By deploying armed air marshals onboard selected flights, the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS), a component of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), plays a key role in helping to protect approximately 29,000 domestic and international flights operated daily by U.S. air carriers. GAO was asked to examine (1) FAMS's operational approach or "concept of operations" for covering flights, (2) to what extent this operational approach has been independently evaluated, and (3) the processes and initiatives FAMS established to address workforce-related issues. GAO analyzed documented policies and procedures regarding FAMS's operational approach and a July 2006 classified report based on an independent evaluation of that approach. Also, GAO analyzed employee working group reports and other documentation of FAMS's processes and initiatives for addressing workforce-related issues, and interviewed the FAMS Director, other senior officials, and 67 air marshals (selected to reflect a range in levels of experience). This report is the public version of a restricted report (GAO-09-53SU) issued in December 2008.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Federal Air Marshal Service||1. To facilitate continued progress in identifying and addressing issues that affect the ability of FAMS personnel to perform the agency's aviation-security mission, the FAMS Director should take appropriate actions to increase the usefulness of the workforce satisfaction surveys that FAMS plans to conduct biennially. Such actions could include, for example, ensuring that the survey questions and the answer options are clearly structured and unambiguous and that additional efforts are considered for obtaining the highest possible response rates.|