Philadelphia TSA Agents Fired for Bribery and Falsifying Results on Proficiency Exams

15% of the Ft. Myers airport TSA workforce were disciplined for failing to actually do screenings they were supposed to perform. Only five were actually fired.

Now the TSA is now firing 7 Philadelphia employees involved in a bribery scandal where a supervisor demanded money for passing grades on an annual proficiency exam.

TSA management at the Philadelphia airport removed 10 employees from security duties in November pending results of an investigation of bribery by the Homeland Security Department’s Office of Inspector General.

So it took them 7 months to actually decide to fire these individuals. Instead of, you know, just firing them.

That’s not how it works at my place of employment… I certainly wouldn’t be paid for seven months ‘pending results of an investigation’ of my paying bribes to have my proficiency results falsified, or taking bribes to falsify others’ results.

And to the extent that this was occurring, it means that TSA screeners were on the job despite their inability to pass proficiency exams (but for their ability to falsify results).

And yet somehow,

“The decision to remove these employees affirms our strong commitment to our vital security mission and the safety of the traveling public.”

Rather than suggesting that either the TSA itself is unrelated to security, or the presence of these TSA agents on the job re-affirms that they aren’t providing competent security.

Meanwhile, one member of Congress expresses his concern about the situation while “appreciat[ing] TSA taking decisive action and making clear that such behavior will not be tolerated..”

Decisive action?

Still, we should remember this represents a few bad apples who in no way undermine the hard work that thousands of men and women at the TSA do to keep us safe, day in and day out.

(HT: rwoman on Milepoint)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. They were suspended from their jobs back in November, which probably means they *weren’t* being paid.

    Also, this is a serious accusation, one that could lead to expensive lawsuits over wrongful termination and possibly slander or EEO claims if the accusations were found to be unfounded. Multipled X10. A thorough investigation was called for. Firing people is not something to do lightly. And I’m guessing that the investigation was harder than most job-related investigations because the agents were all invoking their 5th amendments rights to remain silent, as obviously what they said in this investigation had implications for criminal charges against them.

    Lastly, there are literally thousands of TSA agents, so-despite your sarcasm- yes, it is extremely unfair to judge them as a whole baserd on the actions of the few.

  2. “Also, this is a serious accusation, one that could lead to expensive lawsuits over wrongful termination and possibly slander or EEO claims if the accusations were found to be unfounded. ”

    Isn’t that precisely the problem?

    “Lastly, there are literally thousands of TSA agents, so-despite your sarcasm- yes, it is extremely unfair to judge them as a whole baserd on the actions of the few.”

    Literally thousands of TSA agents, again precisely the problem!

    The sarcasm you referred to links to tons and tons of examples of these stories, and the refrain is precisely what we hear from TSA each time stories come out about “a few bad apples” but these stories just keep coming out..

  3. Hire the bottom of the heap (Some with a whopping 9th grade education) give them a badge and pay them more than they are worth – WTF do you expect? “This is TSA, man! All we gots to do is shows up. Nobody said nothing ’bout doing no work!”

  4. A perfect example again of all that is wrong with this whole charade! We’re all SO much safer with these people protecting us from baby milk and grandmas! When you travel in other countries, you realize how silly American security “theater” at airports has become.As @cook says: “hire from the bottom of the heap …and what do you expect?”

  5. Two union bashing articles in a week?

    Workers rights matter. Also it seems like management was involved in the fraud which makes it more important to do the investigation. I think you might well consider taking a bigger picture approach to how due process and collective bargaining factor into the well being of a society.

    Also I can’t resist the “your line of work” comment. Last I checked folks in the financial industry got away with far larger crimes.

  6. I do not lay the blame at the feet of frontline workers at all, it’s ENTIRELY the fault of management who set up the structure that their employees work within.

  7. Yea… I too am pretty disappointed in your article. Pretty much anything that wasn’t in quotes

  8. We often as Americans criticize the corruption and scandals of Pakistan, Saudi, African countries and China–when this stuff happens right here in our own backyards. Hypocrisy in action. Thanks for article Gary…now I have some Saturday night dinner conversation around the BBQ.

  9. Decisive Action – congressmen tend to go for the top shelf adjectives to describe incompetency; just as they would their own performance.

  10. Gary-

    Any chance that you could use your savvy and position as a respected, knowing observer of airport matters to forge real change on TSA matters? Perhaps a group with others similarly qualified serving in an advisory role to better the TSA and its interactions with the flying public?

    Also, I encourage you to review and remove blatantly racist reader comments when they apprear on your blog. You deserve a much higher standard of conversation and so do your readers.

  11. I’m not at all a fan of TSA or security theater, but I have to agree with some of the comments that I fail to see the outrage in due process being followed. We have no idea how the incident came to light, whether there was black-and-white evidence to cause firing on the spot. Or whether someone needed to set something up to gather evidence. The article doesn’t elaborate on the specifics so I fail to see jumping to conclusions that 7 months was too long. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.

    So Gary, you would be OK if you were fired on the spot, based on, say, another employee merely accusing you of having solicited bribes or some other misconduct?

    I’d love to see something done about the security screening mess and appreciate your often bringing incidents to light. But to be honest, your emotional, vitriolic reaction to every little thing is really harming your credibility.

  12. @PanAm “So Gary, you would be OK if you were fired on the spot, based on, say, another employee merely accusing you of having solicited bribes or some other misconduct?” if that were consistent with my conditions of employment, sure. It might ‘suck’ but I would think that in a security context, if we accept the claim (which I do not!) that the function of the TSA is to protect us from terrorists blowing up airlines or using them as missiles, that seems like a no-brainer of a tradeoff. My point here though, which some seem to be missing, is not about the employment policies as such — it’s that the employment policies in place put the lie to the notion that the TSA is really about security.

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