New Project Highlight - Improving workforce performance among TSOs

January 30, 2019
Airport Security Checkpoint


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. 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.

This CAOE project, which began work in the fall of 2018, is the first of its kind to focus on how TSA's current policies and procedures are impacting the performance of TSA's workforce.  Using social psychology, management science and human systems engineering to understand how the current work environment and formal procedures are affecting performance, the first phase of this study is simulating common screening tasks in a controlled research environment to examine and quantify how different rules and work environments can positively change the performance level of frontline TSOs.   The next steps for the project will be to report these findings to TSA leadership, along with procedural recommendations that can be implemented in the field to improve workforce retention and create greater resilience to evolving security threats.