With different cultures constantly coming and going through the airports how the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, has to adapt to various people while maintaining security has become a common topic of disscussion. Created in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks the TSA’s status was confirmed and given power by the US Senate the following January (Bragdon 3). With so very many of the US citizens living in a state of fear, there was the need to ensure, in a public manner, that there were security steps being implemented that provided safety for everyone, regardless of ethnicity. As a consequence the TSA developed policies aimed directly at protecting the U. S. transportation infrastructure with a focus on the area of airport security and the prevention of aircraft hijacking (Bragdon 9). This translated into one agency having to discern and adapt to a entire nations populations traveling needs.
Maintaining the safety of air travelers safe while not seeming to be too invasive or inconvenient was a delicate line to balance on for the newly created agency (Bragdon 10). This required skilled professionals with precise attention to detail while at the same moment maintaining high ethical standards that limit the opportunity for abuse (Bragdon 10). However, as a consequence of the size and scope of the operation the TSA relies on contractor support to meet many security screening needs, increasing the opportunity for failure or mistakes in the process (Bragdon 11). The best method of adapting to the ever changing demographics of the American population has resulted in the TSA implementing a specialized screening processes that serve to define any apparent threat and eliminate the need for increased processing at the gate of departure.
The TSA’s screening processes and adaptations are based on the relativity and evolution of current threats as well as the capacity to obtain security screening technologies and heavily impacted by the fluctuations in airport operations that may mandate unique or specific staffing models (ASAC 1). Yet in order to meet this goal, and provide the office the proper means to conduct their duty the TSA requires staff that is skilled enough to adapt effectively to new information, which in turn translates into a large portion of the TSA’s mission to protect the nation’s transportation systems (ASAC 1). However, in many cases funding has been lacking, which in turn causes poor implementation of the TSA planning, which in many cases translates into burdensome restrictions on travelers in the system.
The very first effort by the TSA to maintain and establish control of diverse travelers is the requirements that passengers show a valid ID at the checkpoint before boarding (Elias 2). This initial contact establishes the person’s identity and provides the TSA with the opportunity to run their name through their list of known threats. With so very many different cultural norms in the United States, accepted identification can include any form of passport or state-issued photo identification including military ID allowing US citizens to move freely throughout the nations. This dedication by the US government to ensure travelers rights are maintained is further demonstrated in the fact that those that lack ID are allowed to travel with alternate identification (Elias 2). Following this initial stage, a person’s name and statistics are compared against the no fly list that includes approximately 21, 000 terrorists that are flagged as not being allowed to board (Elias 3). Further aiding the TSA to adapt to the wide variety of passengers is the fact that these names are also compared to the longer list of passengers trigger the need for a thorough screening, making the person eligible for further screening process prior to the boarding process. However, the efforts to effectively institute this policy have been rife with criticism as the system as seen as biased towards individual ethnicities (Stellin 2). Throughout the life of the TSA, there has been a consistent question as to the limits and constitutionality of the screening process, as many see the searches as unreasonable and against the most basic tenants of the American constitution. This facet of the dilemma faced by the TSA is exemplified by their announcement that they had been searching government and private databases for information regarding passengers before they arrived. This is critical say many of those that do not appreciate the process when TSA has access to past itineraries, property records, physical characteristics, law enforcement and intelligence information which can lead to intrusive searches based on faulty evidence (Elias 20).
Building on the need to adapt and be prepared for every threat, all travelers are screened at the gate in order to ensure they are not carrying any form of prohibited items (Rossides 3). In order to cover the many different forms of items that may be incorporated as a weapon the TSA determines that sharp objects, many sporting goods and guns were prohibited for any passenger, requiring a special dispensation in order to carry on to any flight (Rossides 4). This effort to ensure the safety of the diverse public stretched to the restriction against nearly any liquid or gel that could be construed to be part of a bomb or weapon (Rossides 4). Yet, in order to accommodate the many official travelers including g government leaders, U. S. military and law-enforcement are allowed to bypass these measures.
With ever growing threats throughout the international world there was determined that there was a need for enhanced screening procedures in 2010 (ASAC 4). This was due to the fact that the diversity of the American population only continued to grow and there was a need to maintain and sustain safety for each and every group. As a consequence, travelers enhanced form of pat down that allows for a check of waistbands, groin, and inner thighs or alternately be imaged using a full body scanner (Elias 10). This was in order to reduce perceived threats and allow for an equal distribution of searches for every group. The developed pat-down procedures commonly touch the buttocks and private areas, including the female breasts, which in turn create a severe perception of controversy. In order to address the needs of the many sections of society and adapt to their needs and at the same time maintain security, the pat-downs are conducted by agents of the same gender, ensuring that there is not a perception of abuse (Elias 14). Conversely the full body scanners operate by allowing travelers to hold their hands above their heads in order to create front and back images. This element can still lead to the enhanced pat down if there is a perception of need by the part of the scanners operators.
Another area of concern that forces the TSA to adapt and make immediate decision is the method and manner of luggage carried by the travelers. In some cases it is allowed or the TSA to cut or disable locks they cannot open in order to examine the contents (Stellin 2). This gives the agency the ability to open any bag and ensure that there are no threats present no matter the ethnicity of the person in question. In order to facilitate this effort the TSA has companies create locks and built-in locks that can be opened and relocked by tools found at the TSA (Stellin 4). Yet, a common criticism of this tool is that these locks are useless
Acting outside of the physical day to day interaction the TSA has spent effort in order to create a system of programs that focus on the employee and consumer relationship in order to facilitate travel (ASAC 2). This continuous element of the TSA holds the hope of connecting and understanding the public in order to anticipate and provide services integral to the security mandate, before the common traveler becomes aware that they are necessary. On example of this could be found in a Loaned Executive Program to develop to enhance hiring and training practices that benefit passenger service (ASAC 4). This would allow the TSA to share expertise with the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, in order to fill special, discrete needs (ASAC 4). This is argued to enhance operational training as well as practical human resource policies that actively improve its passenger service capabilities. Further expanding on this argument the TSA is being lobbied to consider gaming, banking, lodging, industries experience in order to properly balance passenger service with security.
The program as recommended by the Aviation Security Advisory Committee in order to enhance adaptation and response to travelers includes (5):
1) Review and revise passenger service standards: In particular, the hospitality, lodging and retail industries possess expertise in establishing passenger service programs as well as soliciting loaned executives from premier passenger service companies, including leaders in the technology industry.
2) Optimize Hiring Practices and review hiring tools in order to determine hiring practices adequately screen applicants for passenger skills.
3) Continually revise passenger service training, in order to be able to adapt security screening procedures to meet emerging threats. These screening procedures require new passenger service training in order to sustain a proper level of skill and service.
4) Reward high-quality performance in order to make the behavior an example throughout the agency as well as inspiring positive morale.
In order to take every element into account and create an environment that could assist TSA in identifying specific points of contact in order to increase adaptations efforts include a continuous search for skilled employees (ASAC 5). As a result of this effort other agencies across the U. S government reach out with direct contact to their passengers and provide training for passenger service related issues. This creates the opportunity for the TSA to not only adapt in a meaningful way but work to establish better consumer relations in order to further reduce ineffective behavior.
Working on the aspect of improving consumer perception and interaction, TSA has worked to create the infrastructure to maintain and sustain a series of recommendations that actively increase the agency’s capacity to respond and adapt (ASAC 5):
a. The report recommends that TSA establish a consistent policy for complaints, a process to analyze information and a policy for informing passengers about the screening compliant processes and finally create mechanisms to share best practices among airports.
b. Enhance passenger service data collection: following methods and strategies for data collection including:
1) Collect uniform data through multiple sources including TSA kiosks, airline in-flight or hotel Wi-Fi offerings or any other form of accessible public platform of information. The subcommittee also strongly recommends that TSA consider data collection take place within proximity to the checkpoint. TSA ensures data collected is statistically valid, multidimensional and identifies passenger sentiments the screening process, procedures, technology and interactions with TSA personnel. Further the passenger data is demographically reflective of the traveling public and collected, in the proper environment.
2) Enlist trusted third-party to collect passenger service data enlisting third-party contractors to develop passenger service data collection A third-party collection firm brings expertise and can help guard against biased and inaccurate data reporting.
c. Facilitate data-driven decision-making of improved data collection and provides utilization and analysis of data to inform decision making. Passenger data should be analyzed by leadership to inform decisions regarding staffing levels, passenger service training programs and technology.
TSA argues that they are committed to a focus on global strategies in order to lower the likelihood of a successful terrorist attack from beyond the United States boarder (Bragdon 20). In this effort, not only have the processes already described been attributed to the agency but the TSA has also developed a globally-deployed outreach that coordinate closely with foreign governments as well as the international industry representatives that serve as the direct liaison to regulated foreign airlines, in each case seeking to learn facets of a cultural region in order to adapt and to the needs of the travelling community (Stellin 2014). TSA has a created a segment of aviation security instructors that solely focus on developing the capacity and provide formal training to international governments and counterparts in order to achieve coordinated results that benefit the TSA and their own goals (Stellin 4). This incorporates a collective attitude towards the development and sustenance of the international security environment. Using these interactions TSA synchronizes the U. S. approach with the nations and areas impacted by the security decisions while at the same moment promoting both international security and commerce (Rossides 6). To this end and in order to achieve the long ranging goals of the TSA risk-based screening has been deemed to strengthen security while enhancing the travel experience. In some cases this fact has been disputed by the traveling public that has found many delays in the process. Yet, by learning more about travelers through information they voluntarily provide as well as combining with other layers of security, the TSA and DHS create the ability to focus resources on higher-risk and unknown passengers (Rossides 6). In order to accomplish the task appointed to it official TSA policy states that the agency will continue to incorporate random security steps in order to maintain the safest and best system possible for the traveling public (ASAC 5). Yet, in a direct outreach to specific segments of society, TSA has modified screening processes of r many of the low-risk populations including passengers 12 younger as well as those over 75.
In order to increase the nimble nature needed at the TSA the agency built programs specifically designed to enhance the intelligence-driven, risk-based initiatives that help TSA move away from a basic model and closer to its goal of providing the most efficient and worldly security possible (Rossides 6). Servicing a high number of clients these programs are available in throughout the United States in order to streamline the process, which in turn adds to the ability of the TSA to perform its duty. With more than 30 airports scheduled to be online by the end of 2014, the TSA is actively seeking out and engaging the companies and proprietors as an enhanced method of reaching out to the very diverse population that they are charged with serving. These, and other efforts like it, allow the TSA to focus efforts on the passengers as well as high-risk passengers, while at the same moment giving many passengers expedited screening and a better fundamentally better travelling experience (Stellin 5). With companies including the Trusted Traveler programs Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI, the network of partner programs is helping to enhance the underlying effort to communicate with the travelling population.
An critical elements of the effort to build and maintain the TSA is found in the creation of the Office of Training and Workforce Engagement, or OTWE, which aids and centralizes leadership training, benefiting the overall workforce engagement programs that continue to add value to the relationship with the public (Rossides 6). There is a consistent policy of maintaining and enhancing the capabilities of TSA partners in order to maintain and sustain the opportunities necessary to the agency. An example of the overall development of the policy of the TSA is that the OTWE has developed and implemented a training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center as well as at Glynco, GA, continually indicating a successful model and growing influence (Rossides 7). Resting alongside training and is the development of TSA partnerships to consistently improve their overall effectiveness, adding to the strength of the agency and effort. TSA delivers a form of communications courses for all managers and supervisors ensuring that the leadership is at the highest level of understanding and training (Rossides 5). The course, which expands upon the concepts and principles introduced during earlier engagement training, teaches officers how to effectively interact with passengers and co-workers. These courses enhance the adaptability of the overall TSA agency by providing for every type of human interaction and teaching them skills and techniques to de-escalate difficult situations. This is a direct benefit for the TSA employees at the checkpoint where these skills aid to effectively complete the screening process.
With different cultures constantly coming and going through the airports how the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, has had to adapt to various people while maintaining security is a very interesting issue. By implementing a multi-tiered system including better employee training, and increased consumer outreach as well as the continuous integration of better and developing technology the TSA is aggressively seeking to find a balanced and effective method of ensuring the diverse travelling public can not only feel safe but arrive at their destination in a timely manner. In the end, the TSA will not be able to always adapt and meet every threat, yet, by developing effective partnerships with those around them they are ensuring that the most and best method available is provided.
ASAC. ‘Aviation Security Advisory Committee’. 2013. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.
Bragdon, Clifford R. Transportation Security. 1st ed. Amsterdam: BH/Elsevier, 2008. Print.
Dhs. gov. ‘Written Testimony Of TSA For A House Committee On Homeland Security, Subcommittee On Transportation Security Hearing Titled “ Eleven Years After 9/11 Can TSA Evolve To Meet The Next Terrorist Threat?”’. 2014. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.
Elias, Bart. ‘Airport Passenger Screening’. 1-10, 2009. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.
Rossides, Gale. ‘United States Department Of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration’. 2009. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.
Stellin, Susan. ‘Security Check Now Starts Long Before You Fly’. Nytimes. com. 2014. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.