MINA O’REILLY AT LOGAN AIRPORT’S TSA
HARVARD BUSINESS CASE 9-409-116
Introduction & Background Analysis
This paper provides a case study analysis and case solution to an organizational behavior and leadership Harvard Business School case study by Michel Anteby and Erin McFee concerning the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Boston’s Logan Airport (Anteby & McFee, 2009). The case focuses on supervisor and managerial responses to a Transportation Security Officer’s (TSO) role in enabling a security breach at the airport. The time setting for the case study is a Monday morning in 2009, the day after the security breach. The principal decision maker is Mina O’Reilly, one of about 100 Supervisor Transportation Security Officers (STSO) at Logan Airport.
O’Reilly was responsible for supervising both Ludo Sanchez, the Transportation Security Officer who was directly responsible for the security breach, and the Lead Transportation Security Office (LTSO) who had been directly supervising Sanchez at the time of the breach. Leaving behind her partnership in a fizzling IT venture, O’Reilly joined the TSA in the entry-level TSO position in 2006. She quickly proved herself a fast-riser and a strong performer, earning a quick promotion to LTSO and subsequently STSO. With a series of great performance reviews and a flawless record with headquarters (at least until the current breach), O’Reilly was positioning herself for an eventual move into the senior management ranks at TSA.
Having joined the TSA shortly after its formation in the aftermath of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks, and having declined to pursue promotion opportunities, Ludo Sanchez is an eight year veteran at his job as a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) at Logan Airport. Personable, energetic, enthusiastic, and strongly committed to his job, Sanchez was well-liked by colleagues, his direct supervisors (especially by O’Reilly) and even by the passengers in the position of having to be “screened” by Sanchez. A single father who dotes on his daughter, Sanchez has recently been taking on extra shifts to save up to send his daughter to college.
The security breach involved a man (passenger) carrying a blue bag and running into the air terminal’s “sterile zone” (areas where passengers wait after screening to board departing aircraft) through an exit lane. Sanchez was the TSO who was manning the breached exit lane. Talking on his cell phone with his daughter as the passenger ran through the exit lane, Sanchez did not see the man. Nor apparently did the LTSO directly supervising Sanchez because it was another passenger who reported the breach five minutes later.
Happily, the security breach did not result in any injuries or deaths – the man with the blue bag was simply a passenger worried he would miss his flight. However, this is not to say that there were no adverse consequences of the breach. Because the “sterile area” had been breached, security personnel (including the Federal Security Director at Logan) followed protocol by escalating the incident and shutting down the area, leading to a 45-minute closure of the American Airlines side of Terminal B, delays in plane departures at five of the terminal’s 15 gates, disruption of airport schedules across the country, and considerable inconvenience and apprehension for the many passengers held at the gate while the crisis was being resolved. Now, the Monday following the Sunday incident, O’Reilly is under orders from Logan’s Federal Security Director to formulate an appropriate response to Sanchez’s role in the security breach and under pressure from some members of senior management to “make an example” out of Sanchez. Problem Statement
Mina O’Reilly must quickly formulate – and execute – a response to Sunday’s security breach. O’Reilly’s response must appropriately address the shortcomings in Sanchez’s performance as well as the performance of the LTSO charged with supervising...
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