Federal Manager's Daily Report

In fiscal 2016 and 2017, TSA hired over 19,300 screeners and lost more than 15,500, with nearly a quarter of those newly hired leaving within their first six months.

The TSA is missing opportunities to reduce its longstanding “consistent personnel turnover” among transportation security officers—screeners—who make up the bulk of its workforce, an IG report has said. It said that during fiscal years 2016 and 2017, TSA hired more than 19,300 screeners but lost more than 15,500, with nearly a quarter of those newly hired leaving within their first six months.

“TSA spends millions annually to hire and train new TSOs to replace those who leave the agency,” it said—the average cost of a recruitment is $6,300 and initial training $2,300. Further, on average it takes 252 days from application to job offer acceptance, involving steps including a structured interview, fingerprinting, verification of U.S. citizenship, medical evaluation, drug test and background investigation.

The audit said that staff shortages and low pay rates “exacerbate retention challenges” but that TSA nonetheless could:

* Better communicate job expectations to applicants, for example by making the viewing of its “realistic job preview” video mandatory rather than optional and by holding conversations before the formal interview in which agency officials would provide a “realistic overview of the TSO position and airport-specific facts, such as open positions at the airport, shifts available, parking fees, hiring process timeframes, required training, and working conditions.”

* Increase the focus on career development opportunities for TSOs “to promote interest and long-term loyalty to the agency.”

* Take into consideration a job candidate’s “compatibility factors such as personality, motivation, and attitude that are critical for job performance.”

* Better share and leverage results of exit surveys.