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TSA head ‘reassigned’; agency re-evaluate, re-test equipment

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TSA head ‘reassigned’; agency re-evaluate, re-test equipment

Unread post by bimjim » Tue Jun 02, 2015

http://atwonline.com/security/tsa-head- ... -equipment

TSA head ‘reassigned’; agency to ‘re-evaluate’ and ‘re-test’ equipment
Aaron Karp
Jun 2, 2015

US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary Jeh Johnson has “reassigned” acting Transportation Security Administration (TSA) head Melvin Carraway “effective immediately” following a DHS inspector general’s report that revealed weaknesses at US airports’ passenger screening checkpoints.

The DHS inspector general’s report, which details “red team” undercover investigators’ efforts to bring banned items through passenger checkpoints, is classified and Johnson is not discussing the specific results. But ABC News reported that red team investigators were able to get “mock explosives or banned weapons through checkpoints in 95% of trials,” and in a statement Johnson cited “vulnerabilities” and “deficiencies” identified by the inspector general.

Johnson said he had been given a classified briefing on the preliminary results of the inspector general’s testing, adding, “We take these findings very seriously.” Johnson noted, “The numbers in these reports never look good out of context, but they are a critical element in the continual evolution of our aviation security.”

Carraway has been acting administrator since former TSA administrator John Pistole resigned on Dec. 31, 2014. President Barack Obama in April nominated Peter Neffenger, the vice commandant of the US Coast Guard, to be the next TSA administrator. Neffenger needs to be confirmed by the Senate and it’s unclear when that will happen. The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee has not yet scheduled a hearing on his nomination.

TSA acting deputy administrator Mark Hatfield, who has been with TSA since 2002 and served as the federal security director at several major US airports, will head TSA “until a new acting administrator is appointed,” Johnson said, adding that he is urging the Senate to confirm Neffenger “as quickly as possible.”

In addition to the management shakeup at the top of TSA, Johnson said he has “directed TSA leadership to immediately revise its standard operating procedures for screening” and “immediately brief the results of [the inspector general’s] testing to the federal security directors at every airport across the United States.”

Johnson said TSA will also “conduct training for all transportation security officers, in a phased fashion, in airports across the country” to specifically address the problems uncovered by the DHS inspector general, including “intensive training for all supervisory personnel.” He said TSA will “re-test and re-evaluate the screening equipment currently in use at airports across the United States.”

Johnson said he will also “personally … meet with senior executives of the contractors involved in the development of the equipment at issue to communicate to them the importance of their assistance in our efforts to investigate and remedy the deficiencies highlighted by the inspector general.”

The inspector general will continue to conduct “random covert testing” at security checkpoints to assess progress being made by TSA, Johnson said. A team of TSA and DHS senior leaders will oversee the directives Johnson has ordered and he will “remain personally engaged in this effort,” he said.

Johnson emphasized, “It is important to remember that all air travelers are subject to a robust security system that employs multiple layers of detection and protection, many of which are not visible to the traveling public.”

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