By Ed Payne and Rene Marsh
(CNN) — Their job is to keep air travelers safe in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks. But just how good of a job are they doing?
A new government report says misconduct by Transportation Security Administration workers has increased more than 26% in the last three years.
Some of the most serious violations include: Employees sleeping on the job, letting family and friends go without being screened, leaving work without permission, and stealing.
The Government Accountability Office report released this week says more than 9,000 cases of misconduct were documented over a three-year span.
More than 1,900 of the incidents were deemed significant enough to be possible security threats.
“There’s not even a way to properly report some of the offenses, so this may be just the tip of the iceberg of some of the offenses,” said Rep. John Mica, a longtime critic of the TSA who ordered the audit.
Theft by screeners
The report also details thefts by 56 screeners.
Former TSA employees Persad Coumar and Davon Webb pleaded guilty last year to stealing $40,000 from a checked bag at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.
In 2011, Officer Al Raimi, 29, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Newark. He admitted that for nearly a year, he stole between $10,000 and $30,000 in cash from travelers as they passed through a security checkpoint at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.
Raimi admitted that he would “kick up” some of that money to a supervisor, who in turn allowed him to keep stealing. The supervisor, Michael Arato, also pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks and bribes.
Union: Majority doing great job
Still, the union representing the screeners argues that the numbers show a majority of them are doing a great job.
“If you look at a population the size of a small city — 56,000 people in this work force — and the numbers then on an annual basis are then really really small,” said David Borer of the American Federation of Government Employees.
But Congressman Mica isn’t buying it.
“Why are there so many cases and, then, what is TSA doing about that?” the Florida Republican asks. “The report says they can’t really get a handle on it. That raises a lot of issues.”
The government report calls on the TSA to improve how they monitor allegations of misconduct and how they follow up after investigations.
The TSA told CNN it is “already working to implement” the recommendations.
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