TSA 2012 Budget Proposal Is The Right Path For Agency


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TSA 2012 Budget Proposal Is The Right Path For Agency

By Eddy Metcalf

March 20, 2011 - While the decision to permit collective bargaining at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) “has energized our Officers,” their union leader said this week, the reality remains that TSA must be appropriately funded to perform most effectively its vital mission of helping secure air travel.  

That means, said President Colleen M. Kelley of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), the proper appropriations path to pursue is the one outlined in the administration’s proposed TSA budget for fiscal 2012. It calls for an additional 2,275 TSO Officers and an extra 350 Behavioral Detection Officers.

The NTEU leader offered her assessment about the White House’s fiscal 2012 budget proposal for TSA in testimony submitted to the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee. In her testimony, President Kelley warned of damaging consequences stemming from recent proposed budget cuts for TSA, including “serious gaps in security, necessitating delays in equipment upgrades and reduced staffing.” Such cuts, she told the subcommittee, “would take security at airports backwards.” 

Kelley called for significant improvements in a variety of areas within TSA, and in particular training and pay. “TSA must standardize and improve training and remediation efforts,” she said. “Given the importance of their jobs, it is hard to believe the training system at TSA is as haphazard as it is. Most of the training is online, without benefit of the experience of a more senior Officer.”  

And on the important issue of pay, the NTEU leader called again for elimination of the agency’s Performance Accountability and Standards System (PASS). Every year, she said, TSO Officers are “demoralized by the arbitrary nature of the payments” generated by PASS. “Since most of the TSA workforce has very low base salaries, she said, “the ‘merit’ increases (under PASS) are insignificant.’ She also strongly recommended a significant increase in the TSA Officer uniform allowance.  

Referring to the current uncertain funding scenario, the NTEU leader called on the committee to fully fund TSA for the entire fiscal year. “A nation simply cannot fight terrorism in short-term chunks of money,” Kelley said. “TSA is working to stop future threats, but it cannot do so when it cannot commit funds.”

Meanwhile, as to collective bargaining and the ongoing union representation election that will continue through April 19, President Kelley said TSA Officers want representation “in order to combat arbitrary actions by supervisors, to create a more transparent system of performance evaluations, and a grievance procedure that will put an end to selective discipline.”


She applauded the decision to grant TSA employees the right to bargain collectively, calling it one that “recognizes that morale at TSA was a serious problem.” NTEU is the nation’s largest independent federal union, representing 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments, including thousands of TSA Officers at airports across the country.

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