By Chris Francescani
(Reuters) - Complaints against airport security workers have increased 26 percent in the past three years, and the U.S. Transportation Security Agency lacks comprehensive systems to ensure that its employees follow its rules, according to a government report.
The report, released ahead of congressional hearings on the TSA due to begin on Wednesday, said complaints included use of drugs and alcohol by TSA agents while on duty, and inconsistent use of security devices such as X-ray machines.
The report said 3,408 misconduct allegations were filed against TSA workers last year, up from 2,691 in 2010. Most concerned violations of attendance and security policies, the report by the Government Accountability Office found.
The TSA, created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, lacks a comprehensive review process "to verify that TSA staff at airports are complying with policies and procedures for adjudicating employee misconduct," the report said.
The TSA, responding to the report, defended itself, saying in a statement that it followed the "highest ethical standards."
It said it had "zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace," and that rules violations could lead to loss of employment or referral to law enforcement authorities.
(Reporting by Chris Francescani in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and John Wallace)