In a letter to the TSA last week, Senator Charles Schumer asked the TSA to conduct internal undercover "sting" operations to catch employees who may be stealing from the people they're supposed to protect. But it seems that the TSA had already been secretly evaluating employees at Newark Airport, and the results are about as depressing as you'd expect: the airport's screeners use proper procedure only 16.7% of the time, and respond appropriately to prohibited items only 25% of the time.
The secret report, dated June 8 and named PACE Airport Evaluation (for the four different job performance headings: "Presence, Advisements, Communication and Execution") was obtained by the Star-Ledger, and conducted by TSA employees from other cities, referred to as "secret shoppers."
Perhaps most alarming was the rate at which Newark's TSA screeners told passengers of their right to opt-out of potentially carcinogenic body scans for pat-downs: 0%. Thomas McDonnell, a professor at Pace Law School who apparently hasn't watched ABC News recently, called the results of the report, "shocking": "There’s that often-repeated phrase, ‘We’ve got to get it right all the time.' When it’s under 50 percent, under 20 percent, that to me is very shocking."
"At the very least, Congress should require the disclosure of more of these PACE reports, and consider whether some major changes in airport screening are necessary now more than ten years after the program was initially established," John Banzhaf, a public interest law professor at GWU Law School noted in a release.
The report did find that Newark's agents displayed "good listening skills" and correctly removed prohibited items during physical baggage searches 100% of the time, which is good news because potential terrorists are notoriously frightened by politeness.
A TSA spokesman gave this comment to the Star-Ledger: "TSA is an agency that evaluates its workforce constantly with an eye toward continuous improvement."
The upside of that 16.7% number? Maybe they're actually cutting people slack for traveling with their
explosive geltoothpaste in their carry-on.