by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper
Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano said Thursday she was worried about the morale of employees of the Transportation Security Administration.
Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Napolitano said she wanted TSA employees to have “good morale” because they would be more effective.
“The morale issue is one that I’m quite concerned about,” Napolitiano said in response to a question from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) about a Government Accountability Office study that found that TSA ranked 232nd out of 240 government agencies in employee satisfaction.
Napolitiano said the morale issues at TSA were caused by employees at the controversial agency being given new positions without proper training.
“We have looked into those numbers,” she said. “We have determined that one of the real sources was that our first line or mid-level supervisors were promoted without training on how to actually be a supervisor. That caused a lot of discontent.”
TSA has been regularly criticized by members of Congress for its airport security techniques, including controversial pat-down hand searches and X-ray body scanners.
Goodlatte asked Napolitano if there was low morale among TSA employees “due to the policies implemented by this administration that prevent agents from doing their jobs.”
He added that it was important that TSA take steps to foster goodwill among its employees, regardless of the reasons for morale to be low.
“You have a serious morale problem that has only gotten worse since you have taken over,” Goodlatte said to Napolitiano. “I think you would agree that low morale in these positions has the potential to impact how effectively these public servants do their job.”
Napolitiano said the Homeland Security Department was working with the Office of Personnel Management to find ways to boost TSA morale.
“We … brought in some experts from OPM to help us and other places,” she said. “And we’ve looked at other departments that were able to go from low to high and techniques or things that they did from a management standpoint, we intend to deploy those as well.”