TSA The Current Whipping Post

The current headlines announce anger and anguish over long lines at our airports. The problem has to be airport security screening and therefore the TSA. Our congress is the first to scream. The screaming does not propose solutions only blame. Naturally the finger pointing is to the executive branch which means TSA, Homeland Security and the President. Regretably this is merely an election year political response, not a proposed solution. Regardless there is a problem and more than enough blame to go around.

Shortly after 9/11 I had to travel by air. The mad craze to create TSA and hire employees was a less than professional process but a security procedure that needed to be created. The rush may have been overstated, although somewhat necessary, but could have resulted in a less than desirable creation but one we still live with today.

Some blame the structure of the TSA, some the senior staff, others inadequate staffing. The airlines blame everyone except their booking practices. Regardless of how the finger is pointed, something needs to be done to improve the process which will reduce wait times and still insure adequate security. Keep in mind security remains the paramount concern to be addressed.

Structure is always a scapegoat when things aren’t going well. Structure is important to establish a chain of command and proper span of control. As a scapegoat it doesn’t really place blame on people so “no heads are going to roll.” If I was an administrator I might see this as a better way to go so that I can claim to correct the problem without having to confront staff as an adversary. Goodness knows I don’t want to have to do my job. This can be a difficult situation for me if I see myself as one of the boys or girls, just making more money.

Inadequate staffing is even better. The office doesn’t have enough people to do the job. We are overworked and struggling to get the job done. Don’t blame me or “my” staff.

Both of these may be problems. If senior staff is up to the task reviewing and updating the table of organization is part of their job. Periodically revising the structure to meet the changing needs of the organization is their job. Inadequate staffing may be due to budget cuts which may result from Congressional or other action. If Congress or the higher ups can’t or won’t provide adequate funding then the administrators need to review the current procedures. Can the task be done properly with less people and less money, and if so, how? Failing that then mobilizing your constituency can be an option which may have push back from those above and in elected office. Proper and necessary operation is your job, so you should do it.

The major culprit can never be structure or staffing. The main issue is always people. It may range from senior staff to the line employees checking my ticket. Proper administration by senior staff, proper training for all employees, properly qualified employees with the skills and education to do the job are the ingredients needed.

Just as the form of local government such as strong-mayor, weak-mayor etc. has had minimal impact in achieving its stated objective, the form or structure is nearly neutral. Personnel at all levels make the difference.


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