HONOLULU – An investigation into why Honolulu International Airport security officers failed to screen some checked bags for explosives says the slip-up might not have happened if Transportation Security Administration supervisors did a better job of overseeing the officers.
The probe from the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general's office, released Tuesday, said the incident at the airport's Lobby 4 two years ago may have been avoided if adequate staff and screening equipment had been provided.
The report recommends that the TSA revise job descriptions for checked baggage supervisors and managers to clarify their responsibilities. It says the TSA should ensure supervisors and managers are trained on their responsibilities to ensure screening is done as required.
Investigators said the TSA doesn't know how many bags weren't screened at Lobby 4, which handles mostly international passengers traveling to Asia, the Pacific and Canada, in 2010. The security lapse came to light after two Honolulu employees told officials thousands of bags weren't checked properly or screened for traces of explosives.
The TSA last year fired or suspended dozens of employees after its own investigation, taking the single largest personnel action for misconduct in the federal agency's history.
The inspector general's office did the probe in response to a request by U.S. Reps. John L. Mica, R-Fla., and Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to investigate why TSA screeners "dramatically failed" in their responsibilities.
The 50-page report dated Sept. 27 said the TSA had a fragmented and inconsistent process for developing and evaluating changes to baggage screening, and this may have contributed to the problem.
Further, it said TSA management at headquarters and in Honolulu didn't provide the staffing and more efficient equipment needed for screening.
For example, the report said TSA management had security officers move bags for screening to another area 500 feet away because they didn't have enough machines. The officers had to load bags onto carts, move the carts through crowds of passengers, unload the bags, screen them and then take the luggage back to where they picked them up.
The TSA in a statement Tuesday it recently reviewed job duties and responsibilities to update position descriptions for checked baggage supervisors and managers.
The agency said it launched a new training course in July designed to help supervisors establish a leadership presence while on duty.