Written testimony of TSA Administrator for a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing titled “TSA Oversight: Confronting…
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Written testimony of TSA Administrator for a
Good morning Chairman Rockefeller, Ranking Member Thune, and distinguished Members of the Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today about the
TSA's primary mission is to protect the Nation's transportation systems, including aviation, mass transit, rail, highway, and pipeline, to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce. Each year TSA screens approximately 640 million passengers and 1.5 billion checked and carry-on bags on domestic and international flights departing from U.S. airports. TSA also strengthens and enhances the security of an inter-related, multi-modal transportation network that includes 751 million bus passengers and 10 billion passenger trips on mass transit each year. To fulfill this vital mission, TSA employs a layered approach to security through a well-trained frontline workforce, state-of-the-art technologies, intelligence analysis and information sharing, behavior detection, explosives detection canine teams, Federal Air Marshals (FAMS), and regulatory enforcement. This multi-layered approach helps to ensure the security of the traveling public and the Nation's transportation systems.
It is my goal to consistently apply a risk-based approach to all aspects of TSA's mission. Whether it is the deployment of Federal Air Marshals (FAMs), the allocation of Transit Security Grant resources, or air cargo screening policies, TSA is working to implement a risk-based approach that allows us to deliver the most effective security in the most efficient manner. To this end, TSA continues to examine the procedures and technologies we use, how specific security procedures are carried out, and how screening is conducted. When I last testified before this Committee in 2011, TSA was in the initial stages of operationalizing our first Risk Based Security (RBS) screening initiatives. I am pleased to report to the Committee that RBS measures are now being broadly implemented across the nation and throughout the various modes of transportation.
Focusing on risk management is also the most efficient way to use TSA's limited resources and enhances the value we provide to the American people. I recently created the position of Chief Risk Officer to assess and standardize our approach to risk management across our mission operations and business support operations. This effort allows TSA to better assess new policies with respect to risk and value creation. As I have testified previously, it is not possible to eliminate risk altogether so our efforts must remain focused on managing and mitigating that risk. This is the most appropriate and sustainable model for TSA.
TSA Pre[check](TM} was one of the first initiatives in TSA's shift toward a risk-based and intelligence-driven approach to security. I am pleased to report that the TSA Pre[check](TM) initiative has developed into an effective security program at 118 airports nationwide. TSA Pre[check](TM is a key RBS initiative that allows us to expedite security screening at aviation checkpoints for low-risk passengers. As you know, passengers may qualify for the TSA Pre[check](TM program through a
Another key initiative to expand the TSA Pre[check](TM eligible population is the TSA Pre[check](TM application program that we started in
Additionally, TSA uses real-time and intelligence based methods, such as Managed Inclusion and TSA Pre[check](TM Risk Assessments to identify additional passengers eligible for expedited physical screening on a trip-by-trip basis. Numerous other risk-based changes are in effect nationwide, including expedited screening procedures for children 12 and under and adults 75 and older, airline pilots and flight attendants, and expedited screening at for military personnel.
To accommodate TSA's expansion of program eligibility to a greater number of low-risk passengers, TSA has taken the following actions: expanded the number of airports participating in TSA Pre[check](TM from the initial 40 to 118 airports; increased the number of expedited screening lanes from 46 to more than 600, with each lane providing the capability for doubling hourly throughput; and increased the number of U.S. airlines participating in TSA Pre[check](TM from five to nine in FY 2013, with plans of continued expansion as airlines are ready. Today, TSA is providing expedited screening to over 40% of the traveling public.
RBS has also enabled TSA to become more efficient and has achieved
Our industry and stakeholder partners are key to TSA's ability to implement risk-based security into every area of transportation security. These partners were key in the aviation sector as TSA worked to establish and expand the TSA Pre[check](TM program. Airlines worked with us to update their systems to handle new requirements, such as Pre[check](TM interconnectivity and boarding pass markings, and our airport partners worked with us to reconfigure checkpoint space to accommodate a Pre[check](TM lane for passengers. To date, TSA has expanded the program to 9 participating airlines at 118 airports nationwide, and continues to partner with industry to add additional partners and innovations to the program.
Our stakeholders were essential in understanding gaps and implementing important new procedures across our Nation's airports following last November's tragic shooting at
I also sought the input of TSA employees, through both town hall meetings and the
The report identifies recommendations adopted by TSA based in part on ideas and feedback generated by industry and law enforcement stakeholders as well as the TSA workforce. TSA is implementing these recommendations nationwide to close gaps identified through our LAX review. Some of these measures include recommending that airport operators conduct active shooter training and exercises on a bi-annual basis, issuing an Operations Directive requiring that all FSDs conduct mandatory evacuation drills twice a year, and requiring supervisors to conduct briefings for employees regarding the evacuation routes and rendezvous points identified in the local mitigation plan. TSA is also issuing recommended standards for increased law enforcement presence at high traffic airport locations such as peak travel times at checkpoints and ticket counters to provide visible deterrence and quicker incident response times.
TSA also recently extended invitations to 24 industry group and association members to be part of
Within the surface transportation system, TSA continues to place emphasis on industry engagement support and partnership as keys to successfully developing security risk reduction policies. One example is TSA's effort to implement a mass transit and passenger rail strategy that prescribes specific, outcome-based risk reduction activities, developed in concert with mass transit and passenger rail security stakeholders.
Engaging international partners is also critical to implementing effective risk-based security. Only with the collaboration and cooperation of foreign governments and international aviation partners can we mitigate international aviation threats. Overseas, TSA focuses on compliance, outreach and engagement, and capacity development. By conducting foreign airport assessments and air carrier inspections at last points of departure (LPDs) to
TSA also worked diligently with our domestic and international stakeholders on the
Repair stations that are on or adjacent to a
TSA must remain vigilant across all modes of transportation. Although we know that our adversaries remain intent on targeting air travel, which is why 97 percent of TSA's budget is focused on aviation, TSA also has the responsibility for surface transportation security. Surface transportation modes include mass transit and passenger rail, pipelines, freight rail, and highway.
In the surface mode of transportation like surface and mass transit where TSA does not conduct frontline screening, TSA engages with state, local, and private sector partners to identify ways to reduce vulnerabilities, assess risk, and improve security through collaborative efforts. TSA continues to work to develop security standards, assess vulnerabilities, develop plans to close vulnerabilities, and use metrics to drive risk reduction in a measurable way. An integral part of this effort is engaging stakeholders in developing effective, operational security. For example, TSA conducts corporate security reviews of Mass Transit agencies to include
TSA continues to work to develop security standards, assess vulnerabilities, and use metrics to drive risk reduction in a measurable way. An integral part of this effort is engaging stakeholders in developing effective, operational security. As an example, TSA and
TSA also collaborates with industry through our Intermodal Security Training and Exercise Program (I-STEP) across all modes of surface transportation. I-STEP tests and evaluates the prevention, preparedness and ability to respond to threats. As new threats develop, I-STEP scenarios are updated to ensure that our industry partners are appropriately prepared.
TSA works collaboratively and proactively with industry partners to ensure resources are appropriately directed towards reducing risk to critical pipeline infrastructure. The Implementing the Recommendation of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (P.L 110-53) required TSA to develop and implement a plan for inspecting the 100 most critical facilities of the national pipeline system. These inspections were conducted between 2008 and 2011, with regular ongoing reviews through TSA's Critical Facility Security Review program. I have personally taken the time to meet with and engage with officials from the pipeline sector and I am confident that our process of using current threat information and industry best practices is producing strong, flexible and effective security measures in a voluntary, rather than regulatory, manner.
TSA also partners with the
Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) Teams
Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams are a key layer of security in the deterring transportation threats. VIPR teams augment the security of any mode of transportation at any location within
TSA's mission performance requires a skilled, professional workforce. Through a variety of current initiatives, TSA has incorporated professionalism, cultural awareness, and customer service into our training. Specifically, TSA's new hire training is designed to strengthen core competencies in teamwork, respect, communication, and accountability. Further, TSA has expanded its partnership with the DHS Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETCs) to provide additional training courses for our screening officer workforce. This dedication to developing front-line employees recognizes their contributions and affirms their critical role in our risk-based security approach.
In addition to training for the frontline workforce, TSA offers programs for all employees that enhance security and leadership skills through advanced degree curricula and executive training at prestigious institutions. TSA has also completed leadership training for nearly all 4,331 Supervisory TSOs, and we are implementing similar training for our 5,500 Lead TSOs and 1,200 Transportation Security Managers. TSA remains committed to the professional development for employees across all levels of the organization.
TSA will continue to enhance its layered security approach through state-of-the-art technologies, better passenger identification techniques, best practices, and other developments that will continue to strengthen transportation security across all modes of transportation. I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today, and I look forward to answering your questions.
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