oversight

Aviation Security: Federal Air Marshal Service Is Addressing Challenges of Its Expanded Mission and Workforce, but Additional Actions Needed

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-11-19.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                United States General Accounting Office

GAO             Report to Congressional Requesters




November 2003
                AVIATION SECURITY

                Federal Air Marshal
                Service Is Addressing
                Challenges of Its
                Expanded Mission and
                Workforce, but
                Additional Actions
                Needed




GAO-04-242
                                                November 2003


                                                AVIATION SECURITY

                                                Federal Air Marshal Service Is
Highlights of GAO-04-242, a report to           Addressing Challenges of Its Expanded
congressional requesters
                                                Mission and Workforce, but Additional
                                                Actions Needed


To help strengthen aviation
                                                To deploy its expanded workforce by July 1, 2002, a deadline set by the
security after the September 11,
2001, terrorist attacks, the                    Deputy Secretary of Transportation, the Service used expedited procedures
Congress expanded the size and                  to obtain interim secret security clearances for air marshal candidates and
mission of the Federal Air Marshal              provided abbreviated training for them. These procedures allowed
Service (the Service) and located               candidates with interim clearances to work until they received their final
the Service within the newly                    top-secret clearances. Because of a governmentwide demand for clearances,
created Transportation Security                 nearly a quarter of the active air marshals had not received their top-secret
Administration (TSA). Between                   clearances as of July 2003; but by October 2003, only about 3 percent were
November 2001 and July 1, 2002,                 awaiting their top-secret clearances. To train its expanded workforce before
the Service grew from fewer than                the Deputy Secretary’s deployment deadline, the Service incrementally
50 air marshals to thousands, and               revised and abbreviated its curriculum.
its mission expanded to include the
protection of domestic as well as
international flights. In March                 The Service has begun to develop management information, policies, and
2003, the Service, with TSA,                    procedures to support its expanded workforce and mission, but it has not
merged into the new Department of               yet completed this major effort. For example, it replaced a manual system
Homeland Security (DHS); and in                 for scheduling flight duty with an automated system, but it has not yet
November 2003, it was transferred               developed an automated means to monitor the effectiveness of its
from TSA and merged into DHS’s                  scheduling controls designed to prevent air marshals’ fatigue. In addition, it
Bureau of Immigration and                       has gathered and used information on potential security incidents and on air
Customs Enforcement (ICE). GAO                  marshals’ reasons for separation from the Service to improve its operations
looked at operational and                       and workforce management. However, some of this information is not clear
management control issues that                  or detailed enough to facilitate follow-up. Finally, the Service has
emerged during the rapid
                                                implemented policies needed to support its expansion.
expansion of the Service,
specifically addressing its (1)
background check procedures and                 The Service is likely to face challenges in implementing changes resulting
training; (2) management                        from its mergers into DHS and ICE, including changes to its roles,
information, policies, and                      responsibilities, and training and to its procedures for coordinating with
procedures; and (3) challenges                  TSA’s security organizations, as well as administrative changes. GAO’s
likely to result from its mergers               recent work on mergers and organizational transformations proposes
into DHS and ICE.                               several key practices—set implementation goals, establish a communication
                                                strategy, and involve employees to obtain their ideas—and associated
                                                implementation steps that could help the Service implement such changes.
GAO is making recommendations
designed to improve the Service’s               Training Air Marshal Candidates to Shoot from a Seated Position
data on flight duty and information
on separations. DHS agreed with
GAO’s recommendations and
expressed a commitment to
continuous improvement as the
Service moves forward.


www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-04-242.

To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact Gerald L.
Dillingham at (202) 512-2834 or
dillinghamg@gao.gov.
Contents


Letter                                                                                   1
               Results in Brief                                                          3
               Background                                                                5
               Expediting Background Checks and Training Enabled the Service
                 to Meet the Deputy Secretary’s Deployment Deadline                      7
               Management Information, Policies, and Procedures Have Not Kept
                 Pace with Expanded Operations                                         13
               Key Practices and Implementation Steps Can Help Address Merger
                 Implementation Challenges                                             24
               Conclusions                                                             28
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                    28
               Agency Comments                                                         29

Appendix I     Scope and Methodology                                                   31



Appendix II    Demographic Profile of the Federal Air Marshal
               Service                                                                 35



Appendix III   Locations of the Federal Air Marshal Service’s
               21 Field Offices and Training Facility                                  37



Appendix IV    Events Affecting the Federal Air Marshal Service,
               September 2001 through October 2002                                     38



Appendix V     Mission-Related Incidents Reported by Federal Air
               Marshals, by Broad Categories, September 15, 2001 —
               September 16, 2003                                  39



Appendix VI    Key Practices and Implementation Steps for
               Mergers and Organizational Transformations                              40




               Page i                               GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
Appendix VII   Contacts and Acknowledgments                                                              41
               GAO Contacts                                                                              41
               Acknowledgments                                                                           41


Figures
               Figure 1: Federal Air Marshal Service Workforce by Gender, by
                        Percentage, as of August 2003.                                                   35
               Figure 2: Federal Air Marshal Service Workforce by Age, by
                        Percentage, as of August 2003.                                                   35
               Figure 3: Federal Air Marshal Service Workforce by Race, by
                        Percentage, as of August 2003.                                                   36




               Abbreviations

               DHS               Department of Homeland Security
               DOT               Department of Transportation
               FAA               Federal Aviation Administration
               IG                Inspector General
               ICE               Immigration and Customs Enforcement
               LEAP              law enforcement availability pay
               OPM               Office of Personnel Management
               PDA               personal digital assistants
               TSA               Transportation Security Administration



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               Page ii                                          GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   November 19, 2003

                                   The Honorable Christopher Shays
                                   Chairman, Subcommittee on National Security,
                                    Emerging Threats and International Relations
                                   Committee on Government Reform
                                   House of Representatives

                                   The Honorable Diane E. Watson
                                   House of Representatives

                                   Within 10 months of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the
                                   United States, the number of federal air marshals grew from fewer than 50
                                   to thousands;1 and within 2 years, the Federal Air Marshal Service (the
                                   Service) underwent three organizational transfers. More specifically, the
                                   Congress, through a provision of the Aviation and Transportation Security
                                   Act, enacted on November 19, 2001,2 authorized a dramatic expansion of
                                   the Service’s mission and workforce and transferred authority over the
                                   Service from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to the
                                   Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Under this legislation, the
                                   Service’s mission grew from preventing hijackings on international flights
                                   to protecting passengers, crews, and aircraft from terrorist activities on
                                   both domestic and international flights. Additionally, the Deputy Secretary
                                   of Transportation set a goal of hiring, training, and deploying thousands of
                                   new air marshals by July 1, 2002. After the passage of the Homeland
                                   Security Act, the Service moved with TSA from the Department of
                                   Transportation (DOT) to the newly created Department of Homeland
                                   Security (DHS) on March 1, 2003. Finally, in September 2003, the Secretary
                                   of Homeland Security announced that the Service would be transferred
                                   from TSA to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),
                                   another law enforcement agency within the new department. Following
                                   this transfer, which was supposed to take place on November 2, 2003, the
                                   Secretary said that the Bureau’s three law enforcement workforces—air
                                   marshals, immigration agents, and customs agents—would be cross-
                                   trained to create a “surge capacity” for responding to security threats.



                                   1
                                    The exact number of federal air marshals is classified.
                                   2
                                    Public Law 107-71, November 19, 2001.



                                   Page 1                                             GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
    The rapid expansion of the Service led to a number of operational and
    management control issues, which surfaced in national media reports of
    allegations that the Service conducted inadequate background checks on
    newly hired air marshals, slashed its training program to expedite the air
    marshals’ deployment, and failed to meet the needs of its air marshal
    workforce. For example, the Service allegedly over- or underscheduled air
    marshals for flight duty and reneged on promises of transfers to
    alternative locations, thereby creating dissatisfaction with the Service that,
    according to some reports, led to a flood of air marshal resignations.

    Within the context of these allegations, our objective was to look at
    operational and management control issues related to the Service’s
    expansion. We also considered implications of the Service’s organizational
    realignment. Specifically, as agreed with your offices, we addressed the
    following questions:

•   What procedures for obtaining background checks and providing training
    did the Service use to expedite the deployment of its expanded workforce
    to meet the Deputy Secretary’s July 2002 deadline?

•   To what extent has the Service developed management information and
    policies and procedures to support its expanded mission and workforce?

•   What challenges is the Service likely to face as a result of its recent
    mergers into DHS and ICE?

    To answer these questions, we analyzed program data; interviewed Service
    and TSA officials; and reviewed documentation from the Service and TSA
    on background checks and training; scheduling, mission incidents,
    employee misconduct, and separations; and reviewed several workforce
    policies and procedures. We also visited several facilities to look at the
    Service’s operational and management control practices and documents,
    including the Federal Air Marshal training facility and Human Resource
    Center in New Jersey, the Federal Air Marshal headquarters office in
    Virginia, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in New Mexico,
    and the Federal Air Marshal field office in Texas. To guide our assessment
    of the Service’s training, management information, and policies and
    procedures, we reviewed key GAO documents on internal controls and
    human capital management. These include our Standards for Internal
    Control in the Federal Government (GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1, November
    1999), Internal Control Management and Evaluation Tool (GAO-01-1008G,
    August 2001), Human Capital: A Guide for Assessing Strategic Training and
    Development Efforts in the Federal Government (GAO-03-893G, July



    Page 2                                     GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
                   2003), and Model of Strategic Human Capital Management (GAO-02-373SP,
                   March 2002). In addition, we used our report, Results-Oriented Cultures:
                   Implementation Steps to Assist Mergers and Organizational
                   Transformations (GAO-03-669, July 2003), to provide a framework for
                   evaluating the Service’s challenges in merging into DHS. We also reviewed
                   a March 2003 report by the DOT Inspector General (IG), which evaluated
                   the Service’s selection and hiring process, training program, and
                   scheduling process. Finally, we discussed the governmentwide
                   background investigation process with the Office of Personnel
                   Management (OPM). Our analysis of the operational and management
                   control issues related to the Service’s expansion focuses primarily on the
                   period from November 2001 through September 2003, when the Service
                   was part of TSA; our assessment of the challenges related to the Service’s
                   mergers is, in part, prospective. We conducted our review from September
                   2002 through October 2003 in accordance with generally accepted
                   government auditing standards. See appendix I for a more detailed
                   discussion of our scope and methodology.


                   The Service used expedited procedures for obtaining background checks
Results in Brief   and abbreviated the training for air marshals so that it could deploy its
                   expanded workforce by the Deputy Secretary’s July 2002 deadline. Under
                   the expedited background check procedures, which other federal agencies
                   also often use, candidates who pass preliminary background checks are
                   able, within about 24 hours, to obtain interim secret security clearances
                   that allow them to work until their full background checks are completed.
                   Thousands of candidates underwent preliminary background checks, and
                   the majority of them obtained interim security clearances. Obtaining final
                   top-secret clearances has taken longer—sometimes up to a year—and as
                   of July 2003, nearly a quarter of the active air marshals were still operating
                   under interim clearances. By October 2003, about 3 percent of active air
                   marshals were still awaiting their top-secret clearances. OPM attributed
                   the delays to the governmentwide demand for security clearances after
                   September 11, 2001. To deploy the necessary number of air marshal
                   candidates by the Deputy Secretary’s deadline, the Service identified the
                   skills critical for initial deployment and incrementally revised and
                   abbreviated its training curriculum between October 2001 and July 2002.
                   Then, to ensure that all newly hired air marshals were provided with
                   training in advanced skills, the Service established an additional 4-week
                   course and required all candidates hired after October 2001 to complete
                   the training by mid-2004. It is unclear how the Service’s transfer to the
                   Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement will affect this
                   requirement.


                   Page 3                                    GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
The Service has begun to develop management information, policies, and
procedures to support its expanded mission and workforce, but it has not
yet completed this major effort. For example, it has replaced the manual
system that it formerly used to schedule fewer than 50 air marshals for
flight duty with an automated system that it can use to schedule thousands
of air marshals on thousands of flights; however, it has not yet developed
an automated means to monitor the effectiveness of controls designed to
prevent overscheduling so that air marshals do not become fatigued.
Preventing fatigue is important because, if air marshals are not alert, their
ability to carry out their mission may be diminished. The Service has made
effective use of some management information—by, for example,
establishing a liaison with the airlines after air marshals’ mission reports
indicated problems with coordination and communication. However,
supervisors’ summaries of air marshals’ reasons for separating—as of July
2003, about 10 percent of newly hired marshals had separated—are not
detailed enough for management to identify and respond to specific
problems, such as dissatisfaction with the Service’s transfer policy. The
Service initially lacked a means of obtaining input from its employees for
use in improving its operations and management, but it has started to
implement such processes. Finally, the Service has implemented policies
and procedures needed to support its expansion from a single office with a
budget of about $4.4 million in fiscal year 2001 to an organization with 21
field offices and a budget of $545 million in fiscal year 2003. For example,
it implemented a policy on transfers between field offices and issued a
written dress code policy. We are recommending that the Service
automate the comparison of actual hours worked with scheduled hours to
monitor the effectiveness of its scheduling controls and develop improved
information on air marshals’ reasons for separation. The Department of
Homeland Security agreed that information on actual hours worked
should be automated and acknowledged a need to improve the quality of
the information the Service collects from departing air marshals.

The Service is likely to face challenges in implementing changes resulting
from its mergers into the new Department of Homeland Security in March
2003 and into the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in
November 2003. While the new department, within the context of guidance
from the Congress and the administration, is primarily responsible for
determining what changes will occur, the Service is responsible for
implementing them. At this time, changes are likely in the roles,
responsibilities, and training of air marshals, assuming that the Secretary
of Homeland Security’s plan to cross-train the Bureau’s three law
enforcement workforces is implemented so that each group can perform
the others’ responsibilities. Developing procedures for coordinating with


Page 4                                   GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
             TSA will also be important to help ensure a comprehensive, unified
             approach to aviation security, now that the Service is separated
             organizationally from the other groups with aviation security functions in
             TSA. Finally, changes will be needed to resolve differences in the pay
             systems and compensation of air marshals, immigration agents, and
             customs agents. Our recent work on mergers and organizational
             transformations proposes several key practices—setting implementation
             goals and a time line to build momentum and show progress from day one,
             establishing a communication strategy to create shared expectations and
             report related progress, and involving employees to obtain their ideas and
             gain their ownership for the transformation—and associated
             implementation steps that can assist the Service as it addresses the
             challenges in merging into the department and the Bureau. In an earlier
             report, we recommended these and other key practices to the department.3


             FAA’s Federal Air Marshal program expanded the Sky Marshal program,
Background   which was established as part of the Customs Service in the 1970s to deter
             hijackings to and from Cuba. Shortly after TWA Flight 847 was hijacked in
             Athens, Greece, in June 1985, then President Ronald Reagan called for an
             expansion of the Sky Marshal program. On August 8, 1985, the Congress
             enacted the International Security and Development Cooperation Act,4
             which established the statutory basis for the program within DOT, which
             further delegated the responsibility to FAA.5 Since then, the Federal Air
             Marshal program has provided specially trained, armed teams of civil
             aviation security specialists for deployment worldwide on antihijacking
             missions.

             As a result of the events of September 11, 2001, the President and the
             Congress decided to rapidly expand the Service. On September 17, 2001,
             FAA began to develop a plan to recruit federal air marshals in
             unprecedented numbers. Accordingly, FAA designed a process and put
             together a team of specialists, incorporating resources from its Human
             Resource Management, Aviation Medical, Civil Aviation Security, and
             Federal Air Marshal Training organizations to implement the recruitment



             3
              U.S. General Accounting Office, Homeland Security: Management Challenges Facing
             Federal Leadership, GAO-03-260 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 20, 2002).
             4
             Public Law 99-83, August 8, 1985.
             5
             49 C.F.R. Sec. 1.47(p)(1).




             Page 5                                       GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
process. The process was designed to ensure that each air marshal
candidate met the medical entry standards, passed DOT’s drug-testing
program, and was preliminarily judged suitable to obtain a top-secret
clearance, which is required for permanent employment with the Service.
As part of the assessment, each candidate was required to participate in a
security interview with an investigator from FAA, OPM, or the U.S.
Investigative Services (an OPM contractor6), as well as interviews with
representatives of FAA’s Office of Human Resource Management and the
Service. In October 2001, FAA implemented this recruitment process, and
the Deputy Secretary of Transportation also set July 1, 2002, as the
deadline for recruiting, hiring, and training enough federal air marshals to
provide coverage on flights that posed high security risks. In November
2001, after the Aviation and Transportation Security Act was passed, TSA
assumed FAA’s responsibilities for aviation security and supported FAA’s
recruitment effort through July 2002.

Between October 2001 and July 2002, TSA received nearly 200,000
applications for federal air marshal positions. Thousands of applicants
were assessed for employment, and TSA, through OPM, initiated full
background investigations for top-secret clearances. Other federal
agencies also made law enforcement officers available to augment the
Service until TSA could hire, train, and deploy the first few classes of new
air marshals. See appendix II for a demographic profile of the Service’s
expanded workforce.

With expansion, the Service’s annual budget grew from $4.4 million for
fiscal year 2001 to $545 million for fiscal year 2003. Currently, the Service
operates a headquarters office in Virginia, 21 field offices, and a
specialized air marshal training and human resource facility in Atlantic
City, New Jersey. Basic law enforcement training takes place at the
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico. See
appendix III for a map of these facilities and appendix IV for a time line of
the major organizational events affecting the Service since September 11,
2001.

DHS brings together some 23 federal agencies comprising over 100
organizations, including the Federal Air Marshal Service, in what the
department describes as the most significant transformation of the U.S.



6
 OPM contracts primarily with U.S. Investigative Services to check the applicants’ personal
records and often to conduct face-to-face interview with friends, colleagues, and family.




Page 6                                           GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
                           government since the merger in 1947 of the various branches of the armed
                           forces into the Department of Defense. DHS is divided into five
                           directorates, one of which, Border and Transportation Security, includes
                           both TSA and ICE. Among other organizations, ICE includes a portion of
                           the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, now called the Bureau
                           of Citizenship and Immigration Services; the U.S. Customs Service now
                           called Customs and Border Protection; and, as of November 2, 2003, the
                           Federal Air Marshal Service.


                           To expedite the deployment of thousands of air marshals, the Service
Expediting                 obtained preliminary background checks and provided abbreviated
Background Checks          training before deploying air marshal candidates on flights. As a result, the
                           Service was able to meet the Deputy Secretary’s deployment deadline and
and Training Enabled       carry out its mission.
the Service to Meet
the Deputy
Secretary’s
Deployment Deadline

Initial Deployment Was     To deploy its expanded workforce as quickly as possible between October
Swift, but Completion of   2001 and June 2002, the Service followed the same expedited background
Final Background           check procedures that federal agencies have used since 1995, when
                           Executive Order 12968 authorized the temporary use of interim security
Investigations Has Been    clearances.7 Under these procedures, candidates who require security
Slow                       clearances and pass preliminary background checks may, within about 24
                           hours, obtain interim security clearances that allow them to work until
                           their full background checks have been completed and they obtain their
                           final clearances. A preliminary background check consists of an interview
                           with a security specialist; a review of an applicant’s responses to a
                           standard questionnaire for national security positions; a criminal history
                           check, based on fingerprints and a review of biographical data from




                           7
                            Executive Order 12968, dated August 2, 1995, authorizes agencies to grant employees
                           temporary eligibility for access to classified information while the initial investigation is
                           under way. When such eligibility is granted, the initial investigation shall be expedited.




                           Page 7                                              GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
National Crime Information Center files;8 and credit reports. An interim
security clearance may be revoked at any time if unfavorable information
is identified during an investigation.

Between October 2001 and July 2002, thousands of candidates were
assessed for employment, and TSA, through OPM, initiated full
background investigations for top-secret clearances. According to TSA
management, the majority of the candidates passed the preliminary
background checks and obtained interim security clearances that allowed
them to work while their full background checks were being completed.
Less than a quarter of the candidates did not pass the preliminary checks
because of bankruptcy, bad credit, or other problems. TSA placed these
candidates on a “pending/ready” list and did not allow them to work as air
marshals, but it pursued full background investigations for them because
many of the issues identified during preliminary background checks are
minor and are favorably resolved during full background investigations.
Full background checks for thousands of candidates identified a small
number as unsuitable. In June 2003, the Service placed 80 air marshal
candidates on administrative leave while TSA resolved issues that
surfaced during full background investigations. By August 2003, 47 of
these candidates had received their top-secret clearances and have since
been returned to flight status. Of the 33 remaining candidates, 19 have
been denied clearances, and the Service is taking steps to terminate their
employment; 4 have been approved for, but have not yet received, top-
secret clearances; 7 have resigned; and the remaining 3 are awaiting TSA’s
approval of their top-secret clearances. The Service said it has continued
to identify some candidates as unsuitable, and as of October 2003, 14 air
marshals were on administrative leave because of issues that surfaced
during full background checks. When definitive information for each of
these cases is obtained, the Service said, the air marshal would be
returned to flight status or steps would be taken to terminate the air
marshal’s employment.

During our review, we found that the background investigations used to
grant top-secret clearances for air marshals were not being expedited as



8
 The National Crime Information Center is a computerized index of criminal justice
information (i.e., information on criminal record histories, fugitives, stolen properties,
missing persons) located at Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Criminal Justice
Information Services Division in Clarksburg, West Virginia. It is available to federal, state,
and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies 24 hours a day, 365 days a
year.




Page 8                                              GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
requested. According to TSA, an expedited background investigation costs
$3,195 and should be completed within 75 days, whereas a regular
background check costs $2,700 and should be completed within 120 days.
Consequently, for every 1,000 background investigations, the Service paid
a premium of about $495,000. TSA paid the expedited fees to OPM up
front, as required,9 but as of July 2003, about 23 percent of the air marshals
were still operating under interim security clearances.10 Some candidates
had been awaiting final clearances for up to a year. The Service told us in
April 2003 that it had, on numerous occasions, raised concerns about the
delays in processing final security clearances but had met with little
success. Additionally, the Service said that its efforts to reclaim the
difference in cost were unsuccessful. DHS said that TSA’s Credentialing
Office had taken steps since June 2003 to ensure that every active air
marshal was operating under a top-secret clearance; and as of October
2003, about 3 percent of the active air marshals were operating under
interim security clearances.

According to OPM, the primary reason for these clearance-processing
delays is that the agency has received an unprecedented number of
requests for background investigations governmentwide since September
2001.11 For fiscal year 2002, OPM’s data indicated that the average
processing time for 75-day expedited background checks was 96 days.
OPM said that the expedited requests received higher-priority processing
than the regular (120-day) background checks, resulting in faster
turnaround for services related to the expedited requests. OPM added that
its contractor charges premiums for expedited requests because the costs
for these requests are higher. Consequently, according to OPM, no price
adjustments are made when overall deadlines are missed.

While the Service is not responsible for the delays in completing air
marshals’ full background investigations, we found that it could have


9
 OPM bills an agency for the full amount of an investigation at the time the investigation is
scheduled.
10
 TSA’s Credentialing Program Office is responsible for adjudicating the results of air
marshals’ background investigations. This function was formerly under TSA’s Office of
Security.
11
  In his statement on June 3, 2003, before the Subcommittee on Homeland Security, House
Committee on Appropriations, the Associate Director for Human Resources Products and
Services, said that OPM was working to increase its capacity to provide background
investigations for all federal customers and had streamlined its internal processes to make
as much use as possible of automated systems.




Page 9                                             GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
                          provided OPM with information for scheduling the investigations more
                          efficiently. As candidates applied for positions between October 2001 and
                          June 2002 and their preliminary background checks were completed, the
                          Service offered conditional employment to some of the candidates and, as
                          discussed, placed others on a “pending/ready” list. However, the Service
                          did not make this information available to OPM. As a result, some
                          potential employees received their top-secret clearances ahead of other
                          candidates who were being trained or deployed on flights.12 We brought
                          this issue to the attention of the Service in March 2003; and in May, the
                          Service sent OPM a list of candidates and asked OPM to give highest
                          priority to investigations of those who were already deployed on flights. In
                          addition, the Service has asked OPM to schedule the investigations for
                          senior managers first and then to schedule investigations for other
                          applicants on a first-in, first-out basis. On May 28, 2003, the Service also
                          detailed a liaison from its Office of Field Operations to assist TSA’s Office
                          of Security in setting priorities for reviewing and adjudicating the backlog
                          of background investigations.


Changes to the Training   To deploy the requisite number of air marshals by the Deputy Secretary’s
Curriculum Helped         July 2002 deadline, the Service revised and abbreviated its training
Expedite Deployment       program. From October 2001 through July 2002, it modified the air marshal
                          curriculum incrementally, eventually reducing the original 14-week
                          program to about 5 weeks for candidates without prior law enforcement
                          experience and about 1 week for candidates with such experience. The
                          revised curriculum was designed to provide candidates with the basic law
                          enforcement knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform their
                          duties as air marshals, including knowledge of the Service’s rules and
                          regulations, physical skills, and basic and advanced marksmanship. The
                          curriculum no longer included certain elements of the original training
                          program, such as driving skills and cockpit familiarization, because these
                          were not deemed critical for air marshals to perform their duties. The
                          curriculum also eliminated a 1-week’s visit to an airline and some
                          instruction in the Service’s policies and procedures, which was to be
                          provided on the job. Moreover, although the curriculum retained
                          instruction in both basic and advanced marksmanship, air marshal
                          candidates no longer had to pass an advanced marksmanship test to



                          12
                           OPM told us in March that it had not received a prioritized list of clearances from the
                          Service, but noted that it had occasionally received requests to expedite or check the status
                          of particular investigations or to discontinue investigations that were no longer needed.




                          Page 10                                           GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
qualify for employment. Candidates were still required to pass a basic test13
with a minimum score of 255 out of a possible 300—the highest
qualification standard for any federal law enforcement agency, according
to the Service.

To provide all the newly hired air marshals with needed skills, beyond the
basic abilities the Service determined were critical for immediate
deployment, the Service instituted a new 4-week advanced training course
in October 2002. All air marshals hired from October 2001 through July
2002, regardless of their previous law enforcement experience, were
required to complete the course by January 2004. This course includes
some elements, such as emergency evacuation and flight simulator
training, that the Service did not include in the 5-week course because,
although it considered the elements important for air marshals to carry out
their mission, it did not consider them critical for immediate deployment.
In addition, the course provides further training in advanced
marksmanship skills. Air marshals hired after August 2002 attend this
advanced training course after completing their basic training. The Service
has developed a centralized tracking system to ensure that all air marshals
take this course.

Although the Service is now providing additional marksmanship training,
its decision not to restore the advanced marksmanship test14 as a
qualification standard for employment has proved controversial. Passing
this test would require candidates to demonstrate their speed and
accuracy in a confined environment similar to the environment on board
an aircraft. The DOT IG’s report suggested that the Service needed to
adopt a firearms qualification standard that was more stringent and
comprehensive than the basic firearms qualifying test. The Service
disagreed, emphasizing that its minimum score is the most stringent in
federal law enforcement and adding that its 4-week course provides
further training in advanced firearms skills. Our review of the Service’s
documentation confirmed that instruction in advanced marksmanship is a
critical part of this training, even though passing this element is no longer
a condition of employment.

In August 2003, the Service reported that proposed cutbacks in its training
funds would require it to extend the date for all air marshals hired from


13
 The federal law enforcement Practical Pistol Course (PPC).
14
 The Aircraft Tactical Pistol Course (ATPC).




Page 11                                         GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
October 2001 through July 2002 to complete the 4-week advanced course
from January 2004 to mid-2004. According to DHS, the Service’s transfer to
ICE will not adversely affect either the funding for air marshals’ training or
the schedule for newly hired air marshals to complete the 4-week training
course, since a total of $626.4 million is being transferred from TSA to ICE.
While this funding exceeds the $545 million that the Service received for
fiscal year 2003, it is not clear how much of the funding will be allocated
for training. Given the importance of training to ensure that air marshals
are prepared to carry out their mission, we believe that maintaining
adequate funding for training should remain a priority. Additionally,
should reductions in the funding for training be required, our recent work
on strategic training and development efforts provides alternatives that an
agency can consider to across-the-board cuts—such as evaluating training
needs, setting training priorities, developing alternative training
requirement scenarios, and determining how much funding each of these
scenarios would require.15 Our work further suggests that it is important
for agencies to ensure that their training and development efforts are cost
effective, given the anticipated benefits and to incorporate measures that
can be used to demonstrate contributions that training and development
programs make to improve results. These principles are applicable at all
times, but especially when funds are limited. Determining whether air
marshals with prior law enforcement experience have the same training
needs as those without such experience could help set cost-effective
training priorities.

We found that a cornerstone of human capital management is the ability to
successfully acquire, develop, and retain talent. Investing in and enhancing
the value of employees through training and development is a crucial part
of addressing this challenge. This investment can include not only formal
and on-the-job-training but also other opportunities, such as rotational
assignments. Our work further specifies that agencies should link their
training curriculum to the competencies needed for them to accomplish
their mission. The Service has begun developing a formal training
curriculum beyond the basic and advanced training courses described
above. This curriculum requires air marshals to participate in 5 days of
recurrent training each quarter that, in addition to the quarterly weapons
qualification, includes training in advanced firearms, operational tactics,



15
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Human Capital: A Guide for Assessing Strategic
Training and Development Efforts in the Federal Government, GAO-03-893G
(Washington, D.C.: July 2003).




Page 12                                        GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
                               defensive tactics, surveillance detection, emergency medicine, physical
                               fitness, and legal and administrative elements. Additionally, the Service is
                               developing rotational assignments for air marshals that allow them to
                               participate in law enforcement task forces, as well as fill a variety of
                               operational and training positions in headquarters and the field. The
                               Service recognizes that such opportunities can not only enhance
                               professional development but also help to prevent problems such as
                               boredom and burnout. According to the Secretary of Homeland Security,
                               one of the advantages of the Service’s transfer to ICE is that it will
                               enhance air marshals’ professional development opportunities.


                               As the Service grew from a small, centralized organization to an
Management                     organization with 21 field offices and thousands of employees, its need for
Information, Policies,         information, policies, and procedures to manage its expanded workforce
                               and operations also grew. The Service collects several types of
and Procedures Have            information that it can use to continually improve its operations and
Not Kept Pace with             oversight and, in some instances, it has used the information to do so. In
                               other instances, however, the Service lacks sufficiently detailed
Expanded Operations            information for effective monitoring and oversight. The new, decentralized
                               organization has also required new or written policies and procedures to
                               cover new situations and ensure that the same guidance is available to air
                               marshals in all locations. According to DHS, it recognized that the Service
                               would need to revise its existing policies16 or draft new ones, and it has
                               been working to do so since March 2002. Nonetheless, its policy-
                               development efforts sometimes responded to problems, rather than
                               anticipating and preventing them. DHS told us that it is committed to
                               proactively addressing policy issues and developing procedures.

Management Information         The Service collects information on air marshals’ work schedules and
Is Not Sufficiently Detailed   other issues, including potential security incidents documented in reports
or Comprehensive for           filed by air marshals after completing their missions, allegations of
                               misconduct by air marshals, and reasons provided by air marshals for
Effective Monitoring and       leaving the Service. Such information can be useful to managers in
Oversight                      monitoring mission operations and retention. According to our Standards
                               for Internal Control in the Federal Government,17 the information should


                               16
                                Before being transfered to TSA in March 2002, the Service continued to follow standard
                               operating procedures designed for a small organization with one facility.
                               17
                                U.S. General Accounting Office, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal
                               Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1 (Washington, D.C.: November 1999).




                               Page 13                                         GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
                            be recorded and communicated to management and others within the
                            agency who need it, and it should be provided in a form and within a time
                            frame that enables them to carry out their responsibilities. For example,
                            one way to do this would be to ensure that pertinent information is
                            captured in sufficient detail to help management identify specific actions
                            that need to be taken. Moreover, according to our human capital model, a
                            fact-based, performance-oriented approach to human capital management
                            is a critical success factor for maximizing the value of human capital. In
                            addition, high-performing organizations use data to determine key
                            performance objectives and goals, which enable them to evaluate the
                            success of their human capital approaches. For example, obtaining
                            employee input and suggestions can provide management with firsthand
                            knowledge of the organization’s operations, which management can use to
                            ensure ongoing effectiveness and continuous improvement. The Service
                            has analyzed and made effective use of its mission reports and conduct
                            data, but other management information that it currently collects is not
                            sufficiently well defined or detailed for monitoring and managing the
                            workforce. Although the Service initially had no systematic means of
                            obtaining regular input from its employees, it has recently put processes in
                            place to solicit air marshals’ opinions and suggestions. In addition, the
                            Service is participating in an Office of Management and Budget program
                            assessment project. As part of this effort, DHS said it has identified annual
                            and long-term performance measures and related performance outcome
                            targets to evaluate the Service’s organizational effectiveness along key
                            strategic goals and objectives. Through this project and other strategic
                            planning initiatives, DHS says it expects to systematically measure and
                            analyze the Service’s organizational performance along human capital,
                            mission scheduling, professional development, and quality of work-life
                            dimensions.

Automated System Improved   When the Service was first directed to expand its mission and operations,
Scheduling, but More        it was using a manual system to schedule air marshals for flight duty. This
Information Is Needed for   system was quickly overwhelmed as the number of air marshals and flights
Monitoring                  grew, leading to the concern that air marshals were being scheduled
                            inconsistently for flight duty. The Service acknowledged that during this
                            period, some air marshals were overworked while others were
                            underutilized. In June 2002, the Service replaced the manual system with
                            an automated system, which, according to Service officials, improved the
                            agency’s ability to schedule and deploy its workforce.

                            While the automated system expanded the Service’s scheduling capability,
                            it did not provide the Service with all of the information it needed for
                            effective monitoring. For example, it did not initially break down data on


                            Page 14                                   GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
air marshals’ use of leave into enough categories for the Service to assess
whether some air marshals were abusing sick leave in order to get a day
off. Specifically, an article in USA Today reported that about 1,250 air
marshals called in sick over an 18-day period. Eventually, the Service
determined that the article was based on a report generated by the
automated scheduling system that overrepresented the number of air
marshals who were on sick leave. Although the report was labeled “Sick
Leave,” it included data on all air marshals who were unavailable for flight
duty, not only for sickness but also for other reasons such as
administrative leave, and it listed each day of unavailability for flight duty
as a separate incident, although the same air marshal might have been
unavailable for several days in a row for the same reason.

In analyzing data from the scheduling system, we found that because the
system reported all leave charges—sick, administrative, military, or
other—as sick leave, the Service could not distinguish air marshals who
were unavailable to fly because they were out sick from air marshals who
were unavailable to fly because of injuries but were available for light field
office duty. For example, an air marshal with an injured ankle might not be
able to fly, but could perform administrative work in the field office. The
Service has since modified the scheduling system to obtain better
information on the type of leave—sick, military, or administrative—
charged by air marshals who are unavailable to fly. The DOT IG also
investigated cases concerning sick leave abuse and likewise found that it
was based on a misunderstanding of the report’s contents stemming from
the report’s label.

Although the automated scheduling system provides information for
managers to monitor how many hours air marshals are scheduled for
work, automated information is not available for comparing the number of
hours actually worked with the number of hours initially scheduled. These
numbers can differ when flights are delayed or cancelled because of bad
weather or mechanical problems. Information on these differences is
important for Service managers to consider because of their implications
for both the Service’s mission and air marshals’ quality of life. For
example, if air marshals work too many hours, they may become too tired
to concentrate on their mission, or if they spend too much time away from
home, they may become dissatisfied with their jobs.

Information on the number of hours flown will also be important for the
Service to carry out a new long-term study, initiated by the Director in the
summer of 2002, on the medical and physiological effects of flying. To
date, the Service, in collaboration with FAA’s Civil Aviation Medical


Page 15                                   GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
Institute and the Air Force, has identified a methodology and objectives
for the study and completed a literature review to identify trends, possible
risks, and other pertinent information. As part of the study, the Service
plans to collect and analyze data from recurrent air marshal physical
examinations and to compare these data with physiological data from the
Civil Aviation Medical Institute. Although the Service is still awaiting
funding approval to conduct the physical examinations and develop the
database, Service officials plan to begin both efforts in the first quarter of
fiscal year 2004. The study team has also developed a training course on
human physiology as it relates to the aviation environment. The Service
expects this course to be available early in fiscal year 2004.

On the basis of some early findings from the study team’s literature search,
the Service set limits in its automated flight-scheduling system to address
mission, quality-of-life, and health concerns. The system limits scheduled
“duty time” to 10 hours a day or 50 hours a week.18 Our analysis of
schedules from the automated system for 37 weeks found that about 92
percent of the schedules were consistent with these controls.19 The Service
added that further guidance has been developed that results in scheduling
air marshals to fly an average of 4.2 hours per day, 18 days per month.
Thus, air marshals should fly about 75 hours per month, which the Service
said was within the aviation and military standards for pilots—90 and 100
hours per month, respectively. As part of implementing this guidance, the
Service is conducting a detailed analysis of individual flight schedules to
determine if the goals are being met. The Service reported on the basis of
this analysis that, as of September 2003, scheduled flight time averaged
76.5 hours per month. The Service’s analysis, however, focuses on flight
schedules and not on actual hours worked by the air marshals.
Information on the hours air marshals actually work is not available for
automated comparison with the hours they are scheduled to work because
the actual work hours are recorded manually on time and attendance
sheets and are not transferred to the automated system. Without an
automated way to compare actual hours worked with scheduled hours, the


18
  According to an analysis done by the Service, air marshals spend an average of 4 hours
and 25 minutes per workday in flight and use the remainder of the workday to prepare for
flights or layovers. Air marshals must be at the airport 1.5 hours before their first flight and
stay there 15 minutes after arrival. The combination of flight time and the aforementioned
1.5 hours and 15 minutes is referred to as “duty time.”
19
 The remaining 8 percent, Service officials explained, could be due to inconsistencies that
resulted when the Service overrode the controls to meet mission needs—to, for example,
provide sufficient coverage for Super Bowl weekend.




Page 16                                             GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
                                 Service lacks a tool needed to determine if the automated flight-scheduling
                                 system is meeting its objectives related to mission, quality-of life, and
                                 health concerns. DHS agreed that the information on actual hours should
                                 be automated and said that the Service intended to incorporate this
                                 capability via personal digital assistants (PDA) issued to all air marshals.

The Service Has Used Mission     Between September 2001 and September 2003, air marshals submitted
Reports to Improve Operations,   reports of almost 2,100 incidents that occurred during their missions. A
but Some Coordination Issues     little over 40 percent of these mission reports describe passengers that
Remain                           exhibited suspicious behavior to the air marshals. About 18 percent of the
                                 reports discuss disagreements or conflicts between air marshals and
                                 airline or airport personnel over airport or airline procedures. The
                                 remaining mission reports cover a wide variety of incidents that the
                                 Service grouped into 17 other categories, as shown in appendix V.

                                 The Service has taken some action to follow up on the air marshals’
                                 mission reports, but it has not addressed all of the issues the reports raise.
                                 For example, the Service established a liaison with the airlines in response
                                 to reports of disagreements and conflicts with the airlines. According to an
                                 official with the Air Transport Association,20 this action has improved
                                 relations between the air marshals and the airlines. Nevertheless, some
                                 coordination and communication issues remain. In October 2002, for
                                 instance, the Service purchased PDAs for distribution to all air marshals.
                                 Service officials told us that before making the purchase, they contacted
                                 FAA about obtaining approval to use the feature that would allow the air
                                 marshals to communicate with one another aboard aircraft. In August
                                 2002, FAA advised the Service that it planned to approve this PDA feature
                                 for use by air marshals during flight. However, FAA’s approval was never
                                 finalized, and the airlines have not allowed the air marshals to use the
                                 PDAs for this purpose because of concerns about interference with flight
                                 control or navigational signals. According to Service officials, air marshals
                                 have stopped using their PDAs’ communication feature in flight until FAA
                                 approves its use, and the Service continues to work with FAA to obtain
                                 such approval. The Service reports that air marshals continue to use other
                                 features of the PDAs, such as their cell phone, pager, e-mail, surveillance,
                                 and photo-display capabilities.




                                 20
                                   The Air Transport Association is a trade association for 22 major U.S. airlines and five
                                 foreign carriers.




                                 Page 17                                            GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
The Service Has Used Reports     Between October 2001 and July 2003, the Service collected data on almost
of Misconduct to Improve         600 reports of misconduct by air marshals, which it classified into over 40
Management Controls              categories. Among the categories with large numbers of reported cases
                                 were “insubordination or failure to follow orders,” “loss of government
                                 property,” and “abuse of government credit cards.” According to Service
                                 officials, they have used the misconduct database to identify issues such
                                 as abuse of government credit cards and cell phones that need to be
                                 investigated.21 For example, during the Service’s rapid expansion,
                                 management noted an unacceptable number of unauthorized charges and
                                 late payments associated with air marshals’ use of the government-issued
                                 travel card. Further investigation revealed that the process of claiming
                                 reimbursement for travel was slow and burdensome and there were
                                 misunderstandings about what charges were proper. After corrective
                                 action, the delinquency rate dropped dramatically. Similarly, an analysis of
                                 the misconduct data indicated that a number of air marshals were accused
                                 of being abusive to airline personnel during the boarding process. A
                                 detailed review of the data pointed to differences in the Service’s and the
                                 airlines procedures for boarding aircraft. Subsequently, the Service
                                 negotiated a mutually agreeable solution with the airlines to resolve these
                                 differences. In these instances, the Service used misconduct reports to
                                 effectively refine its management controls.

Information on Air Marshals’     The Service maintains data on the number of air marshals who leave the
Reasons for Leaving the          Service and categorizes their reason for leaving.22 However, these data are
Service Is Not Detailed Enough   not detailed enough for management to identify and follow up on issues
to Target Retention Efforts      that could affect retention. Retention is important both to ensure the
                                 continued deployment of experienced personnel who can carry out the
                                 Service’s security mission and to avoid the costs to recruit, train, and
                                 deploy new personnel, which, according to the Service, total about $40,275
                                 per person.

                                 Our analysis of the Service’s data on separations indicates that from
                                 September 2001 through July 2003, about 10 percent of the thousands of
                                 newly hired air marshals left the Service. However, during August 2002,
                                 when the media reported a “flood” of resignations from the Service, our



                                 21
                                   Generally, Service staff members in headquarters investigate reports of misconduct, but
                                 for more serious cases, the Service has been coordinating its investigations with TSA’s
                                 Office of Internal Affairs.
                                 22
                                   The Service selects and records one predominant reason for an air marshal’s separation
                                 from the Service, although the air marshals may have cited more than one reason.




                                 Page 18                                          GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
analysis indicated that slightly more than 4 percent of the newly hired air
marshals had left.23 We found that the most frequently recorded reasons
for air marshals separating from the Service were to take other jobs and
personal reasons.24 Such reasons are not detailed enough for management
to identify and target issues that may hinder retention.

To gain greater insight into the reasons for separation, we examined the
Service’s documentation for 95 selected cases.25 For 37 of these cases, the
departing air marshals cited multiple reasons for leaving the Service. For
example, one departing air marshal cited personal reasons and going back
to his previous job. Even with this additional information, we could not
identify management issues that might have led to the separations because
the reasons documented by the Service were too general and vague.

The Service’s method of collecting data on air marshals’ reasons for
separation may be responsible, in part, for the generality and vagueness of
the information. Specifically, the Service uses either an open-ended exit
interview with the air marshal’s first-line supervisor, the air marshal’s
resignation letter, or both to collect the data.26 The supervisor conducts
and writes up the exit interview and an administrative official in the field
forwards the interview write-up, resignation letter, or both to human
resource officials in Service headquarters. A human resource specialist
then reviews the documentation and determines which of the reasons
cited is the primary reason for the separation. This method of collecting
information has several limitations. First, the open-ended exit interview
may not prompt responses that go beyond generalities, such as taking
another job or personal reasons, to determine whether management
issues, such as problems in transferring to a duty station closer to home or
burdensome work schedules, contributed to the air marshal’s resignation.



23
  Because TSA was a newly created agency without a workforce history (including, for
example, information on deaths, retirements, transfers, and resignations), we were unable
to meaningfully compare attrition data for the Service to other federal agencies during this
period. Therefore we are not making a value judgment on the meaning of the number of
persons leaving the Service or their rate of departure. However, these data are relevant to
the resources that have to be expended to maintain a specified number of marshals in the
Service.
24
 A small number of air marshals left because they could not pass training.
25
 The details of our selection process are provided in appendix I.
26
 This documentation included an exit information form that the Service began using in
2002 to gather data from separating air marshals.




Page 19                                           GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
                                Second, using the first-line supervisor to conduct the interview may
                                discourage detailed responses, either because the air marshal may not
                                want to reveal his or her concerns or reasons or because the supervisor
                                may not want to report specific issues. Finally, using a human resource
                                specialist to determine the primary reason for a separation means that the
                                reason is filtered through another party rather than provided directly by
                                the air marshal who is resigning. Our work on human capital has
                                determined that feedback from exit interviews can guide workplace-
                                planning efforts. If these exit interviews are constructed to collect valid
                                and reliable data, they allow managers to spotlight areas for attention,
                                such as employee retention.

                                According to the DOT report, air marshals interviewed by the IG’s office
                                were concerned about the way the air marshal program was being
                                managed, which contributed to low morale in the Service. The air
                                marshals the IG interviewed expressed dissatisfaction with the Service’s
                                work schedules, aircraft boarding procedures, and dress code policy.27

The Service Initially Lacked,   During the early stages of its expansion, the Service did not have
but Has Recently Begun to       processes or mechanisms in place to gather input and suggestions from its
Implement, Processes for        employees. Such processes and mechanisms would not only allow the
Obtaining Employee Input        Service to monitor air marshals’ concerns about management issues, as
                                the DOT IG’s report also noted, but it would also provide the Service with
                                its employees’ firsthand knowledge and insights that it could use to
                                improve operations and policies. According to our work on human capital,
                                leaders at agencies with effective human capital management seek out the
                                views of employees at all levels and communication flows up, down, and
                                across the organization, facilitating continuous improvement. Tools
                                commonly used for obtaining employee input include employee
                                satisfaction surveys, employee advisory councils, and employee focus
                                groups.

                                Recently, the Service began putting processes and mechanisms in place to
                                gather input from its employees. The Service reports that all field offices
                                have methods, such as advisory committees, for air marshals to ask
                                questions or express concerns to senior field office management.
                                Additionally, question and answer sessions are held when the Director,
                                Deputy Director, or Assistant Director visits a field office and during the



                                27
                                 As discussed in appendix I, the DOT IG’s sample results cannot be projected to the
                                universe of the Service’s air marshal workforce.




                                Page 20                                          GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
                              basic and advanced training classes. To obtain further employee input, the
                              Service participated in an ombudsman program that TSA sponsors to
                              improve its operations and customer service. According to the Service, it
                              is also developing a lessons learned and best practices intranet site that
                              will allow substantive communication on issues of interest and concern to
                              all air marshals.


Developing and                Policies and procedures that were designed to support a small, centralized
Implementing Policies and     Service were not designed for and could not accommodate the needs of a
Procedures for an             vastly expanded and decentralized workforce. According to our Standards
                              for Internal Control in the Federal Government,28 internal control should
Expanded Organization         provide for an assessment of the risks an agency faces from both external
Took Time and Created         and internal sources. For example, when an agency expands its operations
Some Confusion                to new geographic areas, it needs to give special attention to the risks that
                              the expansion presents. In attempting to hire, train, and deploy its new
                              workforce by the Deputy Secretary’s deadline and establish a new field
                              organization to support its new domestic mission, the Service had little
                              time to systematically assess the risks of expansion and ensure that its
                              policies and procedures were appropriate and adequate. Efforts to develop
                              new policies or modify existing ones to accommodate new circumstances
                              took time, and during the transition, some air marshals voiced concerns to
                              the media. Delays in hiring supervisors and the discretion they were given
                              in interpreting policies may have contributed to air marshals’ confusion.

Policy on Transfers Was Not   Before its expansion, the Service was a centralized organization with one
Implemented until May 2003    office and fewer than 50 air marshals. Because there were no field offices,
                              the Service had no policy on transfers between field locations. The
                              vacancy announcement used during the hiring process stated that field
                              offices would be located in various major metropolitan areas, and a
                              Service official stated that air marshal applicants were allowed to express
                              their preferences for particular field locations. According to a media
                              report, air marshals alleged that transfers to their preferred locations were
                              promised but that those promises were not kept. Our review of a
                              recruiting video and other documents related to the hiring process did not
                              find any evidence that transfers were promised; however, the recruiting
                              video indicated that opportunities for transfer existed. Service officials
                              said that no transfers were promised and that as the Service hired air
                              marshals and implemented its new field office structure, it assigned the


                              28
                               GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.




                              Page 21                                   GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
                            newly hired marshals to the 21 field offices as needed. Service officials
                            later added that except in hardship cases, the air marshals were expected
                            to remain in the originally assigned field offices for 3 to 5 years. The DOT
                            IG also investigated this issue and interviewed air marshals who alleged
                            that promises of transfers made during the hiring process were not kept,
                            but the IG did not determine whether there was a legitimate basis for the
                            air marshals’ concerns.

                            By June 2002, the Service had received over 500 applications for transfers.
                            Until a policy was issued, the Service tried to respond to the air marshals’
                            requests and to address quality-of-life issues by developing guidance that
                            provided for transferring any air marshal (1) who owned a home within
                            100 miles of an established field office and (2) whose immediate family
                            resided in that location—provided that both of these conditions existed
                            before the air marshal’s employment with the Service. While the Service
                            communicated this guidance orally to field managers, some air marshals
                            were reportedly confused about why their requests for transfers were
                            denied.

                            In January 2003, the Service postponed further action on transfer requests,
                            officials said, until applicable policies—on hardship and transfers—were
                            finalized. On May 29, 2003, the Service implemented a hardship transfer
                            policy that established processes and criteria for approving transfer
                            requests when an air marshal or an immediate family member incurs a
                            medical or child-custody hardship. In developing the policy, the Service
                            said it looked into other law enforcement agencies’ transfer programs to
                            identify best practices.

Unwritten Policy on Dress   During the early months of the Service’s expansion, air marshals
Created Confusion           expressed confusion and dissatisfaction to the media about policies
                            covering their attire. At that time, the Service had no written dress code
                            policy. Instead, according to Service officials, the agency carried over an
                            unwritten FAA policy that air marshals should dress appropriately for
                            their missions and the air marshal in charge of a mission should determine
                            what attire was appropriate for that mission. According to the Service,
                            some airline personnel complained to the Service that marshals were not
                            dressed to blend in with other passengers in the location of the air
                            marshals’ assigned seats. The Service said that the lack of a written policy
                            might have created confusion for some newly hired air marshals whose
                            initial training did not cover the Service’s policy on dress and whose field
                            office supervisors had discretion in interpreting the policy. In May 2002,
                            the Service issued a policy that directed air marshals to dress so as to
                            present a professional image and blend into their environment. The


                            Page 22                                   GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
                             Service believes that this policy enables air marshals to perform their
                             duties without drawing undue attention to themselves. For example, an air
                             marshal might wear a business suit on a morning flight to New York and a
                             sports shirt on an afternoon flight to Orlando. To explain and ensure
                             consistent application of the policy, the Director of the Service discussed
                             this policy with supervisors and staff during his visits to many field offices
                             and to the Service’s training center.

Air Marshals Expressed       Air marshals also discussed concerns about the Service’s workweek policy
Concern about Reasons for    with the media. Some air marshals complained that they had been
Changes in Workweek Policy   promised 4-day workweeks to compensate for the rigors of travel but were
                             being required to work 5-day workweeks. Other air marshals reported
                             being confused about the reasons for the change from a 4-day to a 5-day
                             workweek and questioned whether this change was necessary.

                             According to Service officials, the change in workweek policy occurred on
                             July 1, 2002, when the Director of the Service brought the air marshals into
                             compliance with the requirements of law enforcement availability pay
                             (LEAP), a pay premium for unscheduled duty equaling 25 percent of a law
                             enforcement officer’s base salary. Under this pay computation method, air
                             marshals are required to average 10 hours of overtime per week. LEAP
                             became applicable to the Service with the passage of the Aviation and
                             Transportation Security Act on November 19, 2001, but the Service initially
                             continued to compute air marshals’ schedules according to the method it
                             had previously used, called the “first forty” method. Under this method,
                             the first 40 hours worked in a week constituted the basic workweek, and
                             4-day and even 3-day workweeks were allowed if air marshals accrued 40
                             hours within that time. However, Service officials determined, in
                             consultation with TSA’s legal department and human resources office, that
                             a change to a 5-day workweek was necessary for the Service to comply
                             with LEAP. Accordingly, the Director ordered a 5-day basic workweek,
                             effective July 1, 2002.

                             The DOT IG reported that over 85 percent of the air marshals its staff
                             interviewed expressed concern about working 5 consecutive 10-hour
                             mission days (with 2 consecutive off-duty days), saying that it resulted in
                             fatigue and illness.29 Service officials acknowledged that working 10-hour



                             29
                              Between November 2002 and February 2003, 112 air marshals were interviewed.
                             However, because of the methodology employed, the results are anecdotal and may not
                             reflect the views or experiences of all Service employees.




                             Page 23                                        GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
                           days can create fatigue,30 but said that such days are routine in the law
                           enforcement community. Service officials also maintained that fatigue can
                           be managed by applying scheduling controls and monitoring air marshals’
                           schedules. However, as noted, the Service lacks the data to ensure that air
                           marshals’ actual work hours are consistent with the scheduling controls.


                           The Service is likely to face challenges in implementing changes resulting
Key Practices and          from its mergers into DHS in March 2003 and into ICE in November 2003.
Implementation Steps       While changes in the size of its workforce could eventually occur in light
                           of the many recent improvements to aviation security and federal budget
Can Help Address           constraints, the plans announced to date point to changes in the roles,
Merger                     responsibilities, and training of ICE’s workforces; the Service’s
                           coordination with TSA and other organizations; and administrative
Implementation             matters. DHS reported looking forward to the opportunities accompanying
Challenges                 the Service’s pending merger into ICE. Our recent work on mergers and
                           organizational transformations proposes several key practices and
                           implementation steps that could assist the Service and other departmental
                           organizations as they face these challenges.


The Service Is Likely to   One challenge for the Service will be to implement any changes in the size
Face Challenges in         or in the roles and responsibilities of its workforce that the department
Implementing Changes       determines are warranted after the Service is transferred to ICE. The right
                           size of a security organization’s workforce appears to depend, among
                           other things, on the nature and scope of the terrorist threat and on the
                           totality of measures in place to protect against that threat. When the
                           Service was first directed to expand, there were fewer protective
                           measures in place than there are today. Over the past 2 years, an entire
                           “system of systems” has been established for aviation security alone. This
                           system includes not only the expanded Federal Air Marshal Service, but
                           also about 50,000 federal security screeners in the nation’s airports, 158
                           airport security directors, explosives detection equipment for passengers
                           and baggage, requirements for performing background checks on about 1
                           million airline and airport employees, reinforced cockpit doors on all
                           passenger aircraft, and authorization for pilots to carry guns in the
                           airplane cockpit. Now, as the department assesses the nation’s homeland
                           security risks, considers the constraints on federal resources, and sets



                           30
                            As previously discussed, the 10-hour workday includes the time that air marshals are
                           required to be in the airport before and after a flight as well as the time they spend in flight.




                           Page 24                                              GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
priorities, it will need to determine its appropriate size. It has already
begun to make changes in the federal security screener workforce by
reducing the total number of full-time screeners by 6,000 in fiscal year
2003 and by planning a further reduction of 3,000 full-time screeners in
fiscal year 2004 together with the hiring of part-time screeners to meet
daily and seasonal periods of higher demand.

In announcing the Service’s merger into ICE, the Secretary of Homeland
Security did not propose a change in the size of the Service’s or of ICE’s
other two law enforcement workforces, but his statement pointed to an
expansion of their roles and responsibilities that would give the
department greater flexibility to adjust its law enforcement resources
according to varying threats. Through cross-training, the Secretary said,
thousands more law enforcement agents would be available for
deployment on flights, providing a surge capacity during times of
increased aviation security threats. At the same time, air marshals may be
assigned to other law enforcement duties, as threat information dictates.

This planned expansion of the roles and responsibilities of air marshals,
immigration agents, and customs agents will pose training challenges for
ICE and its component organizations. According to the Secretary’s
announcement, the training will be centralized, which could eventually
produce some cost efficiencies, but initially a needs assessment will have
to be conducted to identify each law enforcement workforce’s additional
training requirements. Cross-training requirements and curriculums will
also have to be established and approved. Finally, each component
organization will have to coordinate the new training requirements with its
other mission requirements and schedule its officers for the cross-training.

The Service is also likely to face coordination challenges following its
transfer from TSA to ICE. In part, the transfer is designed to improve
coordination by unifying DHS’s law enforcement functions, but it also
divides aviation security responsibilities that, for about 2 years, were
under TSA. According to the Secretary, the transfer will facilitate the
coordination and sharing of law enforcement information, thereby
enhancing aviation security. However, TSA has raised questions about
how air marshals’ flights will be scheduled, and the TSA Administrator has
expressed a desire to influence the scheduling. Immigration agents have
reportedly also wondered how ICE would juggle air marshal deployments
with the bureau’s current investigative work.

Finally, the Service’s transfer to ICE poses administrative challenges for
the three component organizations. For example, the planned changes in


Page 25                                   GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
                           the roles and responsibilities of the federal law enforcement officers could
                           have implications for their performance evaluations and compensation.
                           Currently, the three groups of law enforcement officers are under different
                           pay systems and are compensated at different rates. Efforts are under way
                           to resolve these challenges.


Key Practices and          On the basis of our work on mergers and organizational transformations,
Implementation Steps Can   we identified nine key practices and 21 implementation steps that could
Help the Service Address   assist DHS in successfully merging the roles, responsibilities, and cultures
                           of the Service and the department’s other component organizations.31
Potential Merger           While these practices will ultimately be important to a successful merger
Challenges                 and we have previously recommended them for the department,32 there are
                           three, we believe, that are particularly applicable to the Service, given the
                           concerns about communication and other allegations reported in the
                           media. These three practices emphasize communicating with employees
                           and obtaining and using their feedback to promote continuous
                           improvement. See appendix VI for a complete listing of the practices and
                           implementations steps.

                           One key practice in a merger or transformation is to set implementation
                           goals and a time line to build momentum and show progress from day one.
                           These goals and the time line are essential to pinpoint performance
                           shortfalls and gaps and suggest midcourse corrections. Research indicates
                           that people are at the heart of successful mergers and transformations.
                           Thus, seeking and monitoring employee attitudes and taking appropriate
                           follow-up actions is an implementation step that supports this practice.
                           Our work suggests that obtaining employee input through pulse surveys,
                           focus groups, or confidential hotlines can serve as a quick check of how
                           employees are feeling about large-scale changes and the new organization.
                           As discussed in this report, the Service did not initially have such tools in
                           place—in large part because of the enormous demands it faced in
                           recruiting, training, and deploying thousands of air marshals by the Deputy
                           Secretary’s deadline—and it was not monitoring employee attitudes.
                           Furthermore, although monitoring provides good information, it is also
                           important for agency management not only to listen to employees’
                           concerns but also to take action. By not taking appropriate follow-up


                           31
                            Results-Oriented Cultures: Implementation Steps to Assist Mergers and Organizational
                           Transformations, GAO-03-669 (Washington, D.C.: July 2, 2003).
                           32
                            GAO-03-260.




                           Page 26                                       GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
actions, negative attitudes may translate into actions such as employee
departures—or, as was the case with the Service, complaints to the media.
Identifying cultural features of merging organizations is another important
step in setting implementation goals. Cultural similarities between the
Service and the other organizations within ICE could facilitate the
Service’s merger into ICE. As the Director of the Service and others have
noted, air marshals, immigration agents, and customs agents are all law
enforcement officers and share a common culture. Moreover, as a
spokesperson for ICE pointed out, many air marshals came to the Service
from Customs and the Immigration and Naturalization Service; and some
other agents served as air marshals temporarily after September 11.

Establishing a communication strategy to create shared expectations and
report related progress is another key practice in implementing a merger
or transformation. According to our work on transformations and mergers,
communication is most effective when it occurs early, clearly, and often
and when it is downward, upward, and lateral. Organizations have found
that a key implementation step is to communicate information early and
often to build trust among employees as well as an understanding of the
purpose of planned changes. As the Service found when modifying its
workweek policy to implement LEAP premium pay, the absence of
ongoing communication can confuse employees. Two-way communication
is also part of this strategy, facilitating a two-way honest exchange with,
and allowing for feedback from, employees, customers, and stakeholders.
Once this solicited employee feedback is received, it is important to
consider and use it to make appropriate changes when implementing a
merger or transformation.

Involving employees to obtain their ideas and gain their ownership is a
third key practice for a successful transformation or merger. Employee
involvement strengthens the transformation process by including frontline
perspectives and experiences. A key implementation step in this practice
is incorporating employee feedback into new policies and procedures.
After obtaining sufficient input from key players, the organization needs to
develop clear, documented, and transparent policies and procedures. Not
having such policies and procedures was an impediment to the Service as
it expanded, creating confusion about issues such as transfers and dress
codes. DHS said that it fully recognizes the value and importance of
communicating with employees and of obtaining and using their feedback
to promote continuous improvement. It further noted that as the Service
merges into ICE, it is committed to involving employees to obtain their
opinions and gain their ownership.



Page 27                                  GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
                      The rapid expansion of the Service’s mission and workforce posed
Conclusions           significant challenges, many of which the Service has begun to address. In
                      the 2 years that have elapsed since the terrorist attacks of September 11,
                      the Service has deployed thousands of new air marshals on thousands of
                      domestic and international flights. During this time, the Service has also
                      established a decentralized organization and begun to integrate its
                      operations with those of a new department. While these accomplishments
                      initially came at some cost, as evidenced by air marshals’ concerns with
                      the Service’s management, the Service has taken steps to provide
                      advanced training, improve scheduling, obtain and use more detailed
                      management information, develop and communicate policies and
                      procedures, and obtain and respond to employee feedback.

                      Continuing these efforts will be important for the Service as it moves
                      forward. Developing and analyzing information on the hours air marshals
                      actually work is key to ensuring that the Service’s scheduling controls are
                      operating as intended. Flying for too many hours can cause fatigue,
                      potentially diminishing air marshals’ alertness and reducing their
                      effectiveness. Capturing detailed, firsthand information on air marshals’
                      reasons for separation is critical to developing cost-effective strategies for
                      promoting retention and would also allow the Service to identify and
                      analyze the root causes of issues and to address vulnerabilities through
                      changes to its policies, procedures, and training. While retention has not
                      been an issue to date, the cost of recruiting, training, and deploying air
                      marshals is too high to risk separations that could be avoided through
                      better understanding of and attention to air marshals’ concerns.


                      We recommend that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland
Recommendations for   Security direct the Under Secretary for Border and Transportation
Executive Action      Security to support the Service’s continued commitment to developing
                      into a high-performing organization by taking the following actions to
                      improve management information and to implement key practices that
                      contribute to successful mergers and organizational transformations:

                  •   Develop an automated method to compare actual hours worked with
                      scheduled hours so that the Service can monitor the effectiveness of its
                      scheduling controls and support its planned long-term study of the effects
                      of flying on air marshals and their aviation security mission.

                  •   Seek and monitor employee attitudes by obtaining detailed, firsthand
                      information on air marshals’ reasons for separation, using such means as
                      confidential, structured exit surveys, that will allow management to



                      Page 28                                   GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
                  analyze and address issues that could affect retention and take appropriate
                  follow-up actions, such as improving training, career development
                  opportunities, and communication.


                  We provided a draft of this report to DHS for its review and comment.
Agency Comments   DHS agreed with our report’s information and recommendations and said
                  it welcomes our proposals for practices that it believes will ultimately
                  maximize its ability to protect the American public, contribute to the
                  protection of the nation’s critical infrastructure, and preserve the viability
                  of the aviation industry. DHS also expressed a commitment to continuous
                  improvement as it moves forward, including actions designed to build on
                  the accomplishments the Service has already achieved in expanding its
                  mission and workforce since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
                  According to DHS, the Service has ongoing activities in several areas, such
                  as continuing to address policy issues and develop procedures and
                  establishing field office mechanisms and groups to discuss employee
                  issues and concerns. We included this information in the final report.

                  Additionally, DHS identified references in the draft report to
                  “overscheduling” of air marshals, with an explicit suggestion that such
                  “overscheduling” was among air marshals’ reasons for separating from the
                  Service. We revised the report to avoid this implication, since we had not
                  intended to suggest that air marshals were being overscheduled. Our
                  intent was to point out that without an automated method to compare
                  actual hours worked with scheduled hours, the Service would not readily
                  be able to monitor the effectiveness of its scheduling controls. We also
                  agreed with DHS that there were no data in the Service’s separation
                  information to suggest that “overscheduling” was among air marshals’
                  reasons for leaving the Service, and we modified the report accordingly.
                  DHS agreed with our recommendation to automate air marshals’ time and
                  attendance data to facilitate comparisons of actual hours worked with
                  scheduled hours and said that the Service was taking steps to implement
                  the recommendation. DHS also agreed that there was a need to improve
                  the quality of the Service’s separation information.

                  In its comments, DHS also emphasized its belief that the Service’s merger
                  with ICE would have a number of significant benefits, particularly from
                  cross-training personnel. DHS noted that after cross-training, the air
                  marshals, as well as personnel in the other ICE components, would have
                  far more law enforcement capability and could supplement each other’s
                  functions during times of heightened threat. Additionally, DHS said that
                  the aviation system would benefit from the concentration and


                  Page 29                                   GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
coordination of DHS law enforcement personnel under the direction of a
single Assistant Secretary. We discuss these changes in our report by
examining them in the context of issues that may arise as the Service
merges with other agencies. In addition, we discuss key practices and
implementation steps that could be useful in dealing with the changes. We
note, however, that it is too early to assess any possible benefits or
repercussions of the changes.

Finally, DHS provided technical clarifications to the report, which we
incorporated into the report as appropriate.


As agreed with your offices, unless you publicly announce its contents
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 5 days after the
date of this letter. At that time, we will send copies of this report to the
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats,
and International Relations, House Committee on Government Reform,
other interested congressional committees, the Secretary of Homeland
Security, the Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security, the
Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, and the
Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs
Enforcement. This report is also available on GAO's home page at
http://www.gao.gov.

Please contact Carol Anderson-Guthrie or me at (202) 512-2834 if you have
any questions about the report. Key contributors to this report are listed in
appendix VII.




Gerald L. Dillingham
Director, Civil Aviation Issues




Page 30                                    GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
             Appendix I: Scope and Methodology
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology


             To address each of our study objectives and research questions, we
             reviewed and analyzed data and documentation provided by the Federal
             Air Marshal Service (The Service) on background checks and training;
             scheduling, mission incidents, employee misconduct, and separation; and
             several workforce policies and procedures. We also interviewed officials
             responsible for implementing and operating the Service. Additionally, we
             used our Standards for Internal Controls in the Federal Government,
             Internal Control Management and Evaluation Tool,1 Human Capital: A
             Guide for Assessing Strategic Training and Development Efforts in the
             Federal Government,2 and Model of Strategic Human Capital
             Management,3 to help assess the Service’s training, management
             information, and policies and procedures. We also reviewed an audit
             report by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Inspector General
             (IG) on the Federal Air Marshal program.4 To guide our examination of the
             Service’s future challenges, we used our Results-Oriented Cultures:
             Implementation Steps to Assist Mergers and Organizational
             Transformations.5

             To compare the background check procedures for the newly hired air
             marshals with those used before September 2001, we obtained and
             reviewed Service documents that described the process and procedures
             used to apply for a top-secret clearance, as well as for an interim secret
             clearance waiver. We interviewed officials at the Service’s Human
             Resource Center in New Jersey who were knowledgeable about the
             process and were coordinating the Service’s requirements with the
             responsible Security Management Offices at both the Federal Aviation


             1
              GAO issues standards for internal control in the federal government as required by the
             Federal Managers’ Financial Integrity Act of 1982. See 31 U.S.C. 3512©. GAO first issued
             the standards in 1983. GAO revised the standards and reissued them as Standards for
             Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1(Washington, D.C.:
             November 1999). These standards provide the overall framework for establishing and
             maintaining internal control and for identifying and addressing major performance
             challenges and areas at greatest risk for fraud, waste, and abuse, and mismanagement.
             GAO issued its Internal Control Management and Evaluation Tool, GAO-01-1008G
             (Washington, D.C.: August 2001) to assist agencies in maintaining or implementing effective
             internal control and, when needed, to help determine what, where, and how improvements
             can be implemented.
             2
              GAO-03-893G.
             3
              GAO-02-373SP.
             4
              SC-2003-029.
             5
              GAO-03-669.




             Page 31                                          GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




Administration (FAA) and the Transportation Security Administration
(TSA). We also analyzed data provided by the Office of Personnel
Management’s (OPM) Investigative Service and had discussions with OPM
personnel on the number of clearances processed and the procedures that
are used.

To determine what changes were made in the training curriculum for the
newly hired air marshals, we analyzed documents related to the air
marshal training curriculum. In order to identify the curriculum in place
before the changes were made, we interviewed air marshals who had been
with the Service before September 2001. To understand the Service’s
curriculum from September 2001 through July 2003, we evaluated class
schedules, training materials, and training data that tracked the
completion of coursework and firearms qualification training. We visited
the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico and
the Service’s training center in New Jersey, where we interviewed officials
responsible for overseeing the air marshal training program. In addition,
we interviewed representatives of the Air Line Pilots Association, the Air
Transport Association, and current and former air marshals.

To determine what management information and policies and procedures
the Service had developed to support its expanded mission and workforce,
we examined the Service’s automated scheduling system and management
information on mission incidents, reported misconduct, and reasons for
separation. We analyzed the automated scheduling system data to
determine if the current system controls were operating as expected.
Additionally, to determine the extent of sick leave use and to address
allegations of excessive use, we analyzed the “sick calls” generated from
the scheduling system between July and October 2002. We also reviewed
and discussed with Service management its policies and procedures for air
marshals’ transfers between offices, dress code requirements, and work
schedules.

To determine how many newly hired air marshals have left the Service and
why, we used agency data on the number of air marshals on board, hired,
and separated each month; supervisory memorandums summarizing exit
interviews; resignation letters; personnel action forms; and the Service’s
summary database on separations. Using the summary database, we
determined the number of air marshals who separated, by reason, and
calculated the percentage of total employees that separated for a specific
reason. We discussed the process for collecting these data with agency
officials responsible for maintaining the Service’s personnel data from the
Service’s Human Resource Center in New Jersey. The Service provided


Page 32                                  GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




information on the processing and maintenance of its data and on the
relationships among its data systems. When we had concerns about the
consistency and validity of the data, we asked agency officials to address
each concern. On the basis of the information provided by the agency and
our review, we determined that the required data elements were adequate
for the purpose of this work.

To gain a basic understanding of the issues surrounding staff decisions to
leave the Service, we reviewed the agency’s separation data. For each
departed staff, these data capture only one predominant reason (for
leaving). To supplement this analysis, we selected 95 cases (36 percent of
264 separation cases) that had some form of documentation, had occurred
at various times between January 2002 and March 2003, and had originated
at various field offices. For each selected case, we reviewed any available
resignation letters, exit interviews, and forms documenting personnel
actions. This approach allowed us to conduct a limited quality check of the
Service’s data and determine whether reasons outside of those reported by
the Service provided a broader view of air marshals’ reasons for leaving
the Service.

To get a better understanding of the types of misconduct that air marshals
have been charged with, we reviewed the electronic spreadsheets that the
Service uses to track the status of each case of reported misconduct. The
spreadsheets included cases reported between October 2001 and July
2003. We sorted the cases of misconduct by category to determine if a
particular category was prevalent. We also spoke with Service
management about the adjudication of alleged misconduct and the issues
related to the completeness and definition of misconduct measures.

To determine the types and frequency of the mission reports submitted by
air marshals, we analyzed the database maintained by the Federal Air
Marshals’ Mission Operations Control Center. This database contained
approximately 1,600 incidents that were reported by air marshals between
September 11, 2001, and September 16, 2003. We then sorted the incidents
into broad categories, including mission-related incidents and incidents
that occurred between air marshals and airport or airline personnel. We
also received information on the Service’s use and dissemination of the
incident data from the Special Agent in Charge of Field Operations.

We reviewed the DOT IG’s report on the Federal Air Marshal program as
an additional source of information about the Service. This report
evaluated various aspects of the Service, including its selection and hiring
process and its procedures for properly training and fully qualifying air


Page 33                                  GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




marshals to respond to incidents aboard aircraft. For one aspect of the
report, the IG interviewed 112 air marshals in a one-on-one format at their
field office duty stations. The air marshals were not selected for interview
using structured or random selection methods. Information obtained
through these interviews highlights employee concerns with the Service
but is anecdotal and therefore cannot be projected to the universe of the
Service’s air marshal workforce.




Page 34                                  GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
              Appendix II: Demographic Profile of the
Appendix II: Demographic Profile of the
              Federal Air Marshal Service



Federal Air Marshal Service

              Figure 1: Federal Air Marshal Service Workforce by Gender, by Percentage, as of
              August 2003




              Figure 2: Federal Air Marshal Service Workforce by Age, by Percentage, as of
              August 2003




              Page 35                                     GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
Appendix II: Demographic Profile of the
Federal Air Marshal Service




Figure 3: Federal Air Marshal Service Workforce by Race, by Percentage, as of
August 2003




Page 36                                     GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
               Appendix III: Locations of the Federal Air
Appendix III: Locations of the Federal Air
               Marshal Service’s 21 Field Offices and
               Training Facility


Marshal Service’s 21 Field Offices and
Training Facility




               Page 37                                      GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
               Appendix IV: Events Affecting the Federal Air
Appendix IV: Events Affecting the Federal Air
               Marshal Service, September 2001 through
               October 2002


Marshal Service, September 2001 through
October 2002




               a
               The exact number of federal air marshals is classified.




               Page 38                                                   GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
Appendix V: Mission-Related Incidents                           Appendix V: Mission-Related Incidents
                                                                Reported by Federal Air Marshals, by Broad
                                                                Categories, September 15, 2001 — September
                                                                16, 2003
Reported by Federal Air Marshals, by Broad
Categories, September 15, 2001 —
September 16, 2003
 Incident category                                                                        Number of incidents reported                         Percentage of total
 Suspicious person                                                                                                   444                                         21.3
 Suspicious activities by person                                                                                     394                                         18.9
 Issues with airport or airline personnel
 • Assigned seating and/or boarding procedures                                                                       159                                              7.6
 •   Screening and/or escort procedures                                                                              106                                              5.0
 •   Check-in procedures                                                                                              59                                              2.8
 •   Flight crew briefings                                                                                            57                                              2.7
 Subtotal: (Issues with airport or airline personnel)                                                                381                                         18.3
 Suspect items or objects                                                                                            164                                              7.9
 Third-party information reported to air marshal                                                                     129                                              6.2
 Undercover status compromised                                                                                       113                                              5.4
 Disruptive/disorderly person                                                                                         73                                              3.5
 Security breeches                                                                                                    49                                              2.3
 Medical problems                                                                                                     35                                              1.7
 Arrest/detainment by or at request of air marshal                                                                    28                                              1.3
 Interference with flight crew by passenger                                                                           20                                               1
 Verbal threats or threatening behavior                                                                               19                                              0.9
 Use of nonlethal force by an air marshal                                                                             16                                              0.8
 Searches                                                                                                             12                                              0.5
 Equipment retrieval/turn-in                                                                                            7                                             0.3
 Tampering with aircraft or aircraft equipment                                                                          4                                             0.2
 Discharge of an air marshal firearm                                                                                    3                                             0.2
 To be determined                                                                                                       2                                              .1
 Not applicable                                                                                                         1                                             0.1
 Other                                                                                                               189                                               9
 Total                                                                                                             2,083                                          100
Source: Federal Air Marshal Incident Reports Database, September 15, 2001, through September 16, 2003.

                                                                Notes: Total includes some incidents counted more than once, because multiple codes for a
                                                                reportable incident might have been reported (e.g., a suspicious person incident might also have
                                                                been reported as a drunk and disorderly incident). The information above represents the major
                                                                categories of information on incidents that air marshals report to the Service’s Operations Center.




                                                                Page 39                                                 GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
              Appendix VI: Key Practices and
Appendix VI: Key Practices and
              Implementation Steps for Mergers and
              Organizational Transformations


Implementation Steps for Mergers and
Organizational Transformations

               Practice                                  Implementation step
               Ensure top leadership drives the          • Define and articulate a succinct and
               transformation.                             compelling reason for change.
                                                         • Balance continued delivery of services
                                                           with merger and transformation activities.
               Establish a coherent mission and          • Adopt leading practices for results-
               integrated strategic goals to guide the     oriented strategic planning and reporting.
               transformation.
               Focus on a key set of principles and      •   Embed core values in every aspect of the
               priorities at the outset of the               organization to reinforce the new culture.
               transformation.
               Set implementation goals and a            •   Make public implementation goals and
               timeline to build momentum and show           timeline.
               progress from day one.                    •   Seek and monitor employee attitudes and
                                                             take appropriate follow-up actions.
                                                         •   Identify cultural features of merging
                                                             organizations to increase understanding of
                                                             former work environments.
                                                         •   Attract and retain key talent.
                                                         •   Establish an organizationwide knowledge
                                                             and skills inventory to allow knowledge
                                                             exchange among merging organizations.
               Dedicate an implementation team to        •   Establish networks to support
               manage the transformation process.            implementation team.
                                                         •   Select high-performing team members.
               Use the performance management            •   Adopt leading practices to implement
               system to define the responsibility and       effective performance management
               assure accountability for change.             systems with adequate safeguards.
               Establish a communication strategy to     •   Communicate early and often to build
               create shared expectations and report         trust.
               related progress.                         •   Ensure consistency of message.
                                                         •   Encourage two-way communication.
                                                         •   Provide information to meet specific needs
                                                             of employees.
               Involve employees to obtain their ideas   •   Use employee teams.
               and gain ownership for the                •   Involve employees in planning and
               transformation.                               sharing performance information.
                                                         •   Incorporate employee feedback into new
                                                             policies and procedures.
                                                         •   Delegate authority to appropriate
                                                             organizational levels.
               Build a world-class organization.         •   Adopt leading practices to build a world-
                                                             class organization.
              Source: GAO-03-699.




              Page 40                                         GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
                  Appendix VII: Contacts and Acknowledgments
Appendix VII: Contacts and
Acknowledgments

                  Gerald Dillingham, (202) 512-2834
GAO Contacts      Carol Anderson-Guthrie, (214) 777-5739


                  In addition to those named above, Bess Eisenstadt, David Hooper, Kevin
Acknowledgments   Jackson, Maren McAvoy, Minette Richardson, Laura Shumway, Rick
                  Smith, Gladys Toro, and Alwynne Wilber made key contributions to this
                  report.




(540078)
                  Page 41                                      GAO-04-242 Federal Air Marshal Service
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