TSA director replaces security chief

In a move judged to be "largely cosmetic," TSA administrator Peter V. Neffenger has replaced the person in charge of overseeing security at 440 airports across the country.

It was revealed last week that Kelly Hoggan, assistant administrator for the Office of Security Operations received $90,000 in bonuses, despite the failure of the agency to detect 95% of guns and explosives sent through the checkpoints as part of a test nationwide. 

New York Times:

Beginning late that year, Mr. Hoggan received $90,000 in bonuses over a 13-month period, even though a leaked report from the Department of Homeland Security showed that auditors were able to get fake weapons and explosives past security screeners 95 percent of the time in 70 covert tests.

In addition, several employees who say they were punished with reassignments to other airports after filing whistle-blower complaints have alleged that Mr. Hoggan played a role in their forced transfers.

Mr. Hoggan’s bonus was paid out in $10,000 increments, an arrangement that members of Congress have said was intended to disguise the payments. During a hearing of the House Oversight Committee two weeks ago, lawmakers grilled Mr. Neffenger about the bonus, which was issued before he joined the agency in July.

“Those bonuses were given to somebody who oversees a part of the operation that was in total failure,” said Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah and the committee’s chairman.

Mr. Neffenger said he had changed the rules to cap bonuses at $10,000 a year.

Asked during the hearing if he would discipline or remove Mr. Hoggan, Mr. Neffenger said he would not, adding that he had no evidence of any wrongdoing. But by Monday, he appeared to have had a change of heart.

Mr. Neffenger announced that Darby LaJoye, a deputy assistant administrator at the agency, would immediately take over as acting assistant administrator of the Office of Security Operations. Mr. LaJoye will manage security operations for the agency’s work force of more than 50,000 employees at about 440 airports nationwide.

Several current and former T.S.A. employees said the moves to replace Mr. Hoggan and add the new officials in Chicago, where passengers have endured hourslong waits at security checkpoints, were insufficient.

“The timing of this decision is too late to make a real difference for the summer,” said Andrew Rhoades, an assistant federal security director at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. “Neffenger is only doing this because the media and Congress are making him look bad.”

Mr. Rhoades has filed a whistle-blower complaint against the agency. Later, he said, he was ordered to racially profile Somali-Americans visiting the T.S.A.’s local office.

I think before the summer is over, a serious effort will be made by airports and airlines to privatize security screening at airports. The effort will almost certainly be challenged by the union and Democrats in Congress. But the cold, hard reality is that TSA has proven itself to be incapable of handling the tasks assigned to it in an efficient and timely manner. 

Adding another layer of bureaucracy at O'Hare is a typical response from a typical bureaucrat. It won't speed up the lines any, but it gives the appearance of "doing something about the problem." In the unreal world of the bureaucracy - mission accomplished.

The flying public is seething and with the Memorial and Independence Day travel spikes coming, it's only going to get worse.


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