TSA officer in California says shutdown has 'adversely impacted security operations': report

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official wrote to his staff about his concerns that a partial government shutdown was "adversely" impacting "security operations" at a California airport.

Martin Elam, the deputy federal security director overseeing five California airports, wrote about his concerns about staffing at the Palm Springs International Airport after unpaid TSA workers called in sick as a partial government shutdown enters its third week, according to CNN.


Elam also warned about potential disciplinary action. The shutdown has furloughed workers across several federal departments, though personnel deemed essential are being asked to work without pay.

"Management is appreciative and sensitive to the burden the ongoing government shutdown is placing on each one of you," Elam wrote in his email, according to CNN. "You are an essential employee and you are required to report for work to carry out essential duties."
"Due to excessive unscheduled absences recently experienced at PSP (Palm Springs International Airport) that has adversely impacted security operations, if you have an unscheduled absence, you will NOT be placed in an intermittent furlough status," Elam added.
"Your unauthorized unscheduled absence will be coded by payroll as absent without leave (AWOL). At the conclusion of the government shutdown, an employee's AWOL status may result in progressive disciplinary action," he also said.
Over 2 million passengers traveled through the airport last year, according to CNN, which cited data from the city. 
CNN reported last week that hundreds of TSA agents at major airports have been calling in sick as they continue to be obligated to work without pay.

The TSA in a statement denied any adverse impact to operations while defending the email.

"Palm Springs airport is a small airport that requires a full team effort," said Jim Gregory, TSA's Deputy Assistant Administrator.
"The Deputy FSD who is referenced in the email obtained by CNN was simply expressing that all screening employees must report to work during the current lapse in appropriations as required by federal rules. TSA is monitoring screening operations at Palm Springs and has not seen any adverse impacts to operations."

Parts of the government, including the DHS, have been without funding since Dec. 22 because of disagreements between Trump and Congress related to the president's request for more $5 billion in funding for a border wall.

-Updated 6:40 p.m.