TSA & Whispering
According to a just released GAO report, TSA inspectors spent 33% of their time inspecting, 8% on incidents, 5% investigating and 5% on outreach. Of the remainder, it is reported that 49% of their time was classified as "other." This means that:
TSA officials "could not provide documentation identifying how TSIs spend their time on activities that are not captured in TSA's regulatory reporting system."
Note that an anonymous comment made clear the difference between TSA Inspectors (who deal with regulatory compliance issues) and Screeners (who we see at checkpoints), and that the GAO report refers to "insprectors." Nonetheless, almost from its inception, there have been questions about resource allocation within the TSA. Often, especially early in its lifetime, small airports had an abundance of agents while larger airports had longer lines. This imbalance was supposedly eventually corrected. However, it is also clear from a DHS letter attached to the GAO report that DHS is sensitive to the question of appropriate balance and allocation of personnel.
DHS has contracted with Lockheed Martin Corp. to perform a "comprehensive TSI staffing study" this year. The study will have "two prongs," according to the letter: one, a "full workforce analysis," and two, a "determination of the number of TSIs needed and effective placement." The study is scheduled to be conducted in the second quarter, with a report due back to TSA in the third quarter of this year.
Separately, in an effort to reduce shouting between their security officers at checkpoints, TSA is planning to purchase 20,000 land mobile radios to allow the agents to "whisper" to each other. The purchase of these radios is subject to a February 27th call for information by the TSA.