The culture atop the Transportation Security Administration’s intelligence office has allegedly deteriorated to the point where it was described as a “leadership abyss” by a former offical.
According to the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), court records show ongoing concerns about leadership struggles within the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, as well as a reputation for mishandling classified information.
A House oversight committee is slated to examine allegations of misconduct within the agency on Wednesday. The hearing will include testimony from Mark Livingston, a former deputy assistant administrator for the intelligence office who CIR said was “reassigned after raising concerns about discrimination against women and inappropriate behavior.”
Livingston filed a federal lawsuit saying that he reported one manager for forcing female employees wearing skirts, among others, to do pushups in the office to “haze” them. He also said that others who raised similar concerns were targeted for retaliation.
“The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior of its senior leaders. I keep seeing these examples – there seems to be no bottom to this failed leadership abyss,” he said. “The environment at TSA among senior leaders is like Lord of the Flies – either attack or be attacked. Even with changes in leadership, I haven’t seen a change.”
He also said he reported what he described as a lack of security protocols for handling classified information, which spurred other agencies to limit TSA’s access to records of that nature.
“Intel is happening in spite of leadership, not because of it,” Livingston said. “TSA needs intel professionals running the intelligence office, not program managers or specialists.”
A former advisor to Livingston, Raechell Bailey, told CIR that “people issues” are more prevalent within the agency than intelligence issues. Her own departure from TSA, she said, came about because of a lack of support after a supervisor spread a false rumor claiming that her newborn daughter resembled her supervisor. Bailey was on maternity leave at the time.
“We’re saying women are being sexually harassed at all levels — directors to analysts — every day,” she said. “Every other branch of government has a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment. TSA does not enforce that policy.”
Livingston went even further, saying that while TSA asks the public to report suspicious behavior, employees who do so are not safe.
“I am concerned that employees fear their supervisors more than they fear a potential terrorist threat,” he said.