Several Transportation Security Administration agents testified before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform highlighting several alarming faults within the agency in relation to the security of travelers.
According to the agents, poor leadership and a pattern of retaliation from TSA officials have made it harder for agents to address security gaps.
“You should be alarmed and concerned with these issues, because TSA employees are less likely to report operational security threats or relevant issues out of fear of retaliation,” TSA chief risk officer’s program manager Mark Livingston said, The Hill reported. “No one who reports issues is safe at TSA.”
Several executive leaders in the agency were said to be unqualified and believed to be abusing their power. Despite these accusations, they’ve managed to remain employed.
“From 2011 to early 2015, TSA chose, in abundance, unprepared employees to fill key senior leadership vacancies,” TSA Kansas' federal security director Jay Brainard said. “Many of these leaders lacked any security experience or had ever worked in a field operation their entire career.”
Brainard and Livingston were two of three whistleblowers who testified. Assistant federal security director in the Office of Security Operations Andrew Rhoades likened the corporate culture at TSA “to the movie 'Animal House,'" and the relationship between TSA headquarters "and the field is best depicted in the TV series 'Game of Thrones'.”
“Ours is a culture of misconduct, retaliation, lack of trust, cover-ups and the refusal to hold its senior leaders accountable for poor judgment and malfeasance,” Rhoades said. “I’m truly disgusted by it."
Brainard said the executives surround themselves with like-minded employees and promote people based on loyalty, rather than merit and performance.
“Subordinates follow these positional leaders out of fear, whose only objectives are limited to bean counting and instilling fear into anyone who opposes them,” he said, Federal News Radio reported. “These leaders are some of the biggest bullies in government and as a result many people feel battered, abused, and overworked.”