(Editor's Note: The following is a letter to Transportation Security Administration screeners by Administrator James M. Loy dated March 31, 2003.)
Dear TSA Screeners:
It is important that I clarify for you news reports generated by my testimony before the house Appropriations Committee yesterday regarding potential reductions in the screener workforce brought about by budget concerns. You deserve to know how I intend to lead us through this challenging time.
Earlier this year, Congress passed an omnibus budget bill to fund most government services through the end of the current fiscal year. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the budget allocation for TSA fell short of what we believed was needed to adequately support the current level of operations.
As a result, we have been working hard to find ways to trim budgets without diminishing our ability to provide the highest level of service and security to the traveling public.
For several weeks, I have monitored the work of an internal task force wrestling with the challenge of how to reduce our workforce by up to 3,000 positions. The group is working hard on your behalf. I have directed them to review carefully the staffing needed to stand up our screener force across the country and to note especially airports where the force is greater than the model requires. Task force members have approached their job with great care knowing that you are the first line of defense against terrorists who would attempt to take weapons on board a plane. They understand that you are the reason for TSA's success.
Nevertheless I do face some tough decisions about whether we have the right number of screeners to adequately do the job. What has not been reported is my intention to make necessary staff reductions in a way that impacts as few screeners as possible.
To achieve the necessary savings, we will first look to reduce our numbers through attrition, voluntary relocations of screeners from airports with too many employees to those with not enough, and conversion of some full-time positions to part-time positions. I believe these measures will be enough, however it is possible other actions will be needed to meet budget requirements.
You can expect to hear more about this process as early as next week. Until then, I urge you to continue with your important service to your fellow citizens. I have said many times you are all patriots serving your nation in its time of need. I pledge to do whatever possible to ease the stress of this process on you and your families and will do my very best in responding to this difficult budget situation on your behalf.
James M. Loy, ADM