TSA Allows Airports To Hire People Without Finishing Background Check

While the TSA dare not let a hug-friendly 4-year-old go by without a pat-down, the agency is apparently just fine with allowing airports to hire new employees who haven’t gone through a complete background check yet.

The reason, reports Atlanta’s WSB-TV, is that the TSA backlog on background checks has been holding back airports from bringing on new hires. Thus, the agency opted to delay the checks in order to get these people working.

WSB learned about the delayed checks when it obtained an internal security memo from Hartsfield-Jackson International.

A rep for TSA tells WSB why it granted airports “temporary regulatory relief”:

The TSA was recently made aware that a newly implemented change to the system used to process airline and airport employee background checks resulted in a delay for requests submitted through the American Association of Airport Executives. The cause of the issue was quickly identified, and TSA and AAAE have worked together to implement a solution… At no time was security at risk, and all new employees will still undergo identity verification and be subject to watchlist matching.

So it’s perfectly okay to detain someone long enough for them to miss their flight, but heaven forbid the airport food court goes understaffed? Makes sense.

This has not been a good week for the TSA. In addition to the two headline-making incidents involving allegedly over-zealous screening of young children, two current and two former TSA screeners were arrested in Los Angeles, accused of accepting bribes to allow drug-carrying travelers to slip through checkpoints.

TSA delays background checks for new hires [WSBTV.com]


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  1. RandomHookup says:

    This was a huge issue when they started TSA as a background check could take months. Bringing on thousands of people at once means you had to cut corners. High turnover means it is a problem that won’t go away.

    • bluline says:

      This is an agency so hard up for employees that it advertises on pizza delivery boxes. Is it any wonder they get what they get?

      • sponica says:

        a guy I know applied to be a TSA agent, some regions have a shorter wait in comparison to others.

    • kimmie says:

      When I worked the feds, background checks took two weeks, so we got to start our jobs on time, but since we had no clearance, we were essentially treated like guests on the premises and had to be escorted everywhere. It’s possible TSA follows the same practice, except that the escorts probably just don’t care about keeping an eye on the new hires.

  2. Bativac says:

    I don’t even know what to say anymore. We need to manhandle disabled children to ensure they or their parents aren’t trying to commit terrorist acts. But the guy doing the manhandling might have a window of a few days when nobody realizes he’s an actual criminal.

    I give up. I think I felt better when there was an off chance of somebody hijacking the plane.

    • Cat says:

      The worst part is, there is still an off chance of somebody hijacking the plane.

      • kobresia says:

        That’s because, like many law enforcement drills, “compliance” is the only thing they’re trying to enforce. They don’t really don’t have the means actually to stop most real threats from the most determined terrorists/hijackers, but they sure can make sure the populace is well-conditioned to comply with bullshit searches and commands to show their papers. Training people to submit to being violated by authority figures at will seems to be the only goal of security theatre.

    • Eyeheartpie says:

      Try a window of up to a few months, to a year or more. A background check can take months to complete, from start to finish, and with the backlog, they may not start a new employee’s background check for months after he/she is hired.

  3. xantec says:

    I take it these aren’t the average run of the mill checks most businesses perform on applicants, that take 2-7 days on average? What makes these particular background checks take months to process?

    • Captain Spock says:

      No real reason, unless there is a physical person doing research on each one, rather than a computer check/drug test

    • RandomHookup says:

      That kind of background check is pretty easy IF all you are checking is public records in a limited list of places. All you’ll find are convictions in places where the person lived (unless there’s a statewide directory). Government background checks can involve a deeper look, interviewing friends and colleagues and digging through the FBI’s deeper arrest record system (though not comprehensive).

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      There is probably a backlog. I remember at one point Public Trust clearances (very low-level, not handling anything secret) would take 18 months, mostly because of the backlog.

    • jimbo831 says:

      Because it’s the TSA is my only explanation. I just started a new job in January and my background check was completed in one day.

      More importantly, my wife works for a company that does background checks. The usually finish in 2-3 days including a criminal check, employment verification, degree verification, and reference checks. The only exception is with a few rare counties that don’t make criminal history available online and someone actually has to physically go in. Those are very few and far between. Usually it consists of running their name into national databases (which are often very inaccurate) but more importantly verifying any hits in this databases with the courthouses and running checks with counties that they currently live or have recently lived in. All of this takes a couple days at most.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        That explains it, then. I can’t think of a reason anyone without a criminal background would get a job directly violating the constitutional rights of others, so the verification probably takes substantially longer.

    • xanadustc says:

      Depending on the time. In PA when I worked as a children’s volunteer in BBBS, you need an act 34 clearance which takes 1 month to process.

  4. HomerSimpson says:

    Don’t see what could possibly go wrong!

    Nope … no idea …

  5. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    There are ways to hire people who already have good background checks, or who have recently or within the past few years passed a background check, and then do a new formal background check while that person is on a probationary period.

    Case in point: 40 states issue concealed carry permits, and part of the process in obtaining one is going through a background check. That’s the reason when a person with a permit buys a new handgun, they do not have to undergo another background check. So why not try to hire people who already have permits?

    • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

      well I guess if the TSA actively recruits for jobs that’s one route to take, but what if they rely on applications only? If no gun permit, or CCW, holders apply then they still have to wade through the lengthy bg check process

    • winstonthorne says:

      That would unfairly discriminate against residents of New Jersey, as it is f*cking impossible to obtain said permit here (you have to demonstrate “need” and unless your “need” is “I’m already a cop/armed security guard” you’re summarily denied).

    • RandomHookup says:

      That’s a pretty limited audience from which to hire people for a fairly low pay job that’s all across the country.

      They prefer to hire from the other government agencies and police forces, but shift work of this time ends up being high turnover regardless, so they can’t be that picky. Plus they have to follow government hiring rules and veteran preferences.

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        That’s a pretty limited audience from which to hire people for a fairly low pay job that’s all across the country.

        I don’t disagree, but it would be someplace to start and that was just one example. They aren’t going to hire cops away from their departments for that low pay either.

      • Pagan wants a +1 button says:

        They also do criminal background checks to be a McGruff house or Safe House participant. That’s a resource they could tap that doesn’t automatically exclude people who are already employed, nor does it have to rely on CC permits, which can be very difficult to get.

  6. Marlin says:

    This is normal. You can get a imital-B/I or Clerance and do work that does not require the full back ground.

    No way the Fed Gov could hire anyone if we told people that could not start till their B/I, S, or TS is complete.

    • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

      Well maybe they should wait considering some of the faaantastic hires they’ve made so far, it’s almost like the TSA goes out of it’s way to hire the incompetent and or stupid. Here in Philly alone we’ve had thefts, drug smugglers, and fake drug planters.

  7. dush says:

    These people are scanned and search everytime they report to work and leave the airport right? Right??

  8. jp7570-1 says:

    Our “first line of defense”? I sure feel better now!

  9. oldwiz65 says:

    I am surprised TSA even does background checks on their own people, given how many TSA employees love fondling underage children, making them cry, stealing from bags, humiliating the disabled, taking bribes to allow drugs to pass thru, etc.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Background checks usually only go so far. If you haven’t been caught before, it’s not going to show up (in most cases).

  10. daynight says:

    Part of the real question is how they select and train the people they hire. With so many incidents that make the news, the hiring authorities must be incompetent and the trainers are probably not given any option to correct bad hires when they detect antisocial personalities.

  11. msbask says:

    I (sort of) know someone who works for the TSA. It took 3 months for them to complete their background check. Then came another 2 months of training, classes and tests. This person actually complains that the older TSA employees don’t do things “by the book” but there’s nothing he can do because he’s the new guy.

    [For the record: TSA sucks]

  12. suez says:

    Might as well just put out the “Hiring all sex offenders and terrorists” sign.

  13. ITDEFX says:

    The TSA application process is a joke. You go thru everything they ask from you and they look for something to disqualify you for…in my case I was disqualify because I have a “Mild” case of Asthma. I tried to fight it with my Doctor’s help and they still turned me down. Ended up having to pay out of pocket expenses just to end up not getting the job. Was pissed…..yet people who have “mental illnesses” are ok to work for them…

  14. bben says:

    Just went through Houston Airport – 20 minutes for TSA to ‘process’ 30 people. They were making every person go through the scanner, some several times. Then when they got down to only about 10 people in line, a supervisor allowed them to open the metal detector to speed things up.

    TSA is the biggest government boondoggle yet. I actually feel less safe with those inept clowns running ‘security’ than I would with no security at all. Billions of tax dollars and not one terrorist caught. Now tell me what a wonderful job they are doing.

  15. yankinwaoz says:

    Did you all see this TSA recruitment TV ad?

  16. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:
  17. Harry Greek says:

    Let the dude with a criminal record in, keep me with a 16oz. drink out.

    Thank you TSA – great job.

  18. pika2000 says:

    Again, why do we still have the TSA again?