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Written testimony of TSA Office of Inspections Assistant Administrator Roderick Allison for a House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Transportation Security hearing titled “Examining TSA's Cadre of Criminal Investigators”

Release Date: 
January 28, 2014

311 Cannon House Office Building

Chairman Hudson, Ranking Member Richmond, and members of the Subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Office of Inspection (OOI). TSA OOI ensures the integrity and effectiveness of TSA’s employees and programs, which are entrusted with safeguarding our nation’s transportation systems, as well as the security systems used to safeguard the traveling public.

TSA OOI’s mission is to ensure the integrity, efficiency, and effectiveness of TSA’s workforce, operations, and programs through objective audits, covert testing, inspections, and criminal investigations. Every day, TSA’s nearly 60,000 employees screen 1.8 million air travelers, and perform the vetting for more than two million new airline passenger reservations and 14 million transportation worker records against the Federal Government’s consolidated terrorist watch list. It is critical to our mission that the TSA workforce and its programs adhere to the highest standards of conduct.

TSA’s Office of Inspection

TSA OOI has a wide range of responsibilities including criminal investigations, audit and compliance cases, as well as covert testing efforts. We investigate allegations of criminal and administrative misconduct of TSA employees and contractors; conduct inspections of TSA operations to ensure all offices and airports are in full compliance with federal laws, regulations, and current policies; and evaluate the effectiveness of our transportation security systems through covert testing and audits designed to identify system vulnerabilities and provide mitigation strategies. Of these, there are 99 criminal investigators who handle allegations of criminal and administrative misconduct. The criminal investigators have an average of 17 years of federal experience, including an average of 7 years of service at TSA.

In 2012, at Administrator Pistole’s direction, TSA OOI initiated integrity tests at airports around the country to assess compliance with our core value of integrity in handling the property of passengers. Since 2012, TSA OOI’s criminal investigators have conducted more than 2,530 integrity tests in 114 airports around the country. At times, the tests included local law enforcement and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG), Office of Investigations agents. I am pleased to report that we have found 99.7 percent compliance. In fact, only 7 TSA employees failed the covert tests and all 7 were removed from federal service.

TSA is required by DHS Management Directive 0810.1 to refer allegations of criminal misconduct to the DHS OIG, so the DHS OIG may determine which cases it will retain and investigate. Any case DHS OIG does not choose to investigate is referred back to TSA OOI. This responsibility requires the employment and retention of investigators who are professional, capable, and able to appropriately handle criminal investigation cases. In FY 2013, TSA referred 423 new cases to the DHS OIG, which retained 12 cases. The remaining 411 cases were referred back to TSA OOI for investigation.

Efficiency

During FY 2013, TSA OOI’s 100 criminal investigators completed 8871 total investigations including 309 of the 411 newly opened cases referenced above, of which the majority were criminal investigations. TSA OOI’s criminal investigators used their expertise and knowledge of law, regulation, and policy to investigate and close these complex cases, thus ensuring the highest standards of integrity and professionalism within our workforce. Additionally, TSA OOI partners with the TSA Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to ensure that allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated and that discipline is appropriate, consistent, and fair across the agency.

Since becoming the Assistant Administrator of TSA OOI, I have focused on making our office more efficient and effective in carrying out its mission. During FY 2013, TSA OOI closed over 55 percent of investigations within 90 days of initiation. In FY 2013, TSA OOI completed 25 workers’ compensation fraud investigations which resulted in cost avoidance to the government of over $3,000,000. Our office also conducted over 400 covert tests, which focused on potential vulnerabilities in existing policies, procedures, supervision, and training. Furthermore, OOI implemented risk-based initiatives through the development and implementation of tools, conducted risk-based analysis of information for program development and execution, and collaborated with internal and external stakeholders.


1 The 887 completed investigations include new cases from FY 2013 as well as cases opened or investigated in the prior year.

 

OIG Recommendations

The OIG produced a September 2013 report entitled Transportation Security Administration Office of Inspection’s Efforts to Enhance Transportation Security which recommended 11 improvements in TSA OOI. While the majority of these recommendations are still open, TSA has made a significant progress in addressing the OIG’s concerns such as Recommendation #2, which the OIG closed when TSA finalized and implemented a Management Directive requiring criminal investigators to document their work hours properly. To adequately capture the utilization of our criminal investigators, TSA OOI uses a Resource Allocation Model (RAM) to document all criminal investigative activities and hours concurrent with the investigation, which supervisors are reviewing on a regular basis.

Additionally, TSA’s Office of Human Capital (OHC) is conducting an independent workforce review to evaluate the workforce profile and the nature of the caseload in TSA OOI. This will ensure the proper assignment of cases requiring the special skills and expertise of criminal investigators. The evaluation will also include a predictive model to determine the future demand for criminal investigators. As part of this review, OHC will examine cost effective and appropriate staffing models to support TSA OOI’s mission.

On December 9, 2013, I approved a work plan for TSA OOI’s divisions, which contains project-specific information such as duration, cost estimates, and staffing. I am also reviewing our current fiscal year goals to develop outcome-based performance measures, and working to establish a regular review process to ensure that TSA OOI’s programs, projects and operations are meeting the intended goals. TSA OOI anticipates completing this task in March of this year.

TSA produced a 90-day update to the OIG’s recommendations in December of 2013, and anticipates closure of additional recommendations in the coming weeks.

Conclusion

TSA appreciates the partnership of the DHS OIG and this Committee to ensure TSA OOI is managing our security system and workforce in the most efficient, effective manner possible. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I will be happy to address any questions you may have.

Review Date: 
January 23, 2014
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