July 7, 2020

TSA Makes COVID-19 Safety Changes in the Wake of Whistleblower Report and OSC Finding

Government Accountability Project Client Disclosure Spurs Positive Change

WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agreed to new safety procedures to protect passengers ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend. These changes came after Government Accountability Project client and TSA Federal Security Director for Kansas, Jay Brainard, made a disclosure on June 3, highlighting concerns about the potential for COVID-19 to spread through airports due to a lack of sufficient safety procedures. Brainard disclosed concerns about cross contamination and a lack of protective equipment for employees, among other concerns. The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) made a “substantial likelihood” finding on June 18, and ordered the Department of Homeland Security to investigate.

The TSA did not wait for the investigation to conclude before making changes. After meeting with Brainard last week to discuss his concerns, prior to July 4 holiday traffic TSA made the following changes:

  • Formal implementation of a prior announcement of mandatory face masks at TSA checkpoints;
  • Mandatory use of face masks during all pat downs;
  • Mandatory use of face shields for staff coming into close contact with passengers, if acrylic shield barriers are not available. (Safety glasses/goggles combined with masks can substitute if face shields are in short supply.);
  • Mandatory change of gloves between all passenger pat downs, or at a minimum sanitizing gloves if in short supply;
  • Mandatory change of gloves for all luggage searches; and
  • Mandatory sanitation of gloves with either TSA provided spray alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizer after handling any passenger property or identification at the Ticket Document Checker position.

Government Accountability Project client and TSA Whistleblower Jay Brainard commented:

“The TSA Administrator has taken necessary steps to make air travel safer for the public and enhance protective measures in the workplace for our frontline employees. I am grateful to the hardworking team at the Government Accountability Project and the Office of Special Counsel.”

Government Accountability Project Legal Director Tom Devine, serving as counsel for Mr. Brainard, added:

“In my 41 years filing cases under the Whistleblower Protection Act, the truth has never before made a difference with such lightning speed.  This happened because the Office of Special Counsel took Mr. Brainard’s critical public health warnings seriously, and acted with urgency. Their quick action sparked timely, badly-needed change. There is still work to be done, but we are encouraged that TSA’s employees will no longer be a vector to spread the COVID virus.”


Contact: Andrew Harman, Director of Communications
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (202) 457-0034 x156

Government Accountability Project

Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.