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Scandal: TSA Fires Workers for Bribery

Travelers Today       By    Carly Okyle

Updated: Jun 16, 2012 11:15 PM EDT

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On Friday, The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that seven Philadelphia International Airport workers will likely be fired, Yahoo News reports. The TSA says that those workers were involved in a bribery scheme.

In November, 10 employees were suspended from their jobs as security workers because they allegedly bribed a training instructor to give them passing scores on their mandatory annual proficiency exams.

After an investigation that lasted eight months, both the TSA management at the airport and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General found conclusively the employees were involved in the scheme.
After the investigation, three of the workers resigned, and the TSA said it is taking steps to fire the remaining seven.

"TSA holds all of its employees to the highest standards of conduct and accountability," Chris McLaughlin said in a statement. McLaughlin works for the Office of Security Operations. "Any employee who willfully violates TSA rules will be held accountable for their conduct and appropriately disciplined."

Shannon Gilliam used to be a TSA training instructor. Gilliam's job was, in part, to train and test workers who screened passengers and baggage. In February, she pleaded guilty in a federal court to accepting $200 in exchange for securing a passing grade on the annual certification test. She guaranteed the passing score by taking the exam in the security officer's stead. Philly.com reports that the officer had failed the exam twice before. As punishment, Gilliam was sentenced to 300 hours of community service and six months of house arrest. After that she will be on probation for four years.

"While I appreciate TSA taking decisive action and making clear that such behavior will not be tolerated, this episode raises serious questions in the minds of the public," Congressman Patrick Meehan (R., Pa.) said in a statement. He chairs the Homeland Security subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence. "If this bribery scheme could happen in Philadelphia, it could happen anywhere in the transportation security system.TSA needs to report to Congress urgently on what it is doing to ensure the integrity of the TSA training and testing process. Nothing less than the public's confidence in our aviation security is at stake."

The TSA has also been under fire for security breaches. In May, a report from Charles K. Edwards, the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, said that the organization does not handle airport security breaches adequately.

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