Improving the performance of TSO work

Improving the performance of TSO work
Operations research and systems analysis
Past Projects


Improving Workforce Empowerment and System Resilience: Identifying Sociotechnical System Predictors of TSO Performance and Retention

As a high-reliability organization operating with limited resources, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is faced with the challenge of balancing operational efficiency in a high-volume stressful environment with zero tolerance for errors. This organizational environment places extreme pressures on TSA and its workforce. To date, there has been no systematic study of how TSA's current policies and procedures impact the culture of safety and excellence for the front-line TSA workers. 

While improvements to TSA checkpoint operations have included procedural changes, workforce training/re-testing and technological innovation, none of these strategies alone will eliminate the evolving threats to national security. National security threats are more dangerous and complex than at any time in the recent past, especially as terrorist groups decentralize and aspiring violent extremists become increasingly diffuse. Little is known about how TSA’s organizational controls impact the ability of its front-line workforce to adapt to new threats or how TSA can address current workforce issues in the long term, for both officers and the overall organization.


This project is using social psychology, management science and human systems engineering to understand how the current work environment and the formal procedures are affecting performance, retention and resilience in TSA operations. The results of the project will support TSA in making data-driven decisions that can impact front-line procedures, work allocations structures and technology implementation with the goal of a creating a more empowered and performance driven front-line workforce. This will drive higher workforce retention and greater resilience to respond to the evolving security threats.


Improving the performance of TSO work

Transportation Security Officers (TSOs), have the challenging job of being on the frontline of protecting our nation's transportation systems. The CAOE, is examining new methods that will increase the efficiency and decrease the turnover rate of TSOs by improving processes to increase TSO job satisfaction and airport safety.

Research Leadership Team

Principal Investigator:  Erin Chiou, Arizona State University