tv Hearing on TSA Misconduct CSPAN April 28, 2016 8:00pm-10:40pm EDT
coming up next, the house oversight hearing on employee issues and the transportation. after that, possible changes to u.s. tax law. then, a senate hearing on the latest treatment for post-traumatic stress and brain injuries. on wednesday, transportation security administration employees testified by the house oversight and reform committee considering the management practices. witnesses they they were mistreated by senior level
officials at tsa, and employees are scared to report problems, fearing retaliation. one employee says he was instructed by management to racially profile somali americans. a report from the inspector general's office concluded they have a serious staffing problem, losing more than 100 airport screeners every week. this is 2:25. >> committee on oversight and government reform comes to order. without objection, the chair has authorize zed to declare a recess at anytime. we have an important hearing today examining the management practices and misconduct at the transportation security administration, the tsa. as we enter the summer travel, many americans are headed to the airport. we get a lot of people coming in from overseas who want to travel domestically, but have a lot of americans taking their families or going on business, the whole array, everything you can think about. the numbers are pretty amazing, how many people travel on a daily basis. but often when they get there, they're finding there are very long lines. we need our airplanes and airports to be as secure as possible.
but the practices of securing those airports, i think, continues to be an ongoing question. because some times, the lines become so difficult and so long. during one week in mid-march, nearly 6800 passengers missed their flights due to long waits at tsa checkpoints. at the charlotte airport, passengers waited more than three hours just to get through security. in many airports. they're complaining tsa is only getting worse, not better, and yet there has been a rise in the sheer number of people that were working at the tsa, certainly since its inception. you're also going to find that the attrition rate is stunning. there's a reason why. i think it's a key indicator as to how the organization is performing and who is being rewarded and not being rewarded and how do people generally feel about the organization. i think people are patient. they're willing to wait in line if they feel like the airport is becoming secure, but last summer, the depart of homeland
security inspector general performed covert testing at the security screenings and found, quote, failures in technology, failures in tsa procedures, and human error, end quote. the inspector general testified before this committee that, quote, layers of security were simply missing, end quote. i understand that some recommendations are still outstanding, although i appreciate the tsa has taken steps to address many of the inspector general's findings. tsa works to improve security and reduce wait times, the staffing problem threatens to undermine its progress. currently, the agency is losing, think about this, these numbers are pretty stunning. they're losing about 103 screeners each week through attrition. now, that's a little bit of a scary number because i think that's telling us that they really don't like working there.
in 2014, this is, again, a very stunning number. 373 people joined. but 4,644 people departed. there are a lot of people looking for good jobs, good opportunities in this country. so when you have 4,600 people leave that job, and there are only able to attract 373, what does that tell you? tells you there's probably a management problem there. and that there's probably some challenges and underlying things and causes that ought to be examined. the government actually, i think, does a good job in that it surveys federal employees at all the different agencies across all of government. remember, there's more than 2 million federal employees out there. of the 328 agencies that are ranked and scored, the tsa ranked 313th. out of 320.
as making it one of the worst places to work. committee has been contacted by a large number of whistleblower whose have given us some insight as to why it may be. we have also reached out to some individuals. i don't want you to assume the panel here today are simply whistleblowers, in fact, that's not the case. one of the biggest causes that have attributed to tsa challenges is leadership and management. strong, effective leadership cannot be more important to an agsz fraught with problems. instead, as we chatted with people and whistleblowers come forward, tsa has a high culture that discourages speaking up about problems. they have raised concerns punishing high level managers. when hard ranking rank and file men and women are severely punished, yet their managers get off easy, it creates a morale problem. it has a highly detrimental
effect on the agency, keeping the airways safe. i don't care where you are in life or what you are doing, when you see somebody doing something bad and it's not fixed, it's demoralizing. when you have maybe a group of people on the line doing one thing and something happens and they get treated differently than the management, it's very demoralizing. i think it's clearly what we are seeing at the tsa. the hearing is intended to focus on the toll management challenges for tsa employees. the tasks for protecting transportation infrastructure. this brings us to our witnesses here today to discuss their leadership challenges today. their testimony with the committee is protected. it is against the law to retailuate against them. it doesn't matter if we reach out to them or they reach out to
us, they are protected. communications to the press about waste, fraud and abuse and mismanagement are protected communications. these disclosures offer an effective way to bring it to the attention to those in a position to remedy it. sometimes it doesn't matter how much is in place, they find subtle ways to marginalize or demean those who speak the uncomfortable truth. i want to be clear, this committee will not stand for reprisal for those cooperating in investigions. it's true for today's witnesses and appreciate the brave stature to come forward and at some risk chat with congress. it is the way we are going to get to the truth and protect the greater whole. i think the gentlemen here today provide valuable insight and hopefully can make the whole of government, the whole of the tsa
and its vital mission a better place to do it. we thank these gentlemen for stepping forward and participating with us today. with that, i will recognize the ranking member, mr. cummings. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. today, we hear the testimony of three employees from the transportation security administration who led a series of abuses and improper practices within that agency. whistleblowers are essential to discover waste, fraud and abuse and they are critical to this committee's mission. based on the work conducted by this committee today, federal s statutes protect them. ensuring federal employee who is come before us are protected from retaliation. equally important, we, as
members of the committee, have an obligation to run the allegations to the ground and determine if we can sub stan chuate them. we want to protect whistleblowers from retaliation, we agree we want to protect federal employees from claims that are not sub stan chated. all three men who stepped forward today, for their willingness to testify and for the information that they provided in their transcribed interview with committee staff. they have raised troubling allegations of personnel practices within tsa. all three have filed complaints with the office through the equal employment opportunity process or in federal court. each allegation we have heard deserves a thorough and fair
investigation. i think these three individuals deserve that, too. unfortunately, as we hold this hearing today, the committee has not yet had the opportunity to complete such an investigation. in some cases, we have not spoken with those who have firsthand knowledge of the allegations we have heard. we also have not yet heard from tsa regarding most of the allegations raised by these employees. i hope the committee will talk with all of the individuals involved and review all the documents and issues with we discuss today. that is fairness and thoroughness. many of the allegations our witnesses have raised were initiated under previous agency administrators. in some cases, the allegations are resolved under previous
administrators and current tsa administrator vice admiral peter has moved to address many of the practices that have been cited by the whistleblowers. one of today's witnesses describe this progress with the committee by saying, and i quote, i think we made tremendous progress with peter. he added, and i quote, since he has come in, i have heard nothing in terms of misconduct, end of quote. under the administrator, tsa issued new policies and clarified membership in the role of executive resources council for the abuse of what he wants, achievement bonuses for the same
activities and assure that reassignments are made only to support agency goals. the administrator moved to address the airport security lapses identified by the security general and the agency's own testing teams that we examine in this committee's hearing on tsa last fall. he has ended the managed inclusion 2 program that permitted those who had not received background risk assessments to receive expedited screening. he has placed agency focus squarely on resolving all alarms at screening check points. as he testified by the committee last fall, he is, and i quote, readjusting the measurements of success to focus on security
rather than speed, end of quote. i am pleased to see his actions are beginning to show progress. people may not want to hear this, but these actions are likely to slow lines at airports even further. things may get worse if tsa's work force continues to be reduced. he recently testified that tsa has nearly 6,000 fewer transportation security officers in its work force than it had four years ago. he is being asked to do more with less and that is a problem. so, i hope that our committee will continue to focus on holding tsa accountable for completing essential reforms that we will, you know, provide him with the resources he needs to do his job. i look forward to the testimony of our witnesses today. i want to thank you all for
being with us. with that, i yield back. >> we'll hold the record open for members who would like to submit a written statement. we now wrerecognize our witness. jay, the office of security operations. mr. mark livingston is the program manager at the transportation security administration and mr. andrew rhoades assistant director at the minneapolis/st. paul international airport in the office of security at tsa. welcome. thank you for being here. please raise and -- raise your right hand. rise and raise your right hand. do you swear or confirm the testimony is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? thank you. you may be seated. let the report reflect all
witnesses answered in the affirmative. to allow time for discussion, we would appreciate if you limit your verbal statements to five minutes. the written statement will be in the record. mr. brainard, you are recognized for five minutes. bring the microphone up close. you can straighten it out, but we want to get you clearly on record. you are now recognized. >> i am pleased to appear at the request of the committee to discuss issues of the transportation security administration. our business is serious. the national strategy of the united states of america is clear. defending our nation against enemies foreign and domestic is the first fundmental commitment of the government. when it is in danger, it is incumbent on those entrusted to ensure our national security to come forward and, if necessary, report to you at whatever the cost may be. we are all here today for that
purpose. while the new administrator of tsa made security a much needed priority, wunonce again, we are administration in crisis as a result of poor leadership and oversight. some of which still serve in key positions within the agency today. our culture went into rapid decline going unchecked by the leader and various agencies and committees responsible for the oversight. for that reason, we have a crisis in leadership and culture. tsa chose unprepared employees to fill key leadership in vacancies. they were chosen not because they were time tested but because they were liked or good at managing programs or proje s projects. in fact, many leaders, like any security experience never worked in field operation their entire
career. the result of the survey, each federal agencies response to is graded by its own people, declared we have failed employees year after year. we continue to have a culture problem in tsa brought on by an unwillingness to confront them. it has been the contributing factor of security risk and led to poor performance. we have low moral, lack of trust and leaders fearful to speak out, and for good reason. people at all levels of the agency have spent most of their time constantly looking over their shoulder doing the right thing. let me make one thing clear. this is not a tsa headquarters issue. there are decent people that are just as disgusted and concerned as i am today. this is and has always been a senior executive issue. a senior executive problem.
i refer to those at the very top of the food chain. for years, we had many senior executives, most of which who completely lack the experience for their position run amok and make decisions or conduct themselves in an unethical manner and grossly compromise the integrity of our agency. until change occurs, tsa will remain a culture of leadership. despite the testing made public, we have some of the same leaders in critical positions whose focus is on numbers and leave security and people last. many who broke the agency are in key positions today. we empower leaders who obtain compliance because they fill a vacancy. they are not filed because they are leaders. they file out of fear. bean counting and instilling fear in anyone who opposes them. they are the biggest bullies in
government. as a result, many people feel batters, abused and overworked. they convince themselves, they are liked by everyone because no one is left to question them. they have become powerful in their own mind and make decisions. i know several people who went along to get along and regret supporting the agenda of those leaders. in an effort to clean up our agency, tsa's former leader instituted an agency wide ethics training complete with a tsa wall of shame for the purpose of exposing bad apples in the agency and shaming them. to our people, in one of the videos every employee is required to see, people are better than this. the wall of shame is senior executives and tsa held to a different standard than the rest of the agency. not one person for the state of our agency is glad to see any of us here today.
those who have spoken up have been and targeted about running a federal service. complaints were buried and so many cases, so were the complainers. so ig nnif cant -- while the res of our testing rr made public last may, it was embarrassing. when it came time to address the problem, people who are really to blame, never step forward to accept or acknowledge responsibility. instead, they set back and watched officers on the front line get publicly shamed. our officers did not fail. they did exactly what that tsa senior executive leadership team demanded of them. for years, tsa executive leadership shifts away and increase check point. they raised concern or voiced opinion to leadership were
targeted through redirected assignments. a counter part had a conversation with a leader responsible for our problems who indicated to him, they developed a loyalty list and were removing the security directors on the list. if you are not familiar, it is a tool used by the airline industry to force people into retirement because it is admissible. they targeted specific deputies. the only thing wrong with this is they were asked in business reason. as security directors vacancy occurred, many were filled with unqualified personnel. their loyalty was to those who put them there. of the 157 original federal security directors hired after the 9/11 attacks, five of us are left. when the veterans administration
spent money, the public was outraged. tsa spent millions. looking at the hearing agenda on the committee's website, it mentions the most important part of why we are here, the toll management has taken. my opening statement scratches the surface. if you do not learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it. the reality is, our leadership changes when there's a change of administration. if that happens and if these issues continue to go unaddressed, the people who damage the agency will be off the leash and what progress we have made will have been in vain. we need this committee to take a look at the road ahead and ensure it never happens again. i hope i can answer your questions based on my experiences. that concludes my opening statement. >> thank you. >> i'm very pleased, mr. chairman, mr. livingston is a
resident of columbia, maryland. this is an area that is shared between my district and the district representing by my distinguished congressman. mr. livingson is a constituent and he's written a letter to the committee to express his support for mr. livingston and urge that the committee investigate. i ask unanimous consent that his letter be included in the record. >> mr. livingston, you are recognized for five min utds. >> members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you regarding the transportation security add m administratiadd mi administration and the lack of accountability to senior executives and the impact on the mission. i am here today to share what i
have seen firsthand and as a member of the leadership team and rep henceable practices by top leaders. i am here because i believe tsa has major management challenges imposing risk to perform effectively with serious consequences. it matters what leaders do and what they do not do. noted education leader scholars have stated the culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate. in tsa, that worst is yet to be identified because the men and women of the agency keep seeing that worst behavior confronted by the media, not the transstation leadership. i would like to first state, by telling you the vast majority of the front line employees at tsa are professional and care about the mission of the agency. most come in every day and do a
great job. what you hear about is that 1% of failed leadership. that's why i'm here today. for the error, i'm a career senior intelligence executive and i have served successfully in prior roles. am a disabled marine. we do not lie, cheat and steal or tolerate those that do. i am not a novice when it comes to the matters we will discuss. i bring a scholarly practitioner insight. my field of study has been on crisis leadership and organizational crises. issues with technological considerations in the global environment considering the role of information technologies and all aspects of management practice has been a direct correlation to my role at tsa.
i am an expert in organizational integration. thinking skills on how to develop the high performance teams. i have held a top secret clearance for 36 years of my service as an intelligence professional. this is important as i will identify security instances that occurred at tsa and where tsa failed to act. my career professional status is good. i am in good standing and not pinned in acts or investigation. i am here today by my own choice to inform you of challenges. i relay this information to is committee might better understand the issues are more than misconduct. this is about the inability of tsa to focus on the mission, due to overwhelming complaints and personnel issues brought on. the refusal to address or hold senior leaders accountable is paralyzing this agency.
the leadership imperative is missing at tsa. in your role as an oversight committee, you should be alarmed with the issues because tsa employees are less likely to report threat relevant issues out of fear of retaliation. no one that reports at tsa is safe. this negates any operational permit process that permits the agency from fulfilling their mission of protecting the transportation system and protecting economic well being from threats. retaliation from tsa leadership is used extensively and systematic by the media and acknowledged by the report 10-39. that was provided to you in october, 2009. the exact thing happened to me
then and other leaders since then. they use this as a means to silence those who report violations, security concerns or operational issues into retirement. no employee is report it. senior leaders appearing before congress stated they will correct this behavior or tsa held to strict time lines to get false narratives. i bet you have heard this and you continue to hear the media reports. i would like to take this opportunity to thank my congressman for the opportunity to represent me with tsa. this is democracy at its best. thank you. >> thank you. mr. rhoades, you are recognized for five minutes. >> members of the committee, thank you for the use of reassignments, retall yags and the impact on security.
directed reassignments have been used by tsa senior leadership to silence, force early retirements and resignations. senior leader misconduct and retaliation explain why they underperform. recently, i was asked to profile somali moms visiting my office. i will not do this. i am not a tiff tiff. my supervisor said i went native after attending a mosque. this unfortunate incident is not reflective of the entire u.s. government. tsa's problems are rooted in conduct. lack of trust, cover ups and the refusal to hold leaders accountable. my agency bypasses principals.
simply put, we violate the principals of picking people. we elevate people in senior positions that do not have the experience and ability to lead and manage a complex organization. unqualified individuals corrects itself but only after subordinates suffer the consequences. there's a chronic indifference of legitimate complaints. my agency council discloses misconduct and mall fees ens and the cycle continues. some issues may predate the administrator, i have been in direct communication with him and chief council on these issues, some dating back since february, 2015 and i have yet to receive a reply. i am the only tsa employee whose directed reassignment is directed by the u.s. special office council.
i was given it based on the belief i was -- my professional and personal relationship with the st. paul security director, chief operating officer and tsa operat operator. i was the recent father of two wonderful children, but could not leave the state of minnesota unless i was willing to lose custody of my children. there's a financial price we pay. i estimate the money paid for reassignments, mismanagement and bonuses to senior executives would fund transportation security officers to staff the largest airports in the nation. the most agregregious misconduc- subordinate female under him. when questioned by an oi agent, he lied three times.
a 24-page office of professional responsibility report recommends this administrator be removed from service. instead, the deputy or acting tsa administrator ignored the office. the subject of this investigation is still employed with tsa. why is it acceptable for tsa senior executives to lie when tsos are removed for the same infraction? in conclusion, the american public and congress should care about what happens in tsa. senior leaders are mismanaging our agency and our security is compromised. it is the movie "animal house" and best depicted in the tv series "game of thrones." i cannot imagine any company being successful when they treat
employees the way tsa does. i thank this committee for the opportunity to appear before you. i thank my congresswoman for her steadfast support. tsa will always fall short of operating within the band of excellence. our performance and potential reflects in agency in dire need of oversight. they need an agency focused on threat. employees tsos in particular deserve to be treated with respect. we can do much better. this con cloouds my prepared statement. i look forward to anszing questions. >> on behalf of the committee, we thank the witnesses. i will turn to questions. i'll begin with the first round. all three of you are currently tsa employees, and all three of
you, bravely, have come forward to talk about retaliation about a toxic environment, misconduct within the areas you have worked. what concerns me is some of it is historic, but the first witness and the second witness and third witness, i heard say they believe it still continues. would you say that's the case is still going on? >> yes, sir. >> mr. livingston? >> yes, sir, i agree. >> mr. rhoades? >> yes, sir. >> that's very troubling. you unfortunately confirmed some of our worst suspicions. they have a huge beaurocracy in tsa. we have had about 45,000 screeners or somewhere in the neighborhood of 42 as a cap. 52,000 and i know they cook the
books a bit and move some po sig decisions to other agencies. 8,000 to 10,000 administrative personnel making -- well, i know there are 4,000 in the d.c. area make over $103,000 a year on average. they are well paid. i read the stories of what they did to you. since we have begun this inqu y inquiry, dozens of others have come forward telling us they have experienced similar misconduct. i'm a little concerned, i tried to give the new administrator a chance to straighten things up. again, you tell me the people who are the most abusive are still there, is that right, mr.
brainard? >> yes, i didn't go on record with your comment. what i have observed in tsa, he has done his best to get engaged and get his arm around but we haven't solve it. >> this comes from a high level on the retaliation has taken place. i know there have been memos, et cetera, operational guidelines that have been revised, but the folks are still in place. that's got to be demoralizing. >> they are. the reality is, not only are they still with the agency, some of them are still in their original positions today. we continue to have this issue. >> what concerns me, too, is the ability to perform now is always hindered.
he is well intended, but some of the reports that leaked about the poor performance, you saw some cooking of the books, too, on wait times, is that correct? any of you? >> yes, sir. >> you did, mr. rhoades. that has been documented -- well, the failures of performance, the wait times and the retaliation. there's been retaliation for also the facts coming out. i don't want to say you revealed the facts. some of you got blamed for that is that correct mr. brainard, mr. livingston and mr. rhoades? all three. >> yes, sir. >> he is well intended. he's trying to correct the situation with more training, et cetera, but tsa can't recruit, it can't train or schedule or manage the huge beaurocracy
that's been created. that's part of the problem. it won't be corrected. then those people on the line see what's taking place. they pull me aside at my airport. see those three guys doing nothing, mr. mica, sitting there, they are making over 100 grand. we are busting our tail trying to process these people and they are having a sit-down chat and enjoying themselves. part of tsa gets the name thousands standing around. these guys are thousands sitting around earning huge salaries while the others are doing their work. the meltdown that's already occurred, my colleagues, here are just a few headlines. this is ft. lauderdale/miami. american airline, 6800 people last month missed their flights. chicago, 1100 american airlines missed their flights, chicago.
charlotte airport, three hour waits on good friday. long lines, cranky travelers, seattle. this one is denver. this one is jfk. i mean, we haven't gotten to the summer when you get the heavier traffic. you all know what i'm talking about. you think we are headed for a rough time this summer? mr. brainard? >> i absolutely believe that's the case. i think it's important to point out talking personnel issues and the senior executive service and the people that are still here, it goes beyond that. a lot of things you are reading about in the paper, the $1.5 million ad, same decision makers. moving resources out of airports, same decision makers. talking about turning them in to bean count, which put us in
quite a situation for the summer, same administrators. the same people that broke it are still running it. i will offer to you in post, the testing results coming out, there was a team effort that took place. in that, there were wonderful recommendations offered. i served as a senior adviser for two months. the most important part of that survey, the most important part of that working group is fix the security. the second part was fix the leadership. i don't think that message got back. >> thank you. did you want to say something? real quick, i'm going to yield as much time to mr. cummings. go ahead. >> i can add a very unique perspective of your first question. as a member of the senior leadership team, i sat there. the administrator has brought a new perspective to the agency. he's actually hired a chief
operating officer. the problem is, he's got the same people doing the same thing doing the same problems. he has the right mind set and eveninger ji to change it, but he's got to put different people in different positions. he had the energy and the focus to do it, but he can't do it with the same people. >> what you tell us is troubling. let me yield to mr. cummings. >> thank you very much. gentlemen, i want to thank you for being here. i'm concerned about the allegations. they are serious allegations. we definitely need to have a thorough inquiry to hear all sides. i think you would agree with that? >> yes, sir. >> yes, sir. >> you testified you were removed from your position and basically, you were demoted, is that right? >> two grades. >> you lost some pay? >> yes, sir. >> how much did you lose? >> about 10,0$10,000 a year plu
bonuses. >> you said that right at the end of your -- so, you said that they did it right at the end of your one year probationary period, is that right? >> yes, sir. >> how close were you to the end of the period before they did this? >> roughly 48 days before my probationary period, but i served for 17 months but because the secretary of homeland security, secretary napolitano announced her retirement, they froze all being certified as they put in a new secretary of homeland security at the time. i was in that position for a long time. plus my agency was slow in getting my ecqs. bottom line, they removed me and
investigated me and didn't reinstatement. they removed me because my senior was culpable and the other for sexual harassment. after the removed me, i failed my probationary period. they couldn't reinstatement because they removed me. >> what do you think the probationary period is for? >> evaluate your performance. >> as i understand it, you don't have certain rights, is that right? >> correct, sir. >> the ability to challenge your demotion or appeal, right? >> yes, sir. >> they basically demoted you and they can demote you if they want and you don't have adequate protections and there's no due process during that period, is that right? >> that's correct, sir. >> so you must have been very upset about that? >> considering i had two medals and a great midterm, i was
shocked. i was blind sided. >> during your interviews, were you asked if it would be easier for agencies to retaliate against employees if probationary periods were extended beyond one year and you said, and i quote, yes. >> correct, it would. >> you were also asked, and i quote, given what happened to you and you claim that tsa retaliated against you during your probationary period, would you support probationary periods that are longer than one year and you said, quote, no. is that right? >> in tsa, sir, it hasn't worked. i have seen other agencies where it would. in good faith, it would. in my situation, no, sir. >> there's a proposal that has
been made before our committee to extend the probationary period to make it longer. that would mean that you could have been demoted, even if you work there even longer. do you think that's a good idea? >> well, that recommendation comes with other regulations that include a mentor and 60, 90 day check ups. there's a process that comes with that. i was blind sided. that recommendation wouldn't allow that. >> we made it longer, then whistleblowers like you would have fewer due process protections for an even longer period of time. would you oppose -- you would oppose that change? >> if it came with checks and balances, i would not be opposed. the point is to help the government, not the individual. if it's not balanced, it doesn't work. time is not the issue, it's the
quality. they haven't acted in good faith. >> okay. so, mr. brainard and mr. rhoades, do you agree with that? do you oppose having a longer probationary period when whistleblowers like you have for your protections? >> sir, i think the problem that's plaguing our agency is the fact that we have codes of conduct. we have policies, but we don't follow them. we have leaders that abuse their power and authority. on a general term, if we had competent, ethical leaders you could make it ten years. it wouldn't matter if they would do the right thing. as mr. livingston stated, with the current state of tsa with the retaliation and you have to be in an inner circle or liked to get promoted, i would not support it. >> sir, i really don't care. i don't care if it's a year or two years, as long as there's
checks and balances in place. you have to have engaged leadership that is going to follow the performance. if they are not performing to be successful, they are ended. as long as there's a structured process in place to develop the individual and make a determination if they are a good fit, it doesn't matter how long it is. >> you have a situation where, you are saying no matter who is at the top, you have people that have been there -- i guess most of these people have been there for awhile? >> yes, sir. >> did you want to say something mr. livingston? >> i was going to answer. >> let me finish my question. no matter who you have at the top, you have these folks underneath, i guess many of them have been around for as long as tsa has been around, i guess. am i right? >> yes, sir. >> and, are these people easily
identifiable? i mean, is it easy to know who they are? >> yes, sir. >> yes, sir. >> and, so they basically -- so he can do whatever he wants, put out whatever mandates or rules to correct situations, generally, but unless ucyou hav these folks cooperating, it's still not going to be resolved. is that a fair statement? >> sir, my perspective is they are waiting him out to see if he's sticking through. they are not giving him a fair, honest professional shake. a career professional would support him no matter how long he is going to be there. when he makes a decision, it should be carried out. he's not getting a fair, honest, professional shake. >> when you are talking the whole of tsa, 50,000-60,000
employees, we are talking a handful of people that maintain power in the agency and escaped accountability. some of those people, they departed tsa with a golden parachute or lucrative offer. we are only talking a handful of people. a number of people are outstanding at what they do. there are a number of people in the front line that are outstanding. we are talking a small number of people. they have managed to hold on to it. there are still there and nothing is being done about it. i don't know to what extent they are being empowered to do their job. >> thank you. gentleman from tennessee, mr. duncan. >> thank you. dr. livingston, i have an article that talks about the
$336,000 tsa paid to have you in for producing an app. i have this article that says when an app isn't much more than a random number generator, it's hard to imagine how it could cost that much for the development alone. but it is fip call of government spending. and i understand from the staff that you once recommended an analysis that another employee refused to do and ended up spending $12 million on a project that should have cost just $3 million. would you tell us about that and any other examples of a huge waste that you've seen on your watch? >> yes, sir. when i came on as the deputy assistant administrator for the office of intelligence and analysis, we did a watch for transformation. in that we allocated $3 million
to $3.5 million to do this transformation. there was no al tesh tif analysis completed. it was not managed properly. there was a 30 were 60 were 90 day signature that was not done properly. the wrong equipment was ordered, it arrived. didn't work. we had to do it over and it cost three times the amount. and even today if you went and looked in that watch floor, there's about $500,000 worth of equipment sitting in a box in that office space and there season mannis probably four or five people working. it was a total waste of money. while it may not sound like a lot when you look at the big picture, it's wasted 7, 8, $9 million. that's a lot of money if it was being paid out of our pocket. and the taxpayers would be upset to know that tsa wasted that amount of money. >> it may not sound like much to those in the federal government but it sounds like a lot to the average person out there when
you pay $3 million -- when you pay $12 million for something that should have cost $3 million. do either of you, mr. rhodes, have you seen examples of waste in your positions? >> yes, sir. in minneapolis we built a regional headquarters for a regional director that had no intentions of coming to minneapolis. he stayed in michigan. and throughout that whole process, as i worked with the office of real estate, i would identify why are we spending $300,000 on an office space that this regional director has no intention of coming to. we are in the process right now, minneapolis, of changing that but we're going to spend more money to revamp that office to base for coordination center where we should have done that at the beginning. we identified that years ago. i identified that years ago. but when you make suggestions like that they just move around you or you get cut out of the meeting and you're not consulted
anymore. we've already spent $300,000 on this office space and we're going to spend, i don't know, 100,000, $150,000 potentially more when we should have done it up front. it's gross mismanagement. >> the easiest thing in the world is to spend someone else's money. >> i want to comment on the app that you just mentioned. one of the strongest indicators of the mentality that we have, the feeling that they have bank rolled to do whatever they want no matter how silly it seems. when this story comes out, you find out that the app is no better than chance. i put together this wee ji board with standard screening at the bottom which would have been just as effective as the app and would have cost a lot less. you could have the same outcome with a quarter, flipping a quarter at the check point. >> i understand there have been other software developers who just for fun has reyated a
similar app at almost no cost and paid $336,000 to ibms was a total ripoff it seems to me. >> i do app development as well and i can tell you it does not take a lot of thought to do what they did. >> yes, dr. livingston. >> sir, i wanted to make a comment for the record. i pointed out that fraud waste and abous and abuse and i was t to let it go. this was a lot of money and it was wasteful and nobody took any action. >> let me mention one other thing since my time is running out. mr. rhodes, you think that the wait times at minneapolis airport has been falsified, is that correct? and have you heard about that happening at other locations? >> i cannot comment on other locations. i can comment in minneapolis. in 2014 rereceived a fade rale
investigator office inspection basically a health check. on page 18 of 40 which i provided to this committee, a supervisor at the check point identified that he or she had expressed some frustrations that the wait times that they submit up was being changed by management. i can tell you at the minneapolis-st. paul airport the airport police has begun to tabulate wait times. we're expending police resources at our airports to check on tsa reporting our wait times. and as recently as last month, the airport is investing in some sort of automated wait time calculations. that would indicate, sir, they don't trust the numbers that we're reporting. >> thank you very much. >> i thank the gentlemen. gentle lady from new jersey, ms. watson-coleman, you're
recogniz recognized. >> thank you gentlemen for being here. i want to ask one question. i think it was you, mr. bernard, who said there were only a handful of really bad administrative people. a lot of others have left. you said there's only a handful. is that ten? is that 12? is that five? >> i would say it's less than 20, ma'am. i don't know the precise number. i'm speaking strictly within operations. i don't speak for the aus of law enforcement were global strategies or human capital. there are 13 or 15 different divisions within tsa. i can only speak to what i know and the impact. but operations has the largest piece of the pie. >> i'm really kind of confused on where people are located and i will do that. dr. livingston, you wrote in a statement that you submitted if are the record today, today tsa lacks the leadership courage to make the necessary changes so that the agency can accomplish
its mission, right? >> i did. now in your transcribed interview with committee staff you stated the following. and i quote, i gi him all due credit for being one of the smartest people in dhs and he is the right guy to lead tsa. is that accurate? you said that. >> yes, ma'am. >> thank you. you also stated in your transcribed interview, pete nefen jer has stood up publicly and said this is what we need to do but he is the only voice. why is admiral nefen jer the right guy to lead tsa and what has he said needs to be done at the tsa. >> when i was the deputy assistant administrator, i sat next to him probably eight month as as member of the counter tear riechl advisory board. i know him tore an intel leg churl.
he's a man of integrity. what i don't think is he has a support in cast around him. he can't play every position on the field. i think he has good intentions for tsa. i think he needs a supporting cast to help him. you've heard him here when he's testified. i think he speaks honestly. i think he's well intended. but what i think he needs is the people around him to buy in to what he's doing. he's since hired garry rascot to come in and help him. one example of him trying to get things right. >> you also stated in your transcribed interview, again i quote, here's the thing, the workforce is waiting out mr. nefen jer because they think the elections are coming. having worked in state government at various levels, i know what it is for people to wait for leadership to come in and wait for leadership to come out and they say, we were here when you got here, we're going to be here when you leave. are you speaking of those
individuals that have some kind of a -- i'm going to use this as a generalized term. civil service protection that can't be moved that are representing the most difficult element to deal with and to work with? >> ma'am my intention with that comment was to admit that the middle management and the senior level leadership hasn't provided the necessary leadership to support the administrator to let it be known that they have bought no, no matter how long he's there, whatever he has said should be carried out. whether he's there a day or four years. once he decrease it, it should be carried out regardless of the time frame. that was my intent. >> do you think you could share with me some of the things that you think need to be institutionalized under mr. nefen jer's leadership that would help this agency?
>> yes, i do. he's come out specifically. and when he has his weekly staff meetings he's interested in five things. he wants to know how well we're doing in the airports with the precheck, about the acquisitions, how we're doing with the budget, he wants to know how we're doing with the moral. he's very clear with where he's going. i can provide you that information very clearly. >> thank you. i yield back my time. >> gentleman from north carolina, mr. meadows. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank each of you for your system here today, for you willingness on behalf of the american people to speak up. we know that it does not come without risk. and i for one am committed to making sure that all of our federal employees are treated fairly and certainly when we see retaliation it is troubling.
dr. livingston when i hear some of your testimony, i always watch the audience and i see people nodding their head yes or shaking their head that they can't believe these kind of things are happening. so let me just make sure that i'm clear. during your probationary period were there areas where you were able to appeal to other -- like the special council? did you appeal some of the decision to those or could you have appealed to those? >> sir, the rules from opm is it's a one-year probationary. they have any right to terminate you for any reason. under the current guidelines there's no recourse. the problem is i was never told one time either in writing or verbal to adjust. what i do have is a record of 96 e-mails saying great job. what i do have is a midterm saying great job. there was no indication there was ever a problem. i was told on a monday great job
over the weekend working for some work for the white house. >> right. >> i was told tuesday that you're being nominated for an award and i was told thursday you're done. >> you do have a claim currently with osc, is that correct? >> yes, i have a petition. >> how about from an eeoc. >> i've filed a lawsuit and an eeo as well. >> so you have those two appeals, i guess, sitting out there or at least requests at this particular point. i just wanted to make sure that that's clear, that in addition to this probationary period you've actually filed in those two areas, is that correct?? >> it is a first time for me in 36 years, sir, but i have. >> that's fine when injustice happens or that perceived injustice, want to make sure that you are given the right to appeal. let me go a little further because part of this is a
federal employee mismanagement issue. but the american taxpayers probably are not as intune to that or care about that as much about the safety and security of air travel. >> yes, sir. >> so do you -- is it your testimony, dr. livingston, that this mismanagement is affecting the safety and security of americans? >> sir, it's my testimony today that we have nonintel professionals running your office of intelligence and analysis. >> so no intel running the office of intelligence. all right. is it your testimony here today that the lack of sufficient management practices within tsa is putting americans at risk? >> mr. meadows, i would say that's the case. let me quantify that. when i talk about the lack of experience in positions, right now this summer we are going
into what they call a very challenging challenging season. and we're looking at situations in these airports where they have recently pulled out the conclusion two aspect of expedited screening. that is a very small part of that whole process and package >> right. >> and because they've done that we're going to have the problem. the problem alone with that is the fact that plan a was to put that in place. but nobody sat down and put a plan b in place if they had to pull any one or all of the options off of the table. in this business you have to understand continuity of operations and it's clear to me just on that alone they didn't have a continuity of operation. that's detrimental to our security. additionally when you're talking about security at the airport, you're talking about things like that app, this randomizer. there are stories out this week about a proposal that existed precurrent administrator about not screening passengers on flights out of airports. to me that speaks in and of
itself the level -- >> so your testimony is that correcting this situation is of the highest priority for the security of the american traveler, is that correct? >> absolutely. >> let me finish in the last few seconds. i was in dullus a few weeks back visiting with customs and border protection as we looked at the vetting of visa overstays and exit of the country. in there they indicated that tsa doesn't check all the background areas of potential workers so they can be on a terrorist watch list. they could have other backgrounds and we're not systematically checking all the backgrounds, resources that we have at our disposal. is that correct, dr. livingston? and i yield back to the chairman.
>> sir, let me research and get back to you that. i'm not exactly sure of that. i think that's the case, but let me get back to you specifically. i don't want to mislead you on that but i can find out. >> the gentle lady, miss kelly. >> just for clarity, mr. rhodes, you told committee staff that after march 1st, 2015 no one has told you that they believe wait times are being falsified. is that what you said to the committee staff? >> ma'am, i described to the committee staff that on march 1st, 2015 i was aware of an incident at minneapolis where a manager was in our coordination center. he was counting the wait times of the people in the check point que and he was pulled away to respond to a real incident at the airport. he had counted approximately 18 minutes and then a new manager came in and i believe she counted either somewhere around five. but we reported 18.
>> so is that a yes or no? >> that's, as best as i can tell, is march 1, 2015. but as i stated earlier, ma'am, when the airport police start having police officers count your wait time, it's an indication of trust. and so i would maybe look at that as the measurement, that when police organizations at airports are starting to count the wait times of your check point security que, then something is wrong. >> but to that question, you don't have a yes or no? >> i don't have any information, ma'am. >> in early 2015, the preliminary results of tests of tsa screening operations conducted by the department of homeland security inspector general leaked to the press. the inspector general made findings that according to the
secretary of homeland security jeh johnson, and i quote, were completely unsatisfactory. secretary johnson ordered tsa to implement the ten-point plan. administrator neffenger worked to address what he identified as a, quote, disproportionate focus on efficiency, speed and screening operations rather than security effectiveness. to that end, administrator neffenger testified before this committee that he has provided new training to, quote, every transportation security officer and supervisor to address the specific vulnerabilities identified by the oid tests. mr. brainard, has your staff received this training? >> yes, ma'am. >> you discussed the impact that this training has had, and you stated, well, the management essentials training obviously has improved our situation in terms of how they conduct their
jobs. the thoroughness i mean. there have been improvements in terms of, i think without seeing any test results, the detection capabilities. is that correct? >> yes, ma'am. >> administrator neffenger also refocused and resolving alarms at check points and testified he is readjusting the measurements of success to focus on security rather than speed. when you spoke with committee staff you were asked whether under administrator neffenger there had been a new emphasis on resolve is the alarm, you said, and i quote, absolutely. is that correct? >> yes, ma'am. >> what is the importance of resolving alarms at the check points? >> making sure that our people are thorough. the job that an officer does is certainly the most important job at tsa. one of the hazards of that job is when you're constantly doing the same job every day, it's easy to get lax. i use the word culture and i
mean that, to improve our culture to make sure that people understand the importance of resolving the alarm versus just clearing the passengers and letting them go. part of that was to explain the limitations of the equipment that we had. these are all things that came out of the tiger team effort, some great stuff that happened. certainly since mr. neffenger has been in, there has been a shift to security and trying to get the pendulum to go back so we strike a balance. but i'll offer to you this, a lot of the things we talk about happened prior to the administration, those testing results, those aren't new. they may have been released, but the previous administration knows what our performance was, and they still implemented a number of different programs and processes which in my opinion did not help our security situation. i've talked with the committee staff members about some other security concerns which have happened. all those things took place when they knew, they knew what the testing results were. as a federal security director, i see the testing results within my aor.
i see everything within the state of kansas. what i didn't see prior was everybody else's but that leadership team did. >> what is the nature and impact of tsa's staffing shortages? >> say that again, ma'am. >> what is the nature and impact of tsa's staffing shortages? i'm out of time after you answer. >> that's a very good question. i can sit here probably for the next 20 minutes and talk about it. >> the chairman won't let you do that. >> i know he won't let me do that. let me just say the most important aspect of this. you know, when we are not properly staffed, it causes our people to be under a lot more stress. now, regardless of how much mr. neffenger or myself or our supervisors preach the importance of resolving the alarm, it puts pressure on the officers. when you lock in the media, you've got airports screaming about the possibility of going prioritized. if there's one thing that puts pressure on a federal employee of 13 years is the threat of privatization.
that is one thing that is absolutely at the forefront of their mind. you can't have people focused on the security mission when they're focused on job security. i give mr. neffenger a lot of credit because he's bearing the news to the public, and the word on the street is you remember the day after thanksgiving. that's going to be every day this summer. so it's important for us to make sure that we reassure our officers so that regardless of the fact that somebody is going to have to wait a few extra minutes, we still have their back and have an administrator who fully supports that and that's part of the culture he has established with the tsa. that's a very difficult job, certainly not the most popular job, and we certainly appreciate it. >> mr. chairman, may i add one thing? >> yes. >> we keep talking about the failures at the check points, and candidly, i think that's insulting to tsos, because the leaders put the tsos in that environment. so, yes, they've got a difficult mission. yes, we need to resource them,
but let's not forget the fact that the people who brought us to the dance, the failures of the detection rate, are still in leadership positions. and what training did they get? again, we're deflecting the problem on the tsos, but we're not really talking about all the people in leadership positions who brought them to that dance. >> i thank the gentleman and yield to the gentleman from michigan. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thanks to the panelists for being here. mr. livingston, we've been here today talking about the failure at seemingly all levels, employee morale, training, et cetera, and the consistent terrible rankings that dhs has. what do you think it's going to take to instill a meaningful change in employee morale? >> leadership. accountable leadership that gets results, that's consistent and that is honest. right now there's no trust. >> accountable leadership, go back to that.
what does that mean? >> well, right now the value on conformity and silence is greater than integrity and innovation. if we don't have an agile agency that's more focused on the threat and making security the priority, you're not going to get an agency that's going to be agile. right now the agency is supposed to be working on the threat and right now we're more worried about conformity and silence. if you don't build trust with the work force, you're never going to make the morale better. >> so the results that we're talking about today aren't a surprise to you? >> not in the least bit, sir. >> mr. brainard, we've heard of senior positions being filled with unqualified staff, untrained staff, specifically individuals with little or no management or security experience. can you share your experience in this regard, specifically whether you know of any efforts
on the agency to address this issue. >> let me give you another example and there are several. in 2013 an active shooter opened fire at the los angeles airport, killed one of our officers, wounded two. wounded a total of seven people. in response to that, some of our senior leaders, these folks who have a questionable background and certainly lack the security experience necessary all got together and decided to standardize a check point panic alarm system. the purpose was to press it when there was an imminent threat so our people could have protection at the quickest possible opportunity. so of the 450 airports where they installed those, they installed those alarmt, that's great. a good security move. the problem is they're covert alarms. if you have a law enforcement officer standing there and you have a situation like you did in new orleans, if that officer hadn't been there to take the perpetrator out, several people would have been hurt or possibly killed that day.
how do you install 710 alarm systems on a government contract and forget to put in an audible alarm? we installed an audible alarm in wichita. when you're talking about the changes put into these airports, the rationale behind some of this stuff absolutely makes no sense from a security standpoint. risk-based security is a title that's slapped on everything. and the motto is from the previous administration there's never been a risk i wasn't willing to accept. it's like dealing with a financial investor. you give a financial investor $100,000 of your money and he or she will do things with it they would never do with their own. that's one example of the logic that goes in and the thought process that goes in. one of my counterparts took a survey over a period of five months with calls that we have with tsa leadership prior to
mr. neffenger's arrival. there were 147 topics discussed, not one was security related. they may have talked about playbook or some security aspect but there was always metric driving it and it was a running joke. this is the priority of that leadership. >> let me jump to another point here. can you walk us through the process that tsa engages when they are evaluating a potential new hire. >> at which level, sir? >> at any level. a new hire in management level specifically but any other. what's the process that tsa walks through? >> it varies. with officers obviously there's an online process and locally we're not involved in that. we'll do candid assessments and so forth. there's a background check. i don't get a lot of insight of that. posting it on usa jobs. then you have within the ses level and those are done by the executive resource council at tsa headquarters. it varies with different components. >> mr. rhodes, complaints to leadership at tsa going unacknowledged, ignored, et cetera, have you ever heard justification for these
complaints not being accepted or reviewed? >> no, sir, there's no logical explanation for that. >> what explanations have been given? >> precisely, none. >> none at all? >> no contacts, no e-mails, i've got a differing opinion, that's a good idea, nothing. >> so it just happens, allowed to happen? >> i can't answer that. the only thing i can answer, sir, is i have not been contacted. >> thank you. i yield back. >> the gentleman from massachusetts. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank the witnesses for your help on the committee with its work today. in my previous life i was a union steward and a union president and later on a labor lawyer practicing labor law on behalf of unions. i'm just curious, when i was a steward on the work site, when i had employees that were being
treated unfairly, i would take it on myself. that would be my job. i would deal with management and make sure that people were being treated fairly. that way, my workers weren't continually banging heads with management. it was me. i sort of enjoyed that work, but a lot of people don't. would it be helpful at all in your workplace if you had somebody like that that you could go to that would -- i know that afgee is the signatory in the workplace but you don't have full bargaining rights and all the rights that the other federal employees have. would that be helpful? >> sir, i'd like to answer that. i'd like to first answer this by saying my afg president from minnesota is here in attendance in support of this testimony. >> great. >> i think the fact that she is here supporting me talking about
mismanagement in my agency is a powerful signal, hopefully, to my agency. i'll start off by saying this. my afg president in minneapolis and i sat in my office. the management wanted to fire this person because he made a mistake. when i looked at the penalties, it was excessive. i did what's called a designated grievance official. i reversed it, eliminated it. we had a great conversation in my office. i owned the decision. like i said, as long as you have ethical leaders willing to do the right thing and not be coerced from the top, it could work, but it requires ethical leadership. >> i understand that. >> totally off topic, i grew up in brain tree, massachusetts. >> that's my district. >> yes, sir. >> you're still voting there, you know.
>> i wish i could. >> we know how you'll vote anyway so we'll do that on your behalf. >> yes, sir. >> i don't want to spend a lot of time on that. just what do you think, mr. livingston? >> sir, the most important thing about tsa is the people. the people and the mission. if you don't make the two match, tsa's never going to get better. we've got a great leader but it's getting lost in translation. >> look, i'm very happy to hear about mr. neffenger and he's been before this committee. he's a frequent flier here and he is trying to put in some of the changes that we need. i want to jump to something else though. we did talk with mr. neffenger about the -- look, checkoints are very important. if you google check point bombings or check point attacks, you look at what happened in brussels. you look at what happened at the airport check point, at the rail check point, suicide bombers detonating at both of those. look at paris outside the stadium where president hollande was watching the game between france and germany. those suicide bombers hit at the check point. so what goes on at that check
point is incredibly important. we got to have a whole different strategy for how we handle that because that's been the focal point of all these attacks. and i'm not calling out my tsa screeners, but as the ranking democrat on the national security subcommittee, i go to those classified briefings and i saw what the inspector general did, sending people through with ace bandages with knives in there or a gun strapped to their leg. i got to tell you, like 90% of those folks got through. 90% of them. these are major airports in our country. so i'm not looking to place the blame on any particular aspect of this, but that is unacceptable. so we got to work together.
mr. neffenger has said he's going to go back and redesign this whole thing so that we'll do a better job at that. but i cannot not criticize when we have a 90% failure rate. so that's got to change. we got a lot of turnover and i think some of that is related to the fact that we don't -- the way we treat our employees. this ought to be a profession. these folks are doing incredibly important work. people yell about protecting our borders. well, that screener at that airport, that is your border. we got to make sure that those employees have the protection and the rights to be able to do their job. one of the things i'm concerned about and this is what i want to ask you about. my concern from a national security standpoint is whether or not those passengers are screened efficiently. the airline priority is moving
people through that check point and getting -- that's why you got these people being timed, your screeners being timed on how many people -- what's the wait time on getting these people through. anybody who travels and we all travel regularly, you got to get there a little earlier, you got to adjust your schedule in case you do have an alert or something like that at the airport and we want our screeners to do a damn good job. so the priority has to be safety and security and what's going on at that check point. it can't be the airline needs to move product, needs to move people through that. so what do you think is winning out today between those two priorities? effective screening or moving passengers, that's the priority that's prevailing today in our nation's airports? >> sir, i don't speak for the agency but i can tell you that we're not going to compromise security for speed. i can tell you that we're going to balance it. tsa is not going to compromise
our mission to expedite passengers through at the expense of our mission. what we're going to do is get better. we're going to keep pushing precheck, pushing a better process, and we're going to get more people and we're going to get better at this. mr. neffenger has made it a priority. there's a day that doesn't go by at tsa where this isn't the priority. i can tell you that every single senior leader that he talks to at tsa, this is the topic of discussion. >> okay. >> i don't want you to think that it's not a priority. >> okay. but i got to go back to the original point i made earlier, he needs the right team to do it. >> sure. >> sir, if i can, i work in the field operation and i'm responsible for everything in the state of kansas. i was at maine last year, iowa ten years before that, indiana before that. there's a stereotype with the airlines that all they care about is customer service. that's not accurate. there are a lot of airlines and airports who partner with tsa
every day. we are the only entity with the dhs that deals with three constants, departures, arrivals, connections. when we're not doing our zob, they have a right to be upset. the problem right now is that the previous leadership team oversaw tsa put in a plan a without a plan b. that's reflective upon that leadership. i don't think there's a day that mr. neffenger doesn't come to work and he didn't get full disclosure when he took the appointment and god bless him for being here but he's out trying to cheer lead this. but that's why we're at where we're at. it's the lack of leadership that got us there. we did not have a plan b when we put in plan a. >> mr. chairman, thank you. >> let me turn to the gentleman from alabama, mr. palmer. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. rhodes, i believe you used to work alongside former acting
head ken kassprizen. he has stated before that thousands of airport workers who are only subject to random checks are the single greatest threat to aviation security. now tsa employees are regularly rooted out rummaging through baggage or inappropriate behavior. my concern is that there are only three u.s. airports that currently require employee checks. in atlanta they had a major gun running operation busted in 2014. we have reports that there's some 73 employees at about 40 airports who potentially have terrorist ties. at some point is the tsa causing more insecurity than it solves? frankly, as a very frequent traveler, it gives me some concern that the screening
process may identify potential terrorists, yet they continue to work there. >> let me try to answer that question, sir. i believe if the tsa was mandated to screen every employee at airports, it would require much more resources. i am unqualified to professionally comment on how much those resources would require, but what i can say is that the minneapolis/st. paul airport, there are i believe over 10,000 people that work at that airport. obviously some of them come during various times of the day and various shifts, and certainly the insider threat has received a new focus based upon world events. but i will say we are resourced in fte. i'm unqualified to comment
whether we should also receive resources in that but i can say that's not our specific focus. >> let me put it this way. obviously we're talking about basic screening, right? >> yes, sir. >> every staff member that works here goes through screening to get into an office here, and in terms of being able to do their job, if you know you have to go through a screening process, you show up early. is that unreasonable? >> no, that's not unreasonable, sir. i think what our administrator has done rightfully so is reducing some of those access points at those airports. if you're aside of side badges and various access points, those are available to some employees. however, again, i don't have any data to suggest -- or talk intelligently with respect to how many access points. at minneapolis the number of access points have been reduced
and we continue to reduce them. >> think about it for a moment, if we know there's the tsa thinks there's 73 potential employees potentially with terrorist ties, that's who they've identified that there might be potentially others and that we're not screening them, it doesn't give you a high comfort level. >> i don't disagree with you, sir. >> mr. brainard, i'd like to follow up on mr. duncan's questions regarding wasteful spending. you described expenditures such as $300,000 on an absentee director. a $12 million budget that's three times its original amount. i could amount ask for a hearing on project overruns. $336,000 on an app that you, mr. brainard, described being as effective as a ouija board. i'm sure the more we continue to hear from other employees at different airports we're going to continue to hear similar stories to that effect. you might be aware that last april the tsa aviation security
advisory committee released a report concluding that they could not afford full employee screening and it would not reduce insider threats. do you believe this illustrates where the priorities lie when you look at this other spending? >> thank you for the question, sir. when it comes to spending, another example to give you where they could have put the money into making -- toward making something like that happen. when they did the directed reassignments i went from iowa to maine. i had received near perfect evaluation. there was no vacancy in maine. the federal security director m maine received a perfect evaluation. he was sent to wisconsin. between the two of us you're talking in excess of a quarter million dollars that was earmarked for those directors. all of these federal security directors were performing in excessive standards. no federal security director had
more experience, the main operation was smaller and less complex than i had. the fsd in arkansas, north carolina, los angeles. his spouse from los angeles to washington d.c. there was no reason for these moves. i don't know what the price tag is on all those moves, but we could have certainly used that funding more appropriately. >> well, and that just brings me back to the point i was trying to make with mr. rhodes. you're spending all this money and we know that not every tsa employee is up to standard. potentially 73 may have terrorist ties. but we're spending all this money and we're not investing in the security apparatus that we need to make sure absolutely positively certain that we have the very best people on the job and that we're protecting our airports. i saw you shaking your head, dr.
livingston. i presume you may have a comment. >> sir, full disclosure, just like my partner to the left, we're from the same area as well. >> i'm from hackleburg, alabama and i live in hoover. by the way, today is the five-year anniversary of the tornados that went through alabama with such devastating impact. >> wow, okay. >> thank the gentleman. did you want to finish your response? >> yes, sir. to answer your question, there needs to be greater oversights. i was part of the office that identified that original 73. we didn't have access to the list. i was actually part of the team that decided we needed to notify ntct to say we didn't have access to that database. i've been part of the team that identified we need to do a better job at screening. so there is an opportunity to do better screening and for tsa to
do better monetary discipline. i identified the $10 million excess spent on a watch floor. so yes, sir, there is an opportunity to be more prudent with the taxpayers' money. any time you see an example of waste, fraud, and abuse, we've got to do better. >> i thank the chairman. i yield back. >> thank the gentleman. the gentleman from missouri, mr. clay. >> thank you, mr. chair. mr. livingston, tsa cut its screening staff over the past couple of years, anticipating that its precheck program would help speed up the overall process, but not enough passengers have enrolled. news reports have indicated that morale inside the tsa is extremely low which is likely a factor contributing to staffing shortages affecting tsa security. reports indicate that travelers
are arriving at security check points where not all available queues are open for general screening. i can attest to that going through st. louis's airport. i'm part of the precheck program but more often than not it's closed. i'm told by officers that they don't have enough people to staff it. is there a long-term strategy to fix the morale issue and the employment issue? >> yes, sir. there is a plan. i know that the administrator has touted the fact that we're putting 200 extra tso officers through the academy each week. both of my counterparts can speak to the screening process. from the precheck standpoint i know that we're putting more advertising out to get more people enrolled. we're trying to get more people into the program, trying to show
them the advantages of that. precheck is a high priority for the agency and we're trying to get more people into that. once we do that, the more people that are in precheck, we can sustain that much better. i'll let my counterpart -- >> here's the point. the excuse i get at st. louis airport is we don't have enough officers to staff it. so is that just something they're telling me? >> sir, there is a staffing issue. i know the administrator has talked to omb about staffing issues. i know that there is a long-term strategy to address that issue. it's a resource issue of both money and people. it's going to take some time but we have addressed that. there's a short, mid-term and a long term plan. he's working with the senior staff to do that and i think both of these gentlemen who are working in the airport can tell you what they're doing daily. >> some have suggested shifting officers from tsa's controversial behavior detection
program to regular screeners. so let me go on. mr. rhodes, i have a question for you. kind of concerned about an article i'm reading about a mohammed fa ra from minneapolis. are you familiar with him? >> yes. >> here's what he says. there's an ongoing program of racial profiling and harassment by tsa agents at the twin cities airport. he said recently he was asked by an agent who said, quote, hey, were you going to make a run for it if i hadn't given your ticket back? and the response he's gotten from tsa and the congressman
from that area, mr. ellison, is that they take these complaints seriously. i think it's a little bit more than that. he's also been given a tsa control number from the agency's redress program, and he said it doesn't help either. so what can we do for mr. fa ra that would change the conditions that he experiences every time he goes through your airport? >> thank you for that question, sir. you may not realize but there's a "new york times" article that was published this morning about profiling. you may know that in my opening statement i was asked to profile somali imams and community members visiting me in my office. those are facts. it's contained in my mid year evaluation that i provided to
this committee. mohammed fa ra is the director of kajug. i was not at the check point during that time so i can't intelligently speak to what was or was not said. what i can say is whether you're black, white, male, female, somali, jew, christian, hindu, we should treat you the same. it doesn't matter if you're flying on whatever airlines, you should be treated with respect. again, i'm not either taking mohammed's position or refuting his position in so much as i'd say that when we get to know people of the somali community, they're hard working. they want to be american citizens. my mother was an immigrant, was a japanese national, became a u.s. citizen and took her oath of citizenship in boston, massachusetts. >> how are you going to change
mr. fara's experience when he encounters your agent, your officers? >> the best way i can answer that, sir, is like any investigation or inquiry, you get the facts. i have met mohammed fara many times. we can at times have what's called a passenger support specialist, have someone assigned to him in the future when he flies out to make sure things like that don't happen. we're happy to do that. >> have you disciplined the officers that he has encountered? >> i don't know the names of the officers. i'm unqualified to speak to that. i don't have that information with me. >> your camera footage can identify them. you have identified these officers? >> again, sir, i don't have those facts. what i am suggesting is in my own experience with respect to the tsa, they've been less than forthcoming in addressing my complaints. so i would say that my complaints mirror mohammed
fara's. >> this is totally unacceptable. >> has somebody from tsa gotten back to you with these questions? >> no. i'm reading this today and realizing this guy is being mistreated. >> would you like somebody from -- >> sure, i certainly would. >> i'll take that and get back to you with somebody from tsa. >> let me recognize the gentleman from georgia, mr. carter, now. >> thank you mr. chairman. thanks to all of you for being here. we appreciate your presence here today. i want to start with you, mr. brainard, if that's okay. as i understand it, at one point you were assigned in iowa, is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> while you were there in iowa you received the highest performance rating that you could possibly receive while you were working there?
>> yes, sir. >> and also i believe that you received a federal security director of the year award. >> yes, sir. i received the federal security director of the year, the secretary team award and one of the two top awards you can receive in our agency and a number of other types of awards from local stakeholders, partner centers, things like that. >> then as i understand it, they tried to reassign you to maine? >> yes, sir. >> they tried to reassign you to maine? >> they did reassign me to maine. >> after you received all these accolades and awards? >> yes, sir. >> do you believe that that was their way of trying to get rid of you to reassign your position? >> i can't speak to their motives. it would be unfair for me to speak to their motives. i'll speak to facts. >> was it a bigger airport? were you needed there? >> no, sir. smaller airport, less complex. >> why would an agency take one of their best employees -- they
wouldn't have given you these awards if they didn't think you were doing a good job and put you at a smaller airport where you would not be as useful? >> according to them the reason was because my skill set was needed for that particular operation. unfortunately, there was another federal security director who had the same length of service in that i did and who had been a high performer. that's the reason they provided each of the federal security directors who happened to be the longest serving federal security directors in tsa. there was a caveat, there were at least three federal security directors i was aware of that they did not move but they had to sign a agreement to stay at their duty station one year and they would retire and forfeited their right to take any litigation against the agency. three people were provided an exemption with the caveat that they had to require. there was an announcement which reminded everybody that putting pressure or coercion on employees to retire is prohibited.
>> let me ask you -- you did relocate to maine? >> yes, sir. >> when you relocated to maine, was that a financial hardship on you? >> oh, yes. >> and your family? >> yes, sir. >> was there a vacancy near where you were before? >> no. there was no vacancy. there was in maine a sitting federal security director, no vacancy. if there had been a vacancy there were certainly other people there at the operation qualified to fill these positions. it's important to note that when you're moving this particular skill set around the country, we have some 750 assistant federal security directors and deputy federal security directors. the men and women that fill those positions, most of them are more than qualified. >> how much would it have cost tsa to relocate you to portland, maine? >> they earmarked on the pcs in excess of $100,000. >> i've got in my notes $113,000.
>> that would be accurate. >> is this happening elsewhere? mr. rhodes? >> it happens everywhere. as you may read in my written testimony, i'd like to call the example of mark haut. this was a gentleman who was moved from charlotte to los angeles. when he moved from virginia over to charlotte, the agency paid him $197,000 for one move. during that time, two of his sisters and his brothers died. his wife, after he got a directed reassignment to los angeles was given a directed reassignment in los angeles back to washington d.c. on the opposite end of the united states. that's the punitive nature of directed reassignments and the high cost. >> let me make sure i'm understanding this now. so this is taxpayers' money that
we're paying this? >> yes, sir. >> we could be talking about millions of dollars in taxpayers' money. >> you are talking about millions of dollars. >> but it also causes the employee financial hardship. >> when they moved me to iowa, my counterpart in jacksonville couldn't come. he was off on medical. you know what they did? they tdyed an isn't director in iowa, put him in a hotel for nine months, nine months. they put her in that hotel for nine months, and they didn't fill that position until january of 2015. >> sir, ed goodwin from florida, he was given a directed reassignment. he was supposed to replace jay brainard in des moines. his parents were 89 and i believe 95 years old. one of them had alzheimer's. his daughter was a high school senior in her last year of high school, and he was under water in his mortgage.
they gave him a directed reassignment. what he did, he quit. he resigned. and that's -- the "new york times" wrote about him as well. that's what our agency does to people they want to run out. >> we've got a number of moving parts here. we've got what i consider to be wasting taxpayers' money and i'm very concerned about -- we've got another concern about whether this is intentional and in a way to get rid of employees or discipline employees. mr. chairman, i just have to tell you, i'm pretty disgusted right now and i'm looking forward to us having another hearing. from what i understand, we're going to be doing that. certainly we want to get to the bottom of this. mr. chairman, i'll yield back. thank y'all again for being here. >> thank the gentleman. i'll recognize the delegate from the district, ms. norton. >> thank you, mr. chairman. could i say to all three of you that we very much appreciate your service and appreciate your courage in coming forward. i share the equal employment opportunity commission and i'm
very interested in this kind of alleged retaliation. it's interesting that when congress passed title seven itself it passed a retaliation provision in the statute. it's very, very important, and of course if there isn't any sense that one cannot be punished for coming forward, there's a very, very heavy presumption against coming forward. i was very interested in hearing that. i don't remember, even though i had to essentially reform the entire agency, creating new parts of the agency, bringing
together people -- i don't remember anything called directed reassignments. in my view, i can think of no more powerful instrument in the hands of an agency. you testified, i think it was you, mr. rhodes, that somebody just quit. >> yes. >> if that was the intention, it certainly worked. mr. livingston, let me just start with you because you reported that you indeed did suffer discrimination at tsa. is that right? >> yes, ma'am. >> what was the basis for the discrimination? >> it started with the disability harassment. then it was based on my veteran status, they were making fun of me for my service connected to disabilities. then it started as the management directed official in a case for eeo. i found against the senior ses for preselection.
then it started with the sexual harassment, another ses asked me to lie and i refused. then there was another case where i reported serious security violations and it started -- that same official security violations and it started -- that same official testified against me in my erc or my probationary period. >> this seems like one thing leads to another. >> if you tell the truth in tsa, you will be targeted. i call it the lord of the flies. you either attack or be attacked. >> ma'am, if i may? >> yes. >> i was accused of going native. >> going what? >> going native. >> you'll have to explain that, sir. >> ma'am, it's a slang term where i was visiting mosques in my official role working with the somali community where jeh johnson, my secretary, tells me he wants me to conduct community outreach.
and my supervisor accused me of going native. i take that to mean i'm somehow converting to islam, i'm acting as a native. it's a disgusting, bigoted term. and when i think of that within the context of my written mid-year evaluation that tells me to profile somali people, i'm disgusted by it. going native? i'm truly disgusted by it. >> now, this committee and i think the house has unanimously passed a bill called the federal employee anti-discrimination act to help hold managers accountable. the kinds of retaliation that would happen below your level perhaps is apparently better taken care of.
as original co-sponsor, it looks like most of the committee was. this bill by the way is pending in the senate. it hasn't passed the senate yet. but it would require the agencies to keep track of every single complaint. somehow with the string of issues, mr. livingston, for example, you indicated there would have to be a tracking of the complaint through inception and resolution. do you think this would help bring some additional level, mr. livingston, any of the three of you, i'll start with you, mr. livingston, to the process? >> yes, ma'am, i think anytime there's checks and balances, you track that, i think that's always a good thing. >> see if something funny is going on here with the string of -- you see the string of -- >> oh, yes, ma'am.
i think tsa has a management protocol problem. i think if you can track and show the process, and i know the committee has looked at it for years. if you can show that because all these leaders are not bad. some are very good, exceptional. i can name several. but all it takes is somebody to circumvent that process and you've ruined the good work of many. but if you track that and you quantify it and you can show the progress of the well intended, i think everybody benefits. if you have toxic, cancerous leaders that are injected into this process, it undoes all the good work that the well-intended leaders do. that's why mr. neffenger needs a team around him that can do that. this process you're talking about, this tracking, this mechanism, the numbers and the data doesn't lie. it's forever. once you put it into the record and once you track it, it's
consistent over time. and that's what we need, is consistent, persistent quality leadership. because factual data will make us better. >> mr. livingston, they gave me something of what you said to staff indicating that these nondisclosure agreements stand in the way. i noticed -- and of course i'd like to know whether you think our bill that says that you can't restrict the employee from disclosing waste, fraud or abuse to the congress, special council or the inspector general, whether that reaches far enough. >> i think we overuse the nondisclosure agreements in my agency. i think every legal case we have ends in one, and i think that's an abuse of the power that we have. i did write a statement to that. i will look for it very quickly and read it to you.
every case from a misconduct to an eeo case ends in nda, that hides the potential to make us better. at worst, it shows our problems. at the at least it shows a coverup. every case can't be an nda. we should have public disclosure. we should show the public what we're doing and if we're hiding it, we're hiding something. >> i thank the gentleman and we'll recognize the gentleman from south carolina. mr. mulvaney. >> i thank the chairman and i wish that mr. lynch had stuck around for just a few minutes because he said something and i thought mr. brainard handled it very well. but i'll go back just for the record and say that mr. lynch mentioned that the airlines were just interested in moving product. you handled it extremely well. that's unfair. i know some folks who work there and their families fly, their friends fly and they care just as much about safety as we do. it's probably just as inaccurate to say that the airlines only care about moving product as it would be to say that all you care about is safety and that
you don't care about the folks who have to stand in line and how long they do. in fact, i look forward to a longer conversation with mr. lynch as to who cares less about people, a corporation or bureaucracy. my guess is they're probably tied. but i want to get back to the purpose of the hearing which is to talk a little about the way the employees are treated. i just have to ask, and i don't know the answer to this question. is anybody familiar with the circumstance that happened in charleston, south carolina with a miss kimberly barnett? does that name ring a bell for anybody? >> no, sir. >> just an example of exactly what we've talked about here today. she complained about her supervisor falsifying records in her area. her area dealt with the canine use of a dog. and then she went to the osc, which is where she was supposed to go and made the complaint in june of 2014 and by november of 2014 she was fired. she was fired over a completely different allegation regarding using inappropriate language when her car got struck by a bus. i wanted to mention her because
this is -- it's more than just you gentlemen. we've heard your stories but i think everybody from every one of our district can bring some of these stories in. let's talk about how we can fix this if it can be fixed. mr. livingston, your language was accountable leadership which i agree with. can you name for me a federal agency that has that? >> i used to work at the nuclear regulatory commission and i thought they had great leadership. i've worked at the department of the navy. i thought they had it. >> and they may have. all i can tell you is maybe it's just a function of what we do in this committee but since we see the bad stuff all the time we can tell you that again and again and again we can bring in examples of leadership breaking down, leadership not being accountable, of folks not being able to fire people. we could do -- you could have a hearing here every single day. on how poorly the v.a. is run
from the very same reasons. you mentioned one of the challenges that the agency faces is personnel and then i think you said that it was staffing and that it was money. but i feel it's incumbent on me that we haven't cut out your budgets. so when you tell me that every day this summer is going to be like the day after thanksgiving is, why is that? it can't just be money. in fact, it can't be money because we haven't changed the money that much. >> we are in a perpetual human resource model. we don't have a sustainable model where we recruit and retain and promote the best work force. if you don't sustain top quality people you're not going to get the best work force. if we're always recruiting because we're always losing, you're not going to get the best people. if you don't take care of the people that you hired, they're not going to stay. if you don't take care of the people that you hired and get them into a career development leadership program and take your best people and groom them for bigger, better positions, if you don't send them to the top level schools and invest in them, if you don't make people feel important and like you care about them, they're not going to
stay no matter where they are. >> i tend to agree with that. in fact, i agree with that wholeheartedly. in fact, anybody here who has ever had to hire or fire people or run an organization public or private probably agrees with that statement. >> it's not money, sir. it's concern, care and leadership. if people think you care about them, they'll take a bullet for you. >> i absolutely agree. which leads me to my real question here. why are we doing this? you've just described the same challenge any private entity has in running an operation. bureaucracies. the stories that you guys have told about whistleblowers getting fired, about not being able to deal with malperforming employees, unaccountable leadership, we hear that in here every single day from every single agency that we bring in. so my question is, why are we doing this? why wouldn't it be better to let
private services serve this function? why are we doing this? can you defend the agency as to why the federal government needs to be doing this? if y'all were contractors, there's always the threat of we just fire them, we didn't renew the contract. we don't have that with the tsa. so i guess i'm asking you to defend the federal role here. so why are we doing this as a federal government as opposed to letting the private sector serve this need? mr. rhoades? >> i'd like to take a stab at that. >> sure. >> i think one of the essential elements of government is to protect its people. it's why you have a standing army. i grew up as an army ranger, and a ranger lives and breathes, a leader is responsible for his or her unit. he or she is responsible for everything that unit does or fails to do. when there are failures, there must be consequences to those failures. we don't have consequences to our failures in tsa. if this would have happened in the military, entire people in the chain of command would have been relieved. >> and if a private sector company came to us with a 90%
failure rate we would fire them and replace them with somebody else. >> absolutely, yes, sir. but i'm just suggesting that whether it's private, whether we're title 5, whether we stay under atsa, in my view is irrelevant. it requires the most essential ingredient in a private company and i worked for kraft foods in marketing, and that's leadership. i know it's the intangibles but that's why we're all here. because there's failures in leadership. it's failures in accountability. failures of performance. but there's been nothing done. and that's why we're here. >> maybe my frustration -- i will cut you off because i'm over time and i don't want to take away from mr. grothman. but that frustration is embodied and experienced in this committee every single day. >> yes, sir. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate the indulgence. >> i thank the chairman. mr. grothman, you're recognized. >> we'll start with mr. livingston. on the sheet they give us they call you dr. livingston. >> yes, sir. >> sorry about that.
are you aware of examples of an investigation that you believe was used specifically to remove anybody from an agency? can you give me any specific examples? >> i know that the morale survey that was used against me was tainted. i know that the oi investigation that was used against an fsd in miami was used as an instrument to thwart a complaint. i know those are two examples. >> what did you do that you get yourself in trouble that they go after you? >> anytime you go against the grain or you report misconduct or tell on certain favorite people, if you do anything that goes against the favored people, if you report misconduct, if you report sexual harassment, if you report security violations, if you do anything against the top tier or anything of that nature, it just seems to go against the grain. you identify yourself as a nonplayer. if you don't shut up, you don't
move up. >> in other words, the mentality is not to do the best job that they can at what tsa should be doing, the idea is to establish a kind of respect for the people at the top? >> yes, sir. i come from a dod background where everything is a learning opportunity. we always do a hot wash after we have an exercise or incident or a crisis. we always learn from that mistake. everything is integrity based. if you don't say something you're considered a weak leader. i think the opposite at tsa. if you say something you're considered an outsider. when i reported sexual harassment, i had someone say, hey, if she files a complaint, it's our word against hers. i said, no, i'm not going to lie. he says, well, if you don't, we can't work with you. and if you're going to be a boy scout, you'll be on my blank list. so obviously i was on the outside from the get-go. i was stunned. that another s.e.s. would ask me to lie. and then when i didn't i was an outcast. >> because you saw something happen and were going to report
it? >> absolutely. and i did. >> horrible mentality. we'll give mr. brainard and mr. rhoades a question. could one of you give a background kind of on how integrity tests are conducted at the airports? >> so i can give you some insight. integrity testing in tsa went into high gear shortly after a media story about ipads had taken place. our tsa office of inspection otherwise known as internal affairs will come out and they will run test items through, cash cards, money, dvds, colognes, and things like that. so the testing items come out, they conduct the integrity tests. when they conduct the integrity tests they'll come through with these items and then the federal security director will get a call. and we will be notified of the outcome. generally speaking they'll say we came through with x, y, and z items, can you recover them for us or return them to the lost and found? i will give you an example which i think that you certainly will appreciate.
one of the items that they're notorious for planting in an airport are pens. they'll throw a pen on the floor, let's say, in queue, and tsa picks it up and doesn't turn it in they'll fly back out a couple of investigators and they'll literally interrogate them and push for a resignation or they'll propose removal for theft for a pen. and i know this because they've done it in my airports. i know this because they've joked about the fact it's the most successful test they have. there was a tso at an airport in the midwest who when he picked up the pen threw it in the garbage because he didn't put any intrinsic value on the pen, didn't think it was worth any money. it's a $200 mont blanc pen. in my operation i happened to be one of the worst offenders of picking up pens that people are using. but the irony in all this when talking about testing is that you hold the people in the field to the highest standard. the people at headquarters to the lowest standard. we have people who are picking up pens, pens, and they're
sending out these criminal investigators for noncriminal matters. oh, by the way it's commonplace for them to come out and threaten people with criminal prosecution. as a matter of fact, they'll take a non-criminal case to a local prosecutor as part of the tsoi fairness act to say they're spending 50% of their time on criminal investigation so they can check that box. and they take and hold the field to a much different standard of accountability. they're doing people for pens while you've got people at our headquarters that are abusing their staff members. >> so in other words, just kind of for kicks they put up stupid -- put a stupid plastic pen on the ground and if somebody -- >> it's a mont blanc pen. it's a metal pen. i can go to cvs and get something that looks like it. and i couldn't tell the difference between that and a $7 pen. i've never in my 13 years seen a passenger go and turn a pen in to a lost and found at the airport. i'm sure it might have happened at some point but if that's not the most ridiculous use of the taxpayers' money i don't know
what is. >> do you think when they do these tests, do you think they ever target individual employees or individual airports, or is there -- >> no, i believe the test -- i've never seen any indication that the tests are conducted for any particular reason. >> just kind of a general waste of sniem. >> i think that portion of the test is. i think 9 integrity testing is absolutely essential. one of the things -- i know you know this. the only people that hate to see thefts in the workplace more than the american public are our own employees. we don't want them working for us any more than the public does. >> okay. thanks for the extra time. >> thank you. let me yield to ms. norton -- or let me yield to mr. cummings. then ms. norton. >> first of all, i'm going to have to go to another meeting. i want to thank you for being here. you have provided some very significant testimony.
i think we need -- you know, as i said earlier, i think we need to see the entire picture. but we certainly cannot have a situation where whistleblowers even worry about retaliation, let alone be the victims of it. i think you'll get that concern from both sides of the aisle. and so again i want to thank you all and we have -- and we've got to find a way to cut out that layer that you're talking about. those people who seem to want to -- the things to go on the way they had been going on and the way they had been going on is not healthy. and it takes away from the morale. of the agency. and it takes away from its effectiveness and efficiency. and this whole idea -- i know ms. norton is going to explore this, but this whole idea of
people being sent from one part of the country to another and if that's about retaliation, i'm going to tell you something. to me, that's criminal. >> i agree. >> really. because families are so important and the individual who those families who have to go through that hell, you know, your wife is on the one end, and husband on the other, you know, life is short. and so -- but anyway, i'll yield to ms. norton. and thank you. >> yes, sir. >> i thank the ranking member for those comments. i just want to make sure i understand the difference between the legitimate use of a tool for management and its abuse. and i had asked you before about these directed reassignments. i can see how it opens itself hugely for abuse and noted that apparently -- it's interesting. we passed the bill, but it looks like internally the agency has
begun to take some action because it became apparently so open. and such a problem within the agencies. i want to ask particularly -- i asked about the directed reassignments. here's a legitimate tool. i want to know if it's been misused because i see this tool all across the government. and this is the capacity of the agency to ask the employee to move every four years. now, we see that -- i mean, the state department. we see it in the services of the -- armed services of the united states. i'm sure i see it because i see very often a different person from the national parks service. but i note that a former -- i
think this is a former administrator of tsa suspended the tour of duty initiative whereby the fsds would be moved every four years. why would he do that? >> so if i can take that -- you're speaking of mr. caraway. he was the acting administrator for about a minute in between the transitions. mr. caraway only saw the detrimental effect that it had on the culture of our workforce, he'd also been subjected to it himself. so he walked that mile. mel was a good man. mel suspended that practice. when mr. neffenger came in during his october leadership summit in 2015 he reaffirmed to hold what mr. caraway had done. i'm not sure if they tried to do it since mr. caraway put a freeze on it because sometimes there are things that go on, you don't find out until after the bell's been rung. but mr. caraway freezed that process. anybody would.
when you sit down with the information, it's crystal clear. it's blatant. it's obvious. >> so it was a problem in that agency? i indicated that tsa is not unusual in having this tour of duty notion. >> it actually is. last year, when i hired in as a federal security director right after 9/11 i did not sign the mobility agreement. >> what kind of agreement? >> mobility agreement. >> mobility agreement. >> the ses -- >> you don't have to sign it? >> do not. the ses signs the mobility agreement. the tsa office of law enforcement signs a mobility agreement. the senior leadership development program if you want to be a candidate you sign a mobility agreement. but there is no tour of duty on that. what they did is they established a mobility process with the federal security directors and then just started moving them around. and they didn't have a business reason to do it. regardless of what was put in there. that certainly -- we're certainly able to articulate that. >> mr. rhoades? >> ma'am, mr. brainard did talk about how mel caraway suspended tour of duty links initiative.
that happened in november 2014. i received any directed reassignment february 19th. >> so that's different from tour of duty. >> you're just calling the same thing. a directed reassignment. what's probably important for the committee to understand, on the night of february 19th, 2015 my former federal security director called mel caraway on his cell phone. i was in his house. i heard every word mel caraway said. "rhoades shouldn't have gotten that reassignment. i suspended that action. that did not go through the resource council." so it goes back to the point that i want to reinforce here. we can have all of the policies we want written down. but if we're going to ignore them or work around them or lie about them, then it's ineffective. >> so you can call it a -- you can call it a tour of duty reassignment, you can call it a
directed reassignment. i'm pleased that my friends and colleagues on the other side have the same view about the kind of minimal protections even at your level that civil servants have. i do note that though we -- i'm so pleased we passed the -- a bill ourselves, just waiting for the senate. you know, it didn't take a bill to do something about this. i noted that on march 24th of this year, the president -- apparently the present administrator, a detailed explanation of why this employee must be reassigned involuntarily versus any other options. any other options it seems to me is important for this employee and/or the new position. does that help this situation? >> this is a question of using policy in such a way that you can push an agenda that's not healthy for the organization.
there would be legitimate reasons why you might do a directed reassignment. you might have somebody who is not performing well. you may have hired the wrong person for the system. abusive to workforce. you may not be able to terminate somebody, they may not have reached that level. but you are prepared to sit down and have an options meeting and say, look, we need to talk about the road ahead and you being at this location is not going to work. there are circumstances where you would do a directed reassignment. i think there's some legitimacy to that. this goes back to do you have a policy in place that governs this and if there is, are people manipulating the policy? i'll tell you a comment i heard and i'll say it in this hearing because there are about 300 witnesses to it on the conference call. from the previous deputy administrator, mr. holinsky. when they were talking about ethics and accountability. and he said to take action and let them file a lawsuit. i've got 300 attorneys and i'll tie them up forever in court. that's the mentality these people have.
they feel they're bankrolled by the federal government to make these decisions. they don't care if you're going to file an eeo. they don't care if you contact the oig. it's difficult to get them to accept the complaint. there needs to be legitimacy with this. that's why these types of moves are absent. >> in my case, when they ended my probationary, the argument was made they had no proof. they said, don't worry about it. let them file a complaint. we'll outlast them. >> i certainly hope -- mr. chairman, i very much appreciate your indulgence. because certainly as i said our committee moved unanimously and the house moved unanimously on this. of course the nuances are quite different. this is where the agency itself with this detailed explanation, if you really hold people accountable, you know, let's put it in writing. of why the employee must be reassigned. i particularly like the part -- well, the options are. instead of uprooting are, let's see what the options are. let's say, mr. brainard, i particularly appreciated your
explanation because you seem to understand there are some reasons for these policies and that what we're here discussing are not the reasons that are used across the government but the abuse of these policies in tsa in particular. i thank you very much for your testimony. >> thank the gentle lady. i want to conclude and thank all the members for their participation. particularly grateful for you all coming forward. as i said earlier i think you confirmed some of the worst suspicions of what we have heard was going on, and it takes some brave people to come forward, especially from an agency that is renowned for retaliation, has grown renowned for gagging its employees, and those who step forward and have reported some of the problems are paying some pretty high penalties. it's abusive to you.
it's abusive to the system. i -- i was one of the people who created tsa way back after 9/11 as the chair of aviation subcommittee. the president wanted it on his desk by thanksgiving and we did that. we tried to structure something that would replace what we had. first of all, i think there should be a federal responsibility, and all of you agree to that. we changed from having the airlines and the private sector just do -- well, there weren't federal guidelines in place and they failed to put them in place. so i think that's important. i've never said do away with it. i said change the rule. the most shocking testimony or thing i heard today was there's the abuses and what they have done to you all is uncalled for. horrible. but one of you -- was it mr.
livingston talked about the intel and analysis capability? see, that really scares me. that most -- the most important responsibility of that agency is to connect the dots. the intel and the analysis is all that's going to save us. in my opinion. i will probably call -- i'm going to ask the administrator to take action to revamp that activity. that is the most important government responsibility. the intelligence gathering, the information, all of the stuff we need to keep people from doing damage to us. when you come and testify to me and you're familiar with it, that that's one of our weak spots, is that correct again, mr. livingston? >> yes, sir. >> that to me is absolutely scary. i helped put this system together. i tried to help tsa when it failed.
i mean, we did everything from washington. that was a disaster. we have tried to -- we have tried to localize some of the hiring and other activities. the problem is it's so big they can't think out of the box and you have people who you identified today in control. you're going to have the administrator. but you've got other people in control who are revengeful, who have taken actions that are just unacceptable. i can see replacing -- if there's a vacancy and you have to move somebody to fill that vacancy, we have to secure that important fsd position, so be it. and if there's compensation needed to move that person. but what you've described is just an abuse of authority today, and then the cost is --
you said 197,000 on one of them. it's just unbelievable. so the intel bothers me. i'll be writing neffenger, he's coming in. we have got to get that piece of the puzzle there. i don't care who you put there private screeners, public screeners, whatever it is. things will get through, okay? the system is human beings. but when you fail -- well, if we spent some of that money in looking at people who pose a risk whether they -- even screening people who are working behind the scenes. we had a hearing on that. there are hundreds of people, they don't -- they don't have a passport number. they don't have social security numbers for folks. not all tsa folks but even with tsa they haven't screened some of those people. the miami and orlando and there's one more airport where they're screening the workers.
that's a waste of money. that's not the way you do it. they check them. and they can go through as you know. and once they're into the secure -- they have hammers, they have knives, they have all kinds of things that are not allowed and they have chemicals and everything else. plus they have access to the aircraft which could -- they could do a lot of damage to. so we waste money. that's congressionally imposed, some of that, where it could be better spent. would you agree with that? >> yes, sir. >> yes, sir. >> absolutely. >> let me just say one thing too. i'm glad that some of the union folks came. i'm a republican. when i wrote the bill, i made certain that the tsa tsos had the ability to belong to a union. i strongly believe in that right of every american worker. i don't think anyone should be
forced to join a union on the other hand. but we put that in the provision. the five -- of the five private screening under federal operations we set up. san francisco was private, has been union from the beginning, long before you guys -- the rest of the crowd got that. so it's not a question of union representation and i don't think people should fear public versus private. even the tsa folks. i know some of them fear that, but it involve some competition. i heard you all speak to that and mr. lynch isn't here, but again, we need to protect that right. we exempted them from title v. some can get fired because that's the way we set it up. it sounds like some of the wrong people are getting removed and the money is going to the wrong folks. in the private screening they have actually increased some of the compensations for the tso to
retain better people and be more flexibility in scheduling and things like that that can be adapted. that's one reason i favored that model under federal supervision. what you described today is very scary. i cited all the history of what's been going on with the delays. but for you to come here, you said mr. rhoades, mr. livingston, mr. brainard, there was no plan "b" and this we expect a meltdown this summer. is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> yeah. >> yes, sir. >> yes, sir. >> mr. rhoades? >> if i can say something with that -- >> go ahead. >> you know, federal security directors are working with their staff, are working with the airport, are working with the airlines. we have faced tougher challenges in our history standing up as you well know as one of the founders of our agency. i'm confident we'll be able to find workable solutions as long as we keep partnerships with our stakeholders. >> you have a lot of good
workers out there who should be rewarded. we need a better way of rewarding and retaining the good tso workers. get rid of some of the bureaucrats at the top who are causing most of the problems and they -- i guess over the years they have felt threatened. particularly by me because i keep saying, my goodness, we have a huge bureaucracy. many of them just a few miles from here. and they -- they're very domineering over the bureaucracy and anyone who gets in their way. i dealt with them in privatizing one of my airports. it was -- i always left that option open. one of my local airports requested to opt out, and then they came down and he told me he'd never been so intimidated. so threatened. it took two years to just get us to get consideration of the opt out.
then i had to change the law to where they must accept the application rather than when we set it up. it was left permissive with the language shell. so that's the reason that we got into that situation. but then it took two years more while they thwarted our congress's intent. and again, we have 450 airports. we need different models. alaska is different from wyoming is different from jfk, et cetera. and the flexibility to do that with the right balance of public/private operations and full -- but i would never take the federal government out. and again, the people -- there are a lot of junior members here. nobody understands the significance of what you confirm today on this intel and analysis situation. because that is the only thing i
think that will save us. maybe you have a different opinion. >> sir, i want to go on the record saying while you don't have intel leadership you do have some top quality intel professionals working in that office. >> yes. >> the advanced analytic part that i brought in is still functioning very effectively. and i think mr. neffenger is going to tell you he's getting some great intel support from them. but with the right leadership it's going to function even better. >> well, i put the resources there. the bdos have been -- we have suggested it as it worked out well, as you know. then again -- the other thing too is you have these lines that extend out from the airports. we saw what happened in brussels. it was an attack on the american airlines and the passengers. their intent was to kill as many as they can. you cited the attack in los angeles. so they're looking for the easiest targets. tsa provides a layer of protection once they get past
that. then we've got secure cockpit doors. we've got air marshals. we've got pilots who are armed. the biggest thing we have and they have always come to the rescue since that hour of 9/11 when the passengers on flight 93 found out what was going on. the passengers will beat the living hell out of anyone who poses a true risk. so -- they have saved the day. and also the airline staff, i have to give them credit. they have been there too. so again, my concern, we built this huge bureaucracy. we have these bureaucrats in charge. they have their revengeful way of controlling the agency which it shouldn't be. so i'm glad to hear the confidence everyone has in neffenger.
i'm not happy to hear there's no plan "b." that is essential. we've got to make certain -- i mean, we cast a lot of responsibility for the ffds in making it work and they're going to catch holy heck when those lines continue to back up. but some common sense things. the precheck, advancing that. i have gone to national. i will say it's improved because i have thrown a couple of fits. there's more people in precheck than there are on the other lines, and nobody moves them to accommodate people. i saw the dogs the other day. they're using the dogs on people in line to get into tsa. i think we need to move a few dogs to the front doorway like the israelis do. they're checking people as they come in before they can get to the line to take out the people like they did in brussels. just some suggestions again that -- the common sense that i hope
you all can take back. i know you have tried to make positive suggestions and been -- and also i don't think any of you did it to be mean or vengeful to anybody above but you have the best interest of the public and those who work for us. so not as many questions as comments. very helpful hearing. we'll have the administrator in in a couple of weeks here. any last remarks? >> one of the things we talked about and i guess this committee has certainly some level of influence. when you talk about our workforce and the wonderful people that come to work every day, if i can pose it like this. imagine if every year you had to run for re-election. i mean, you -- >> i do it every two. >> well, imagine doing it every year. >> my contract expires every 24 months.
>> well, with our people it expires every year and they have to recertify for their job. and i would hope that at least in looking forward one of the things we could certainly do better with our people is find another option. our people get incredibly stressed out every year. they do a very stressful job as it is. they do it very well. what you don't hear about in the media a lot of times are the success stories that do happen every day. the amount of dangerous items they are preventing to get on the aircraft. and i know that our people in some cases could certainly find other opportunities. we're very grateful to have the wonderful team that we do. but if there's a way to take that stress off our workforce we'd appreciate it. >> well, again, it starts from up here. and you all -- the fsds work at certain constraints from what -- it flows downhill. as the saying goes. mr. livingston? >> sir, we have brought up some very serious issues here today. some were new.
some were reported back in the original summary that went to you in october of 2009. if we can agree some need to be addressed now, this is a prime opportunity to advance the operational success of tsa. none of the things said today here were personal or -- >> no. no. you're speaking in the betterment of tsa. >> and the last two points, sir, is if we could take a look at how the erc, or the executive resource council, appoints these sess at tsa, that might be a way for you to exert your most control over tsa because that's where the pay, the assignments, the selections, reassignment. that's the nucleus for everything. i'm just not sure that it isn't effective in the best interest. because i have heard you speak
several times, both here and on the committees and the administrator and several things you have said over and over, but i haven't seen the actual actions that you have -- >> you can't imagine my frustration. and sometimes they have ignored me. they have tried to do everything they can to divert -- >> yes, sir. but i think if you exerted control -- >> well, i think you -- again, you saw sort of the bipartisan support. again, i have never since we created the tsa never seen anyone come forward. most people have been afraid to come forward. i remember we offered some people -- they even put bags over their heads. like we have done in the past with some witnesses, to come in and testify. but you all are very brave. you have stood up to it and i think you'd do it again because you're trying not to be mean towards anyone or vindictive towards anyone, but to better the operations which you see. mr. rhoades, you wanted to conclude? >> yes, sir. i want to thank you for the opportunity to speak before the committee.
it's very important to me. i hope i have communicated issues along with resolutions after reflective thought and i'm very humbled to be asked here. i appreciate the opportunity to be heard. if there's one thing that i wish the committee would have oversight on is the directive reassignments policy. it is absolutely abysmal. and this is not personal. it's professional to me. as a parting suggestion, i would do an audit of all the tsa programs, awards, hiring, external to tsa because you cannot fix a problem unless you diagnose it correctly. and the tsa has a history and has certainly demonstrated that the responsiveness at times has not been there. however embarrassing it is. but in order for us to get healthier we have to diagnose the problem and we have to take
our medicine. thank you very much, sir. >> i appreciate it again, all three of you stepping forward. i think, again, this can be a constructive hearing and hopefully constructive path forward that you all have helped lay out. so there being no further business before the committee this meeting is adjourned.
on american history tv on c-span 3. >> therefore, this committee has undertaken such an investigation. its purpose is not to impair the fbi's legitimate law enforcement and counterespionage functions but rather to evaluate domestic intelligence according to the standards of the constitution and the statutes of our land. >> over 40 years ago a senate select committee chaired by senator frank church, democrat from idaho, was convened to investigate the intelligence activities of the cia, fbi, irs, and the nsa. and this weekend marks the 40th
anniversary of the church committee's final report. and over the next five weeks we'll look at portions of the 1975 televised hearings. saturday night at 10:00 eastern the commissioner questioning cia director william coley about illegally stored biological weapons. >> i cannot explain why that quantity was developed except that this was a collaboration that we were engaged in with the united states army and we did develop this particular weapon, you might say, as a possible -- for possible use. >> and on "the civil war" at 6:00. >> in 1860 the united states was 70 years old. it was not old enough to have wisdom. the lee family at that time had been living in virginia 225 years. i do not think lee anguished at all over the decision he made that april evening. and i think that devotion to duty came forth in 1861. his primary duty was to his family. his family had been virginians
for over two centuries. the old dominion was lee's birthright. >> historian james bud robinson talks about general robert e. lee, his ties to virginia and his various military campaigns throughout the state. and then sunday morning at 10:00 on "road to the white house rewind," the film "a private decision" chronicles the 1968 presidential race. from the first primaries in new hampshire and president johnson's surprise withdrawal through the assassination of robert f. kennedy and richard nixon's victory over hubert humphrey in the general election. and at 8:00 on "the presidency" -- >> he was one as a result of that because i think one's ability in foreign policy and as a head of state of the united states as the head of the -- chief of the armed forces of the leading power in the world and very much the leading power in the free world, is to think responsibly about what one can achieve and to try and define one's policies and to try and understand geopolitics in that light. >> military historian jeremy black looks at the origins