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DENVER - NOVEMBER 22: A traveler undergoes an enhanced pat down by a Transportation Security Administration agent at the Denver International Airport on November 22, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The TSA is bracing for heavy traffic before the Thanksgiving holiday, as two separate internet campaigns are promoting a 'National Opt-Out Day' protest during which travelers are urged to refuse the new body scanners because of concerns over privacy and possible exposure to radiation. Those passengers who refuse the scans must instead undergo an enhanced pat down by TSA agents, which could further slow down security lines on the busiest air travel day of the year. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Amidst all of the criticism of the Transportation Security Administration over its implementation of President Obama’s plans for invasive image scanners or pat-down procedures that involve touching airline passengers’ private parts an inspector general’s report has been released blasting the training procedures for the agents.

“At one airport. TSA officials allow TSOs to bypass the use of the Online Learning Center and provided little time for training because of staffing challenges,” said the newly released report. “One lead TSO indicated that he had not accssed the Online Learning Center since 2005.”

The report, dated October 2010 and released just a short time ago, continued, “The TSO also explained that staff had limited time to read printed training materials in lieu of going online. Therefore, the staff is encouraged to simply sign off on the materials and receive credit for taking the courses without providing evidence of reading or understanding the information.

“The federal security director at this airport acknowledged these practices and said that he had been encouraging the training manager to have the TSOs use the Onling Learning Center,” the report said.

Titled “Transportation Security Administration’s Management of Its Screening Workforce Training Program Can Be Improved,” it was signed off by Anne Richards, assistant inspector general for audits. It focused on the “efficacy of the Transportation Security Administration’s management of its Transportation Security Officer training program.”

Join tens of thousands of Americans in a petition demanding action against the intrusive airport screening procedures implemented by Janet Napolitano and send a letter to Congress, President Obama and others telling them exactly what you think about the issue.

The issue has erupted into headlines and protests during this month as the agency rolled out new requirements that demand passengers go through a scanning process through which essentially nude images are produced for TSA agents to screen, or submit to a hands-on full-body pat-down that includes agents touching private areas of the passengers’ bodies.

Lawsuits already have been filed over the apparent violations of the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and various organizations are encouraging passengers simply to quit flying.

A passenger listens to instructions from a TSA agent as he undergoes a full body scan before boarding his flight at Washington Reagan National Airport in Washington November 22, 2010. U.S. authorities will reconsider airline passenger screening procedures that have caused public uproar on the eve of the busy holiday travel season, the top transport security official said on Monday.   REUTERS/Jason Reed  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW TRANSPORT)

There also have been announced state plans to prosecute TSA agents who violate state pornography or sexual assault laws, and doctors have warned of a long list of contagious diseases agents could pass from one passenger to another in the process. There also have been warnings the scanning machines could cause cancer.

A lawyer who brought one of the cases explained that passengers could thank President Obama for the procedures, since Congress had considered a proposal for the change, but had not acted on it so the president brought about the changes through his orders.

Further, a petition, already signed by tens of thousands, was launched demanding action against the intrusive airport screening procedures implemented by Janet Napolitano, and a campaign was assembled to allow Americans to send a letter to Congress, President Obama and others telling them exactly should happen with the program.

The IG’s report said, “Without a documented process for updating training based on screener performance data and changes in technology or equipment, the Transportation Security Administration may be missing opportunities to enhance its officers’ skills and abilities.”

Among the report’s observations:

  • The agency … has not documented procedures to determine or allocate the equipment, support, and time needed for the workforce to complete training requirements, and provides little centralized oversight of the training program.

  • Division officials explained that they have not established measurements of program effectiveness because the division and the training program are still developing and continue to “play catchup.”
  • TSA has not implemented a formal program for selecting and dispatching fully qualified on-the-job training monitors. … At five of the eight airports we visited, the TSOs were assigned only one on-the-job training monitor.
  • TSA may not always provide TSOs with the equipment and support they need to effectively complete required training.
  • TSA has not developed a standard process to identify and coordinate the necessary computer support, such as machines, bandwidth, and location of machines, to ensure that the tools available are adjusted to meet current or future needs.
  • At the airports we visited, airport management and TSOs explained that some training computers were slow or malfunctioning at times. The TSOs noted that the computer startup time was not factored into the training time scheduled.
  • [The agency] has not identified the appropriate number of training computers needed at each airport. The original computer allocation was conducted in 2003…
  • Training computers are sometimes placed far from the checkpoint or checked baggage areas, requiring TSOs to spend part of their allotted training time traveling to and from the computer locations.

“According to an … official, when TSA deployed a new generation of x-ray machines to 81 airports, the updated recurrent training for TSOs with these machines had not been implemented because of software problems. TSOs were still training with x-ray images from older generation equipment, which limits their ability to identify prohibited items using the current checkpoint equipment,” the report said.

The report recommended solutions for the problems it found, including documenting training procedures, identifying the time and resources needed and then making provision for those.

In its embedded responses, TSA concurred, promising upgrades including a “new Program Management Support Services contract … to document methodologies, processes and procedures.”

But many of its solutions, the TSA noted, will not be implemented for a good while, projecting some of them to be addressed in the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2011.

The IG report said the issues, which it observed as Dallas, Houston, John F. Kennedy, Newark, Orlando, San Diego, Phoenix and Tampa airports, would remain under observation.

One of the TSA’s ideas is more bureaucracy and government.

In a memo to IG Richard Skinner from John Pistole, chief of the TSA, were plans for a “TSA Academy.”

“TSA is exploring the feasibility of establishing a TSA Academy,” the memo said.


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