WASHINGTON – Today, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) issued a statement in response to a report from the Inspector General (IG) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finding the former Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Deputy Administrator, current Chief Counsel, and former Office of Professional Responsibility Assistant Administrator interfered with disciplinary procedures designed to prevent favoritism:
“Today’s report by the Inspector General confirms senior staff at the Transportation Security Administration intentionally bypassed their own rules and provided ‘unusually favorable treatment’ to a senior executive who had been recommended for removal on the basis of his misconduct.
“TSA must immediately implement the Inspector General’s recommendations to ensure it conducts all disciplinary actions in a fair and impartial manner without regard to position while also protecting the rights of whistleblowers. The Committee will continue to investigate allegations of misconduct, mismanagement, and whistleblower retaliation to ensure we hold TSA officials accountable for their actions.”
On April 26, 2016, Ranking Member Cummings and former Chairman Jason Chaffetz sent a letter asking TSA for an independent review of their disciplinary procedures, after which TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger requested the DHS IG conduct the review.
The report issued by the IG today finds:
“TSA senior leaders deviated from standard policy and practice in a number of key respects indicating that the TSES Employee received unusually favorable treatment in the resolution of his disciplinary matter. Our review specifically found that former Deputy Administrator Mark Hatfield, Chief Counsel Francine Kerner, and former Office of Professional Responsibility Assistant Administrator Heather Book each interfered with the disciplinary process in a way that circumvented the very TSA policies and procedures that were established to prevent favoritism in such circumstances.”