseen by tsa is managed by private companies who may be better able to have flexibility for staffing needs. notably, during the month long government shutdown earlier this year obviously the shutdown was terrible and i wish the tsa screeners would've been paid i think i even cosponsored a bill to do so. to be clear, federal tsa screeners should not have been put in such as position as a federal shutdown of congress failed to fund the government however, airports who are concerned by workforce impacts stemming from washington they wish to consider participation in cpp.
6:44 am
simply because it is not federal employees. i believe this is false and misleading narrative and it fails to take into account the s tpp airports use the same equipment and same grading procedures at federalized airport that overseen locally by tsa officials. i am hopeful that congress can work in a bipartisan manner to ensure the agency is adequately stocked. tsa should take into account the result of a recently completed blue ribbon commission panel on addressing workforce needs which cautioned against moving tsa personnel under title v. rather this report recommends tsa explore wholesale rethinking of its pay scale structure and move even further away from a title v model to exercise existing authority and improve screening pay performance and
6:45 am
morale. recently over 100 tsa personnel mostly from the federal air marshal service volunteered in response to a dhs solicitation to help food through the custom and border protection along our southern border. while the title of this hearing represents a perceived crisis within the tsa workforce i am mindful of the very real crisis facing dhs personnel along the border and i'm grateful to the service of tsa personnel who volunteered to help the dhs colleagues in the vital omen security mission. this move underscored more than just the crisis of the border, it also underscores the dedication of our dhs men and women to their homeland security mission. that is why we hear in congress, must act together to provide the
6:46 am
necessary resources and oversight to ensure the tsa workforce is equipped for the challenges of today and the challenges of tomorrow. i looking forward to hearing from all the witnesses today and i think you, mr. chairman and i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you very much. i am fitting in the place of mst an judiciary on a small matter but he will return. in the absence of the chair i will be here -- i would also like to think her witnesses. i have a number of issues associated with this hearing but i would like to say to her tso's, i want to think for working in trying conditions like not getting paid like the ranking member talked about, and
6:47 am
somehow we still cannot get input on the gsa schedule like most of the federal employees and collective bargaining which is clearly something that is near india to employees who decide that they want representation. i am looking forward to the comments from eyewitnesses as well as, unconcerned about the opium ratings felt somehow put tsa at the bottom every year in terms of morale and other things that some of us believe that they are some things that we could do as congress to make things better. i look forward to hearing your testimony. i would like to welcome our panel of witnesses. first witness, mr. john lee
6:48 am
keller joined the inspector general in 2018 and was appointed deputy inspector general in june 2016. our next witness is j david cox the national president of the american federation of government employees. the largest union representing federal employees in the district of columbia. mr. cox was first elected president in august 2012 and was reelected to his third year term in august 2018. lance little, our third witness is managing director of the seattle a coma international airport at the port of seattle prior to joining the port mr. little was a chief operating officer of houston three airports and an assistant general manager and hartsfield jackson and alanna. our fourth witness, mr. jeffrey neil has served as senior vice president at international icf
6:49 am
international in 2011. mr. neil previously served as chief human capital officer dhs and chief human capital officer at the defense logistics agency, without objection there. will be inserted in the record. i now ask each witnesses summaries his or her statement first five minutes beginning with mr. keller. >> chairman, and ranking member and members of the subcommittee. thank you for inviting me to discuss tsa colleges with security officer workforce. at the end of fiscal year 2017. tsa had about 61000 employees. more than half of which are entry-level security officers. tsa relies on security offices to safeguard the traveling public. identifying prohibited items and preventing those items from getting on aircraft.
6:50 am
we previously reported in our covert testing and other reports on the importance of security officers, we believe security officers inattention and challenges contribute to airport security witnesses. human performance and judgment are critical factors in protecting against hers. hiring, training and retaining a qualified workforce is critical to secure our airports. our audit report identifies three basic problems. first, tsa does not always ensure it hires the most qualified security officers. while tsa test applicants, tsa could enhance his testing by including personality and practice test and determine whether the applicant is civil for the job. tsa is to improve security officers, the interview process by allowing interviewers to exclude and advocate if they believe the applicant is not a
6:51 am
good fit and also including questions the applicant's ability to perform the security officer duties. second, training deficiencies may lead to security risks if new or inexperienced security officers are not adequately trained, air travelers safety. before we initiated the most recent audit tsa did not have a standardize report to train new security officers. this could cause a significant problem because tsa does not immediately send security offices to basic training. tsa exacerbated this problem by not giving all airport training managers visibility into the basic training. the third problem is, tsa does not train all resources to retain security officers. tsa reports is roughly the government average of 70%. however, tsa voluntary rate of
6:52 am
14% exceeds the government voluntary rate of 11%. further larger portion of security officers are part-time employees whom have a 26% nutrition. this inability to retain security officers has a financial and insecurity impact. in fiscal year 2017, tsa spends $75 million to hire and train over 9000 new security officers. roughly 20% of which left within six months of being hired. smaller airports have the highest nutrition rates. this is acutely dangerous because small airports may only have a handful of security officers and their loss is more difficult to manage. security officers a small airports leave because of limited growth opportunities and scheduling challenges.
6:53 am
tsa is taking some actions to retain security offices but it is not used all available resources. for example, tsa airport officials do not consistently conduct exit interviews and when they do conduct exit interviews it is not always sure the results of airport officials. in addition, it has an impact on tsa ability to retain security officers. some airports have difficulty competing with local employers, rural data shows the higher airports, tsa's of praise security officers 30% below the local per capita income. improving retention efforts can improve security and to save taxpayer dollars. in summary, given the security officers role in sharing donations aviation security, tsa must hire highly qualified applicants who are well trained and motivated to remain for long-term career.
6:54 am
by improving hiring intentional policies, tsa can maintain a fully capable inexperienced security officer workforce and realize cost savings. i am happy to report that tsa concurred with all nine recommendations in a statement sent to implement some of the recommendations posed free of those. mr. chairman, this concludes my testimony and am happy to answer questions you are members of the subcommittee may have. >> thank you for your testimony. i know i asked mr. cox to summarize his statement for five minutes. >> think it was determined and ranking member and the members of the committee. and a special thanks to you chairman thompson for introducing hr 1140, the bill to provide title v protection to the tso workforce. i asked each member to cosponsor for the legislation. the best way to describe the status of the transportation security officer workforce
6:55 am
separate and unequal. among the collies and the rest of dhs and log their colleagues tso's are excluded from the due process right for the bargaining rights, pay system and other personnel rules under title v. from its inception, tsa implemented two different personnel systems, one for tso's and one for the rest of tsa workforce based on the faa personal system that applies to title v. as time passes, memory fades. too many people forget that the 9/11 terror exploited her week or sign a defense, airport security screening. tsa management comes very close to reproducing 9/11 conditions for airport security screeners, that is the need for change is so urgent. there are two categories of
6:56 am
change that need to be addressed pay and labor rights the average starting salary are too low, just 35000 per year, less than $17 an hour. here in the first two years, they are stuck. the reward for top performance are pitifully small, the two highest performance ratings, four and five to ever-changing criteria, earned you only a 1% salary bump or a bonus that did not go into your base the performance rating was a three described as achieving expectation that you get nothing. i tell you what impact this has on employee moral, the loyal tso's the king to work safely for the 35 to shut down and this is the way tsa pay system treats them. it's made and breaks its own rules for tso's.
6:57 am
airport checkpoints of the systems of the individual tsa managers so much so that there is little consistency between checkpoints let alone airports. last year tsa modified a table of penalties in a way that monday misunderstands a concept of discipline. progressive discipline is imposed to increase penalties for misconduct in tsa, one-party is a strict one. an unrelated uniform violation is strict too. and it gets a tso or serious disciplinary action that can lead to termination. each disciplinary action based on a personal file for at least two years, the penalty for this is no transfer to another airport and disqualification from career progression and disqualifies with tso from eligibility to the 1% performance rate of the bonus pay trainers.
6:58 am
when little things have such harsh consequences and perfection has such small reward, it is clear that the system is in need of a change. single disciplinary action of a tso career for at least two long years. and of course, tso's of almost no ability to clear the record to cause a real grievance and arbitration process in the collective bargaining agreement and they have no recourse to dms pb, diminished trader has not yet committed to another round of collective bargaining with the current contract expires. please be aware that the only progress that has been made in the area of labor relations of tsa has come at the bargaining table. tsa should not have the discretion under the law to refuse to bargain, that is another reason tso's knee coverage under title v. so for all of these reasons we ask for legislation that grants
6:59 am
tso folk coverage under title v, full for class status under the law for full rights in the fair paces of the other employees of tsa, dhs and the rest of the federal government half. this concludes my statement and i'll be glad to take questions at the end. >> thank you for your testimony. i now recognize mr. little to summarize his statement for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman thompson, chairman and ranking member and members of the subcommittee. it is an honor to testify today. it serves on the hottest economy in the country which has made the eighth biggest airport in the u.s. this increase in passengers at the capacity of report inner security checkpoints. one of her top priorities is efficient security screening of passengers, we want to avoid a large group of travelers on the public side of the airport which is a customer service insecurity
7:00 am
issue. that stretch to the terminal over the skybridge is and into the parking garage compromise our ability to ensure public safety. yet we see this so often. even before the summer because just began including this weekend. the ability of tsa to hire a staff is a major contributor to this challenge. in my time at seatac, tsa has never had the staff to open every screen this is because it is difficult for tsa to attract and retain workers. in the last that he found between 2012 and 2016, tsa hired 868 tsa but lost 772. which is an attrition rate of 90%. in the last two months approximately 82 of lost for 80f the doctrine the 15 going minimum-wage and robust economy
7:01 am
means someone could choose between working in entry-level jobs or protecting our nation aviation security. recent news of potential staff at the u.s. of a brother and all airports are very concerned. significant diversion of tsa would reduce tsa ability to open all security lanes during morning peak this summer which could result in lines to the parking garage as often as four to five days a week. before go further, i want to share our appreciation for our local during the recent government shutdown. the dedication in which they came to work every day was unsparing. we are grateful for the proportionality during an incredibly stressful time. i also want to record nice tsa leadership has been very engaged with us. for simple, tsa is approved a temporary increase in which seatac. in a now start more than $20 per hour. tsa has also promised 50
7:02 am
national deployment cases by the summer. the most effective way for tsa to remain fully staffed other airport is increase retention rates. not only is it expensive to hire but it could take months for a new officer to be certified to perform all functions. turnover rate decrease cycle time recruitment and training will lead to more efficient and effective tso's. this is especially urgent because changes to tso passenger screening have significantly reduced used in an weekend. tecumseh, they have had to make significant investment of their own money including staff and nonregulatory tsa functions which we cannot afford to continue indefinitely. let me close by saying, i do not have all the solutions to the
7:03 am
challenges the tsa faces in hiring and retention, i can't say however, the higher compensation is an important part of the puzzle because our own security screeners who staff checkpoint with airport employees start at $21.71 and we are very little turnover in those jobs. our vision is award classic security and customer experience. we do not want travelers stuck waiting in security lines and we do not want large groups on the public side of the airport creating potential soft targets. sufficient staffing is essential to achieve those goals. i look forward to working with you to achieve them. thank you again for the opportunity today and i look forward for any questions that you may have. >> thank you for your testimony. i now recognize mr. neil to summarize his statement for five minutes. >> good morning chairman thompson, ranking member lesko in the subcommittee. i'm honored to appear before the subcommittee to discuss the work of the reliving panel in the signing and the recommendations. the panel was chartered by tsa the director a minister of other
7:04 am
pretty review as tsa human capital operate stations. we also asked a wee examined cubital policy for the security office work for spring other members of the panel in director dan butler, former partnership for public service vice president john and nobody did labor lawyer bassi. we conducted a series of interviews, 36 focus groups of tso's and analyze survey results reports and other data. our findings were in two areas, two major areas. the support for the tso workforce and human capital service line. tso's identify multiple drivers of morale problems and turnover including perceptions of favoritism and promotion and work assignments, and adequate pay and challenging working conditions. most significant was pay. the panel found tso pay was competitive at some airports and not others. it is a turnover during the first two to three years and performance management and pay
7:05 am
policy had in a band tso with an outstanding performance rating could take 30 years to reach the top of the paving. the panel made multiple recommendations regarding pay, pay band progression, use promotion boards to provide transversely and promotions, establishing a new tso with higher pay bands and use of productive modeling to the effective pays of turnover. human capital and for structure, human capital services provided by a mix of capital airport staff in three major contractors. the panel found that there's much more to define and correlate the worker of those groups. some areas of classification and overwhelming workload aggravated by their own policy decisions. we found the destroying of human capital to create inefficiencies to make errors more likely inquiry requires significant
7:06 am
work around for labor hours. the field hr staff we interviewed were also striving to deliver good service but did not have consistent hr training and were not always permanently assigned teacher. a recommendations who arrest the situation including permanent assignment, standard job descriptions, better training and aligning the jobs with tsa new human capital business partner systems. we ensure this will have a stronger field and hr staff to meet the needs of tso's. we interviewed project leaders from the firms providing hr services to report some of the same it problems as federal staff amplified by the lack of integrator for the three major contracts. each term offered adia for improving services. the panel made several recommendations for improvements to the 270 day tso hiring process. the lag between applying and beginning work causes many applicants to drop out as does technology supporting hiring. for example, the panel learned that many applicants attended
7:07 am
recruiting events did so because they were unable to applied via usa jobs. tsa flexibility should enable it to make improvement to the hiring process. finally, the panel heard many suggestions to tsa transition to the general schedule. for pay and hiring problems. we share concerns for tso pay but believe the general schedule will not solve the problems. most government organizations of recommended replacing it with a system that is better suited for today's workforce prayed transitioning the tso workforce to the general schedule to also have unintended consequent this and result in pay raises and locations where they are not needed in an adequate pay raises and locations where they are very badly needed. no guarantee for general schedule would even result that would increase overall pay. the panel believes the most effective way to move quickly to solve tso pay is to see labor
7:08 am
dollars and use tsa flexibility sprayed thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today, and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much gentleman i recognize myself or for questions. for national president mr. cox, the bargaining unit is set to expire in december this year, the administrator because they at the last committee refused to commit to continue to allow collective bargaining at tsa and it tells what the advantages, what are the benefits of collective bargaining to tso workforce? >> part of it i believe, it will allow in congress passed the collective bargaining is in the public interest and the public is best served by collective bargaining in the tso workforce,
7:09 am
labor and management set down and bargain over things such as uniform allowances, parking subsidy, overscheduled changes, the posting of annual leave, many positions and things of that nature that they bargain over. however, in tsa we have a very amended scope of bargaining but we did not have a full procedure or arbitration procedure, we don't have the ability to go to msp be in granting full collective bargaining rights would treat them like all other federal employees. >> her comment earlier that we have a very competitive labor market at the moment, we have high turnover, tsa a lot of our line employees seem to move in and out in the collective bargaining and organize labor in the representation, do you bring
7:10 am
a different perspective in terms of how to crowd a package of benefit see salary to be competitive enough to keep the workforce stable? >> clearly, i think wages have got to be raised, i've heard that from every panelist here the tso's are paid -- i think if you ask anybody, any of us, wages have to be raised. >> pay is affecting. >> i think the turnover is unbelievable and to me it's scary when you need to have a trained workforce that can do the job year after year, not have to train a new entrance into the workforce year after year. so my question is, are you able to calibrate, are you able to give management input so we can reduce workforce turnover? >> yes or, i believe i have a negotiated agreements procedure, the right to go to a third party
7:11 am
to resolve disputes, the ability to have. collective bargaining the all other federal please have those like the other employees in homeland security, border patrol, ice agents, coast guard, federal protective services, customs, all of those have full title v collective bargaining rights, treat them like full u.s. citizens like other government employee and i believe you will see less turnover, you will see morale improved and that was certainly help -- >> i'm gonna cut you off. i'm going to shift to mr. kelly. saving taxpayer dollars. how does a stable workforce save taxpayer dollars, how much do you think was wasted over the fiscal year 2016, 2017, over attrition, every time you hire 70 is the cost. every time you train somebody there's a cost.
7:12 am
can you talk on the issue? >> cost of taxpayers beyond the dangers of security or not. >> chairman, as i mentioned in my opening statement, fiscal year 2017, tsa spent $75 million to hire and train roughly 9000 individuals that they brought on board. >> $75 million. how much is that per new individual that is higher. >> it is cost tsa about $8500 to train and hire someone. >> thank you very much. that being said i'm going to turnover to ms. lasko for five minutes of questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i first question is for mr. neil. thank you for your work on this blue-ribbon panel. as you said in your opening statement and in report he
7:13 am
strongly suggests the tsa not adopt the general schedule and you gave some of the reasons of why. what -- why would he be back? >> the problem with the general schedule it's a very inflexible system, was designed 70 years ago at a time when the federal workforce is primarily clerks. where the variations in pay and various labor markets were note where is extreme as they are now. what happens with the general schedule is you may find that pay raises are not really necessary for some folks in some places, yet because of the mechanical formula of the schedule they would get pay raises. in other places, like new york's great example, jfk, were pay raises are desperately needed. the general schedule would not provide anywhere near the amount of pay that those officers would need to have a living wage.
7:14 am
and so, what we have concluded is that the pay definitely needs to be addressed prayed this is a significant problem for the agency. but the general schedule is too blunt an instrument to do it. and so, the better way we thought was to use the flexible date under abscess to provide. this, we did recommend pay raises rather than supplemental locality raises whether the not actually pay raises but retention incentive, without retention intensive less effective because they can be taken away, where base pay increase cannot. with those too blunt to be effective. and that was a reason we do not recommend going to the general schedule. >> my next question is for mr. kelly. mr. kelly, one of the reasons
7:15 am
that you said there is a great amount of retention among tso's is not only the pay which we have talked about what you said scheduling issues. especially with part-time employees and i think from what i remember it's because part-time employees did you have any recommendations on that particular part of it for tsa and started working on that? [sobbing] we had nine recommendations, to more professionalized workforce. and we had recommendations that address some and i believe they are still working on the recommendations. i'll get back to you as whether or not. >> to give her much. in the report, like you said i thought you did a good job on the report, highlighted serious
7:16 am
inconsistencies, the federalized airport across the country, related to training which we talked about recruitment and exit service, and so, what metrics can the committee look for to see if tsa is actually following your recommendations? what do you think we should look back and when you go back? >> we are considering doing their vacation review on these because this is a local issue is a mention in the very beginning of my comments or statements, there is a link between safety and retention. so we are very concerned with the turnover rate that exist with tso's and people have to realize that this needs to be profession as opposed to part-time job for individuals. if we expect to have a secure traveling public of any
7:17 am
professionals performing at the security checkpoints. >> thinking. back to mr. near. one of the problems if i remember from my readings on my plane right here, long plane ride into d.c., people at the beginning scale, the entry-level did not feel like they were going to be able to move up and get the top salary of the pay did year blue panel have any recommendations on how to address his? >> yes, ma'am we did. we looked at a variety of options and one was providing increases to get people up to the center of the pavement and the other was to provide more higher pay band tso positions, right now tso's are basically demands and we put in a recommendation that would provide for increasing tso
7:18 am
positions, smaller numbers of them all the way up about four or five bands higher than they are right now to provide clear career path for tso's that they do not have right now. >> thank you and i yield back. i went over time. >> thank you ms. lasko and i would like to recognize chairman of homeland security, mr. thompson from the good state of mississippi. >> thank you mr. chairman. for quite a while i looked at this pay system. for the life of me i am having difficult and continuing to listen to the justification of not putting in the gsa system pay scale with all other federal employees happen to be. if it is so good then why can we
7:19 am
not just have one system? that bothers me. mr. keller, are you aware that dual personal system, that tsa operates under. >> they are not under the gs system, understand that, that's correct. >> is a personal system for tso's and another personal system for other people who work in the department. >> yes. >> are you aware of any other agency that has dual personal system? >> i am not sure that there are other agencies that have a situation, we did not look into the mirror lack thereof. >> but you could on general
7:20 am
principle assume that that would be confusing at best? >> it can be confusing, i don't know specifically for what system is best for tso's. >> i understand, i just am still struggling with coming up with dual personal systems for one agency. >> the other issue, we have seen people in management and tsa get $30000 in bonuses. what is it, what is the maximum of tso can get in bonuses. >> most receive $500 and a bonus. if they get a bonus, very few get bonuses. it's a smaller amount. >> that is part of the dual
7:21 am
system so the left administrative critic pulls back to 10000. but that is still a long ways from 500 500 for the frontline people. mr. little, as an airport director, if deployment to the southern border becomes a reality, what does that do for an airport like seatac? and you lose people to that appointment? >> i really understand and appreciate the importance of protecting the southern border and i appreciate the challenges that are being faced in terms of allocation resources but is also equally important to protect the airport in itself as well. we are really struggling up to this weekend in terms of the resources that we have at the
7:22 am
airport in the tso's, we do not have enough officers to mia all the lanes. i have been at the airport three half years and we've never had enough staff to man all the lanes that we have at the airport. just as we can we headlines going over to the skybridge is almost into the grudges. if the tso's rear located somewhere else we will have lines going to the grand prix. >> your testimony to the committee is you already are short help. >> yes. >> if anything that would reduce what you have put you potentially at a greater risk. >> it will make it riskier. >> thank you. has anyone from tsa sat down with you and discuss the possible supplement of tsa personnel of the southern
7:23 am
border? >> not as yet. >> mr. cox, have you had a discussion with anyone in tsa about a strategy for deploying tso's to the border, what they will be doing if they got there, how much they would be paid once they got there and he would pay for? >> no, sir i'm not. the only thing we have heard is what we read in the newspaper and we are exclusive representative of the employees. >> so, your membership roster for tso's is how many? >> we represent about 44000. >> so your testimony of this committee is up 44000 members of afd who will be an active volunteer to your knowledge that no strategist, no communication
7:24 am
whatsoever that is been provided that authorized representatives? >> not to my knowledge. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman, i would like to recognize mr. packo from the good state of new york. >> thank you mr. chairman and i thank you all for being here to get. i want to make an observation. that is this. during this account the tso's acted in by large and extraordinarily circumstances they came to work and that cannot be underscored enough in looking at the whole issue. as after that, every time i have an opportunity to say i do, we asked them to do the impossible day in and day out with very little pay. that is very commendable. especially given the gravity of the responsible lease. without being said, i do want to ask all of you for question, you
7:25 am
all agree that we should try to get better compensation to the tso officers? everyone agreed that? everyone okay. so let's talk about that in a minute. mr. neil, you say that is not the way to go, how do we go there and ensure that we get better pay to institutionalize a quick. >> the first step in getting better pay is through appropriate order dollars for tsa to pay for. based on getting more money than tsa can look at where the money can best be used. what we have found there is a relationship between private-sector security guards and turnover among tso's. were eb on tso's are not paid well. in private security are paid well, airport suffer for high turnover. so we can do modeling which
7:26 am
would show where labor dollars could be applied that would reduce turnover. some of that would be new money but want to get started with that a good chunk of the $70 million a year spent on recruiting and training new employees would be applied to tso pay. i think that's the way to do it. >> thank you mr. cox and mr. kelly. the previous two terms i was chair of tsa subcommittee and during the time is acutely that the turnover is a major problem. it was right around 20%, has not improved at all? in recent time? >> the overall turnover rate is 17% which is close to that, what is really bad the temporary employees, the turnover rate vertebrae employees is 26%. that is basically a quarter of a portion of employees. >> mr. cox, given the fact that
7:27 am
is very persistent and consistent, consistently high, what kind of cost is incurred in the high turnover in training employees and losing them? >> i believe i heard that it cost $7500 to train one employee and all the others going and millions of dollars of process in the year, with a the jusco keeps working for all other federal employees it seems to be tsa is the one that is having the greatest turnover and we have a will that is working on an idea that has a gs pay scale until we can figure out something better. >> the thing that strikes me, if you can say $7500 towards pay by reducing the turnover you're probably much better shape. right now regardless of what we do with title v, i do want to
7:28 am
end on a better note because it is important that we understand that there has been progress made in administrative has an issue and he did do things to try to professionalize the force and give the more in including opening the training center which is been a very good thing. when you are doing your report mr. neil, what are some of the things that you saw the give you hope that are some progress being made in the workforce management and what we need to work on. i know pay is obvious but what else. >> administrative is clearly working on the tso's, that was encouraging. putting into place a mechanism for paying the true demand and eb nts hose that they are doing now is a very positive note. the things that we are looking at that are still not pay issues
7:29 am
are the perception of unfairness and the process. there needs to be transparency there, the motion board so people will understand what it takes to get a promotion and a group of people who is necessarily not the buses deciding whether or not they get promoted. i think that would be hopeful as well. and then making major improvements in the office of human capital to be able to really run a modern and up-to-date human capital. >> thank you for that time. i just want to know, please extend my heartfelt thanks to tso officers and i'm amazed at what they do to try to find the needle in the haystack everyday it's important and we cannot treat them as good as we possibly can. we should treat them as good as we possibly can. think very much i yield back. . . .
7:30 am
>> being with us today is we discussed it very important issue, i also want to thank you for your commitment and your members well-being and taken the time to speak for us today so we can hear directly from you. from the years that i have been a member are on the committee of homeland security, you have consistently spoken about the strain to our tsa officers and shared the long hours they work, often made more difficult due to erratic scheduling practices and spoken of the strain on officers and their families who struggle to get the wages that are so low, much lower than federal employees comparatively speaking. especially when it pertains to
7:31 am
their experience in their duties. i think that is a topic we need to continue to address until we get it right. earlier this month tsa requested that ts owes another employees deploy to the southwest border. i, like many others wonder about the capacity in which they would be supporting custom and border patrol operations. usa today has never reported that the 400 tsa employees will be performing meal preparation, property management, and legal assistance for asylum petitioners. now, having been assigned to the orlando national airport during 9/11, i just cannot believe that would be a proper use of the men and women of the tsa, but i would like to ask you president cox, are these duties commenced rate with specialized training
7:32 am
and experience? >> not to my knowledge. they are trained to do the screening at the airports. to look at the luggage that goes through the screen to identify weapons, liquids, and those type of things. i am not aware of any type of training the law enforcement academy of serving of meals or preparation of meals and those type things. >> these men and women who serve in those various roles, i think we all know on both sides of the aisle that are our most precious resource are the men and women who work for us right, into a very important and critical job. i personally know about the strains of erratic schedules, long hours, unanticipated schedules, and new conditions
7:33 am
being introduced last minute. so, as you have already talked about, if officers are reassigned this just further exacerbates an already overworked and burdens workforce. could you speak on their behalf? on that area? >> clearly it does. i am a registered nurse by profession. so i understand what erratic shifts are in 24 hour day operations. with tsa, because the airlines change flights, there are times that the screeners come in in the morning and maybe some flights have been canceled and they say will please go back home, even though they showed up at 4:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m. come back in at 2:00 p.m. we want you back at 4:00 a.m. the next morning, you can maybe do that one time or two times,
7:34 am
you can't do that on a daily basis because people do need rest, they have child care, they have responsibilities of their family. >> i heard an army general talking about how he may leave an operation and certainly make very critical decisions but in order to make sure that he is doing the right thing in making the right choices he always talked to the men and women on the frontline. i think i heard you say, i believe to the chairman that no one to her knowledge had really sat down and talk to you or any of the supervisors are men and women on the front line of the tsa about reassignments and getting their suggestions and recommendations on how they may be better utilized,. >> you are correct, they have not. >> thank you, very much mr. chairman i yield back.
7:35 am
>> as a child i could never get angry when the coach told me he had removed me if there is a fight on the field. this really does make me angry. i struggle if i should come to the hearing because i'm so angry which is not healthy. as my coach said the best players don't get angry. but i have to ask the question to mr. cox, can you tell me the people who stand between me getting on a plane every week, i average 1800 miles a week flying. what stands between me and somebody bringing some kind of explosive on the plane?
7:36 am
>> the only person standing between them is the tsa agents who is screaming that passenger and that luggage in the baggage that is going on that plane. that is the only one that is doing it. >> that's weird because the people who drive me to the airport make more than the tsa people. people who take people to the airport make more. people who serve hamburgers make more. i don't care, that's backwards. america ought to furious at what is going on. we pay these people almost nothing to save our lives every day and it bothers me and so were talking about $232 million to build a wall which people
7:37 am
laugh about. what i need to mr. sue neil, you can answer this question for me. what should we do to make sure they earn more money? other than not spend $232 million were not take any money from their budget and use it towards salaries, what should we do? >> the quickest thing that can be done would be appropriating more labor dollars that are targeted specifically to tso pay increases and make them base pay increases using the flexibilities of tsa got that money on october 1 the beginning of the fiscal year they could start paying people more money in october. that would be the quickest way to get money into the hands.
7:38 am
>> but, if we are contemplating taking 64 million from the can't compensation fund, i don't understand. why could it already be moved towards compensation? >> virtually any money they have is the right color of money could be put into tso compensation. i don't know exactly which dollars they have available right now and i'm not familiar with where they want to move money for border issues, that's outside the purview of my panel. >> so you're saying you don't believe what the newspapers are reporting? >> i didn't say that. all i know is what i read in the news and where they are moving
7:39 am
money. >> i represent kansas city, missouri. we have one of only two airports in the country as mr. cox knows, where she is those are private. they are not a part of the regular tsa operation. kansas city and san francisco in about 20 other smaller airports around the country. i actually know people by knee matches from tso, i know the names. one young lady -- when i see them getting up before the day going all the way out to the international airport and realizing they are not being compensated, it just drives me
7:40 am
crazy. i can do about 30 more minutes on this but my time and run out. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you mr. cleaver. seeing no other members we will go to a second round of questions. if i can i will recognize myself or first round of questions. as i'm listening to everybody on the panel and everybody here we all agree that something has to be done to give better pay to these individuals who are essentially underpaid. therefore we have massive turnover. mr. cleaver was saying he flies 1800 miles a week. i fly 6000 miles a week. all of us agree that those are high value assets in the sky in this country every day. as i think about the pay, i'm going to ask, how do we move
7:41 am
forward? what is it mechanically that we need to do? what is the next step to move in that direction? i'm not talking equity just for the sake of equity but we do see that turnover. i'll open it up for comments. >> from the pay scale it is a proven pay scale that is working for all other federal employees. there is flexibilities that pay scale, there is locality pay, there's other specialty pay that can be put on top of that for high cost areas, that is how it is working for all of the federal employees. why are these people that keep us safe since 9/11 and have done such a good job so only paid? >> sir, actually about three
7:42 am
quarters of federal employees are paid through the general schedule. about a quarter or paid another pay systems. so as president cox said, there are locality allowances, there are retention allowances. there are things you can do with the general schedule. many of them take long time getting special salary rates approved for a particular location can take opm a year or two, or three years. it's a cumbersome pay process. during every presidential transition for the last dozen years or so the partnership for public service, the public administration senior executives association, other good government organizations have recommended modernizing civil service pay. tso pays a significant problem. there are other who have pay suffering as well because the schedule is not adequate to meet the needs.
7:43 am
so. >> i would say, given what these employees do, keeping us safe we can talk about the border, the refugee crisis, a major issue no doubt. we can debate how to address that issue and i will tell you, what we are against at airports is individuals who have a goal and intent of bringing down one of our planes. apples to oranges. we have to make sure these individuals are paid correctly so the turnover goes down and so that we can remain safe so to speak on day-to-day basis. mr. kelly couple words on the. >> tsa have a has a finite amount of money to spend on all of its operations. we've issued some reports recently that have identified hundreds of millions of dollars that are not necessarily being spent is efficiency and effectively as possible.
7:44 am
>> we have to look at what's happening in specific regions. the turnover in our region in denver and nashville is extremely high. the economy is really booming and it's extremely competitive there, we have to pay the tsa said competitive rates we can attract and retain them. >> thank you. with that i yield the remainder of my time and i recognize ranking member for five minutes of questions. >> thank you mr. chairman. what i have heard today from all of the panelist is that there is obviously a retention issue. pay is one of the key factors. i want to say to any tso that is watching, i do thank you for your service because you are protecting our nation.
7:45 am
i'm old enough to know that pay is part of the satisfaction of someone's work. but, also serving a greater purpose is also part of the satisfaction and they are serving a greater purpose of securing our nation and our airports. what i heard mr. neil say and again, correct me if i am wrong, is that in some markets tso start getting paid a decent amount and in other markets where competitive pay is higher they are not in that if you move to a title v type of pay system that is old, antiquated, inflexible so you could end up actually harming more than the status quo and that some areas you need higher pay.
7:46 am
other areas because of the market influence you can get by with the lower pay. it just depends on the part of the country you are in. one of the things that mr. neil brought up is that i think there is a nine month delay between the time of tso applies for a job and when they actually get higher. why does it take so long? >> it is a very lengthy process. it is many steps that includes computer-based training. it includes interviews, medical exam, background investigation, all of those things take a very long time. the amount of time that tso takes to do that, and 270 days, you could give birth to a new employee and 270 days. it's far too long.
7:47 am
test a job and they're not going to take another job somewhere else think with that one immediately to take that tso job. that 270 days is an enormous problem. >> thank you mr. kelly. was that part of your recommendation? to decrease the amount of time between application getting higher? >> we did recommend they improve the hiring process. >> and you know if administrators carrying out on any or that particular recommendation? >> they concur with all of our recommendations. >> will hopefully if he is listening, they will work on that. i agree with you.
7:48 am
it's crazy if somebody needs a job they are not going to want to wait nine months unless they are independently wealthy or something they could rope nine months without pay which i highly doubt. in any case i want to make a last statement regarding the border security because that is. it is of concern to move tsa employees to the border even though they did so voluntarily is my understanding. but, it just goes to show what a crisis we have down at the border. i have talked about this before. i am from arizona. we see firsthand the border crisis that is coming before us. in fact, the mayor text me. my phone sis okay, we have x number of people in our detention areas were charities and we don't have enough capacity in that type of thing. so, i have been on record and we
7:49 am
need to get together to try to do some immigration reform. i also think right now because it is an emergency situation and they need more funding so we can deal with this humanitarian and security crisis there and hopefully then we would not have to bring tea assays over to the border. with that i yield back my time. >> thank you. i now recognize the german for five minutes of questions. >> thank you. not only are we moving tso was out of tsa, but, we have two viper teams, scared to go to the border. we have federal air marshals scared to go to the border as well as well as other tsa employees. if they are so valuable why can we spare them to leave that
7:50 am
valuable mission and go to the border? we have some 5000 vacancies within cbp and other agencies along the border right now. they have been vacant for quite a while. nobody comes and say to us, we need to hire these 5000 people. every time cdp you were anybody has ever come to this community and asked for help we have been gracious. i think when i see now the continued manufacturing of crisis to the detriment of tsa and some other agencies which should not be. my challenge to you, if i'm good enough to be the lowest paid employee tsa, but you're going to send me to the border where i
7:51 am
work in a higher-paying job but you're gonna pay me when i'm making at the airport, something is wrong with that. you couldn't pay me at the airport. that's my concern. our rules allow us of the tsa administrator will request an increase in pay and any supplementals, and anything that come before congress, i don't think anybody would turn it down. but, we don't get to request. so, it's not congress not given more money, is the department not requesting money hurts workers that they say they love and appreciate and all of that. so i'm as concerned about it, the pay but i am more concerned that now we are putting airports
7:52 am
at risk potentially as well as the traveling public in general by taking people away from airports and sending them to the border. mr. cox said he has not seen any strategy or have not been consulted with his over 40000 members what they would be doing if they are volunteer and i thank them for their volunteering. but, you have to have a plan. i'm not aware of any member of congress who has received anything in writing or briefing from the department as to what they propose to do along the border with these reassigned employees. it is difficult to support something when you don't know what it is. i yield back. >> thank you. i now recognize mr. standings.
7:53 am
>> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm not sure how one. one thing i do know, is that we have got to bring some sanity back into this discussion. our airports, our ports of entry, the safety of the traveling public, 46 million of them travel through the orlando international airport last year. the safety of the traveling public has to be a top priority. and robbing peter to pay paul, to take officers from our ports of entry to transfer them down to the southern border. we have the secretary of homeland security here a short while ago and i asked her about filing incidents at the border
7:54 am
where cdp officers have been injured severely. she did not have the number. i would think if we had a crisis at the border to the extent that we keep hearing she would know those numbers. i then tried to make it easier by saying how many customs and border patrol officers have been killed in the line of duty. she first said 20 and then she said zero. we know at our ports of entry, overwhelming number of narcotics come through our ports of entry. we know we have had very volatile, deadly situations at our ports of entry. so, we need to secure our borders. but, you don't take from the most vulnerable areas of ports of entry in order to do that. i just think the talking points are wonderful but we need to be
7:55 am
really serious about our needs in terms of securing this nation and particularly at our ports of entry. again, i just had to say that. back to mr. kelly, we have heard about nine months that it takes. even that is, if it takes nine months before an officer is ready for duty, we are going to further strain the workforce by sending them to the border. that just doesn't make any sense to me. mr. kelly, you talked about some recommendations that were made and forgive me if you have already talked about how retention and recommendations that were made to improve that process, but you also made recommendations in terms of training issues.
7:56 am
could you share with me how you prioritize those recommendations to the tsa. >> we did not prioritize them. we made nine recommendations. we thought they were all important to be implemented. we expect all of those to be implemented. >> do you know where we are in the process? >> three of the recommendations tsa has implemented so they are closed. >> which ones are those? >> i can't tell you of the top of my head. >> bit three have been implemented and then we close them. the remaining six have been resolved which means tsa has recommended or given us actions they plan on taking that we believe address our concerns and have not yet been implemented. they have a plan to implement the other six. >> thank you. i yield back any further
7:57 am
questions? >> i want to thank the witnesses for their valuable testimony today and all of the members here for their most important questions. members of the subcommittee may have additional questions for the witnesses and we ask that you respond to such expeditiously. without objection to this community record should be kept open for ten days. hearing no further business the subcommittee stands adjourned. thank you very much.
7:58 am
[inaudible] pgh so, one. [inaudible conversation] ,
7:59 am


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on