Senior officials at the Transportation Security Administration used reassignments to retaliate against whistleblowers, and the Homeland Security Department is withholding related documents from Congress and the Office of Special Counsel, a House committee found in a pair of reports released on Tuesday.
The reports were the climax of a three-year bipartisan investigation by staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that found “recurrent misconduct with minimal consequences,” including sexual harassment and reassignments due to suspicion of unauthorized contact with the news media.
“TSA senior officials often circumvented the disciplinary process to avoid repercussions for their actions,” the 118-page majority reportsaid. “This pattern of mitigation allowed senior-level misconduct to persist, decreasing agency morale” as reflected in the agency’s “astronomical attrition rates (as high as 20 percent in some segments of the workforce during the period in question) and abysmal ranking in a governmentwide job satisfaction survey (336 out of 339 agencies and components in 2017).”
A separate report by ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., made recommendations for stronger oversight of TSA following a probe that included one deposition, 10 transcribed interviews, meetings with dozens of whistleblowers, five hearings and a review of thousands of pages of documents.
“The committee found TSA inappropriately reassigned employees to new positions hundreds of miles from their stations without any discernable, organizational need,” the report said. “Many reassignments resulted in considerable hardship due to financial and family obligations, forcing some employees to leave TSA rather than accept the reassignment.”
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