tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN May 14, 2016 4:00am-6:01am EDT
we welcome you both. pursuant to committee rules, all witnesses are to be sworn before they testify. you've each testified here previously, but if you would please rise and raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? thank you. let the record reflect that the witnesses each answered in the affirmative. as you know, we like to limit oral testimony to five minutes but of course your entire written statement will be entered into the record. mr. neffenger, administrator neffenger, you're now recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. good morning, chairman chaffetz, ranking member cummings, and distinguished members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. i sincerely appreciate the committee's oversight of the management practices at tsa. this issue has been of great concern to me as well. i commit to you and the american people that under my leadership tsa has established high standards of performance and accountability. i also want to thank inspector
general roth for his support. i greatly value the oversight that his office provides to improve our agency and i have been working closely with him during my tenure. my leadership perspective is shaped by more than three decades of national service in crisis leadership. throughout my career i have emphasized professional integrity and duty to mission as foundational elements of service for myself and for the dedicated civil servants and military members i have been entrusted to lead. since taking the oath of office on july 4th of last year i have traveled throughout the country and throughout the world to meet with employees at all levels of our agency. i've been impressed by their patriotism and their sense of duty. these are servants who every day perform demanding tasks under difficult circumstances, and i deeply respect and appreciate their work. they have risen to the challenge of service to a mission and have taken an oath of office and loyalty as a condition of employment. their success requires the utmost professionalism from all of our employees from front line
officers to the most senior leaders. my overarching priority is to fulfill the core mission of tsa to secure the nation's transportation systems. in just ten months we have undertaken a range of transformational efforts. i immediately prioritized our counterterrorism mission. i set a renewed foekts on security, revised alarm resolution procedures, made investments in new technology, and retrained the entire workforce. we are holding ourselves accountable to high standards of performances and supporting our front line officers in their critical counterterrorism mission. we have reinvigorated our partnerships with the airlines, airport operators and the trade and travel industries and are working closely with congress to address our security mission. we simultaneously undertook a broad evolution of the entire tsa enterprise with respect to that mission and our people. i am systematically and deliberately leading this transformation and i have made it clear we are focused on our security mission. most importantly, i'm investing in our people.
with congress's help i directed a complete overhaul of our approach to how we train our workforce at all levels of the agency. we established the first ever tsa academy on january 1st of this year. this intensive training will enable us to achieve consistency, develop a common culture, instill core values, and raise performance across the entire workforce. establishing a culture of mutual respect and trust between leaders in the workforce instills confidence and pride and is a prudent investment in the future of the agency. i also ordered a review of all personnel policies and practices. this led to a number of significant changes. among which are the elimination of the arbitrary use of directed reassignments, restrictions on permanent change of station relocation costs and significant controls on bonuses at all levels. we are overhauling management practices. i've conducted an independent review of the acquisition programs. we're building a planning, programming, and budget execution process. and we're building a human capital management system to
address recruitment, development, promotion, assignment, and retention. to ensure the effective reintegration of our leadership team i have brought in new leaders from outside the agency. a new deputy administrator, new chief of staff, a chief of operations, a new head of intelligence, and other key positions. and with respect to the intelligence i want to note that our intelligence office just received a very prestigious award from the national countar terrorism center for the work they have done to analyze recent attacks on the aviation system. i assure this committee that under my leadership tsa treats its employees fairly and affords them every legal and available means to exercise their due process rights. we review management controls regularly, revise them when needed and fully investigate and adjudicate misconduct at every level. and i hold those who violate standards appropriately accountable. with respect to leadership my experience tells me that good leaders set high standards and inspire people to perform at their best. i have demanded much of my leaders over the past ten
months. i have set high standards for them. i expect them to work hard. and i supervise them closely. finally, we must deliver a highly effective intelligence-driven security capability every day. to do so we must have fully trained, highly motivated professional employees supported by a mature and efficient agency with a common set of values. my guiding principles which i expressed in my administrator's intent are focused on mission, invest in people, and commit to excellence. we are pursuing these objectives every day. as administrator i will continue to do so until we achieve and sustain success in every aspect of this agency, in every mission, in every office and location where we operate and with every single employee. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today and for the committee's support of tsa's mission. i look forward to your questions. >> i thank the administrator. we will now recognize inspector general roth for his testimony. you are now recognized for five minutes. >> chairman chaffetz, ranking
member cummings and members of the committee thank you for inviting me here to testify this morning. one year ago i testified before this committee at a hearing on tsa's programs and operations. during that hearing i testified that we remain deeply ker7bd about tsa's ability to execute its important mission. i noted that ts. had challenges in almost every area of its operations. at the time i testified that tsa's reluctance to correct security vulnerabilities that our audits uncovered reflected tsa's failure to understand the gravity of the situation. six months ago i testified before this committee and stated that i believe the new administrator had begun the process of critical self-evaluation and 5ided by the dedicated work foshs of tsa was in a position to begin addressing some of these issues. i predicted that the new administrator's most critical and challenging task would be to create a culture of change by giving the workforce the ability to identify and address risks without fear of retribution.
today i still believe that to be true. however, we should not minimize the significance of the challenges tsa faces and the grave risks that failure brings. the task is difficult and will take time. in the meantime my office will continue to conduct audits, inspections and investigations and bring an independent look and professional skepticism to our reviews as we are required to do. in light of part 1 of the committee's hearing i would like to discuss our office's work in investigating misconduct within the tsa workforce. as you know, we are organizationally independent from both dhs and tsa and as such have a crucial role in ensuring that crimes and serious misconduct will be investigated by an independent fact finder. the department employs more than 240,000 employees and an equal number of contractors. we have fewer than 200 investigators on board and available to conduct investigation. so this amounts to approximately 2,000 employees for every oig
investigator. in fiscal year 2015 we received almost 18,000 complaints. about 350 complaints per week. a substantial number of those complaints allege that dhs personnel engaged in misconduct. last year we initiated 664 cases and our investigations resulted in 104 criminal convictions and 37 adverse personal actions. some of these investigations involve tsa personnel. in the last fiscal year we received about 1,000 complaints either from or about tsa employees. we typically accept for investigation only about 40 of those cases per year. our criteria for case selection involves an assessment of the seriousness of the allegation, the rank or grade of the individual involved and whether oig's uniquely independent role is necessary to ensure that the case is handled appropriately. we value the contributions that whistleblowers make in identifying fraud, waste, and abuse. federal law provides protections for employees who disclose wrongdoing.
specifically the agency may not retaliate against employees by taking or threatening to take adverse personnel action because they report misconduct. the i.g. act also gives me the absolute right to protect the identity of our witnesses, upon whom we demand to expose fraud, waste. and abuse. in tsa, for example, we investigated a whilstblower's allegation that a notorious felon was granted ex-pooitded screening through precheck. the traveler was a former member of a domestic brup and while a member was involved in numerous felonious criminal activities that led to arrest and conviction. after serving a multiple-year sentence the traveler was released from prison. the tsa officer gave us the tip because the officer recognized the traveler from news coverage. we investigated it and found that the officer was correct. because of tsa's policies at the time this traveler was given expedited screening. we were able to write up a report and give recommendations
to both congress and this committee. thanks in part to this whistleblower's xhant we were able to illustrate the dangers of this policy and tsas ha since rethought the issue of managed conclusion. i would also note that the chairman's description of the bonuses mr. hogan received and our investigation of it was as a result of an alert dhs employee who notified us of that situation. when i arrived at oig about two years ago i was concerned about how we had been managing our whistleblower protection program. my goal is to make sure we have a whistleblower program that is good or better than any in the federal government. to that end we have instituted a number of changes in the last six months to enshire that whistle blowers who have claims of retaliation are listened to and their claims are fairly and independently investigated. mr. chairman, this concludes my testimony. i welcome any questions you and members of the committee may have. >> we thank you. now we recognize mr. mica of florida for five minutes. >> i'm sure, administrator, you
heard or watched the proceedings when we had three tsa officers in here. as i said in my opening remarks, one of my major areas of concerns this year, intelligence and analyst office in that capability, i'd never heard more damaging testimony than i heard under oath from -- on that matter. we have detailed information we've acquired about some of the personnel that are there. and obviously the qualifications and the background are lacking. what do you want to say to this? >> congressman mica, thank you for the question. i had questions about the personnel when i first came in.
>> are you currently reviewing the qualifications and the allegations -- >> i have a new chief of intelligence that i brought in who is an intelligent professional. he's here. i can report ---ed. >> i think i would like an outline to the committee -- i mean, the screening function is fine and you may find some knives and some guns. they're not going to take down an aircraft. but intelligence is government responsibility. we don't have good intelligence and again, i cited an older gao report where known terrorists are going through the system. this was a risk-based system. so can you provide us with an outline of what you intended to correct the situation? >> yes, sir. and i'll also provide you with an example of how we have built an intelligence enterprise which i think is one of the best in the country. i can say that. it's been recognized recently by the national counterterrorism center with one of their prestigious awards with analysis they've done.
>> again. it's just most troubling. the other thing tsa has been giving this line, i've seen it in the press, that it's a lack of funds that right now create some of the problems and the lines. that's been put out by tsa, hasn't it? >> no, sir. i have not said that it's a lack of funds. >> well, i've seen it from tsa. it's actually staffing. last night like at reagan at 7:00 they closed some of the lines. tsa cannot staff to traffic. i mean, we have -- i've seen it all over. i had an anecdotal report last week of a member that told me that at one airport they were backed up, lines forever, the other side of the airport there was a concourse and there were not thousands standing around but everybody standing around and someone can't shift them. and in the lane that the individual was -- the lanes that
the individual was leaving two were closed. i've been at national airport. i've seen the same thing. people can't make a decision to staff to traffic. the other thing, too, is we've got to look at the money that you're spending. the last account i had we're spending $1.1 billion on administration and 1.9 billion on screening. that's a lot of administration. we need to pare those numbers down. the bonuses that the chairman said, $80,000. i asked the staff, how much can we pay screeners? you're losing 30% of the screeners and 38% of the non-tso employees leave their jobs within one year. you could be training these people and like the chairman said you've got a boat, you know, with with a leak in it, it's going to sink. but again, how much is -- let me
ask this question. how much is the bonus you can give to a screener? i'm told $300 a year. >> no. it can be higher than that. i don't have the exact number for you. >> can someone tell us the exact amount? >> yes. >> but i'm told it's about $300 a year. that guy got -- we'll knock off the one month, sir. he got $80,000 in bonuses. and i've got people that are doing the work. not sitting in an office. and i want a full accounting of all the people working in the washington area. at one time there were 4,000 people within like ten miles of here working for tsa making an average of 103,000. i'd like that figure into the record. can you provide us with that? >> yes, sir. we'll provide that. >> and finally, i'm not a management analyst but these folks testified too that you went from a risk-based system to the system we see out there with these long lines and everything.
we've got the summer coming. they said if you think what is, it the day after thanksgiving was bad, we're going to see that every day. what is plan b? we've gone from a risk-based system now to shaking and thoroughly examining everyone and no plan b. can you tell us about plan b? >> we're still a risk-based system. we still have tsa precheck. we are growing that population. we're doubling -- we've doubled the enrollment of that population over last year. and the risk-based approach is the more people i get into trusted traveler programs the more i can move them through expedited and the more we can focus on those who aren't. we discontinued the praf arbitrarily assigning and randomly assigning people from an unknown population into that expedited population. that was called managed exclusion. that pushed a lot of people back into the standard screening lanes. we have a significantly larger
population of travelers this year than we had previously and it's grown substantially. it grew faster, at a higher rate than was predicted by those who set the predictions for our budgets which have been built as you know in the past. when i came into this organization last year i found an organization with 5,800 fewer screeners than it had it -- and front line officers than it had four years previously. that was in the face of significantly higher traffic volume. one of the first things i asked congress to do was to halt any further reductions to the workforce because it was my suspicion that we did not have enough people to staff our lanes. my suspicion was correct. we do not have people currently to staff our lanes. and eph bewe have been sichlt economy systematically -- >> i respectfully disagree and yield back. >> ms. maloney for five minutes. >> i thank the chairman for calling this hearing, and nothing is more important than
securing the lives of the american people. and i want to thank admiral neffenger and i.g. roth for your work to really make the tsa security system more effective. i would like to remind my colleagues that tsa was built not for speed or created by government but to protect our citizens. almost 3,000 people just in new york city alone were murdered on 9/11 merely because they woke up and did what each one of us are doing today in this room. they went to work, sat at their desks, and they were murdered. not on a military site but at their work site. and this happened at other sites around the country. and if you remember, i would go to the airport just to see what was going on. it was closed down. no one would fly.
our commerce was crumbling. our air system was totally dead. everything was dead. until government came in and started putting security measures in place to protect the american people. 500 of my constituents died on 9/11, and hundreds of friends and acquaintances of mine merely because they were americans going to work. this is horrifying and we know that our airlines continue to be a terrorist target. we know. i talked to the pilots. they tell me they continue to test the system all the time to see if there are weaknesses. and they find it often after they leave the plane and see where they were meddling. i want to thank both of you for your focus on security. i would also like to remind my colleagues that when we created tsa it was hotly debated for months. there was a division between
both sides of the aisle. some thought if should be privatized. others thought the government should have this responsibility since our main responsibility is to protect our citizens. if our police and our fire are maintained and supported by the government, surely the tsa that plays a vital role of making sure that an american doesn't get on a plane that is going to blow up should have the same type of support from the federal government. so i want to thank mr. neffenger for your statements, before this committee, where you -- and i'm going to quote you, i thought it was such a good line, you said you were re-adjusting the measurements of success to focus on security rather than speed. and i will say to you, i don't see tsa pandering to any
passengers. i get stopped all the time. sometimes i say why am i being stopped? they said it is a random number, you're that random number. sometimes the bells go off. like every other american, i have not seen anyone protest the fact that they were stopped. they realize that they're there to help make it more secure for us. and i study the lines like all of us, i travel every week, back and forth, and we have long lines. tsa has really helped. the precheck. sometimes the precheck line is longer than the other lines. the precheck line is really growing as you said. but i study my fellow residents, and i don't see them angry. if they lose their flight, miss their flight, they should have been there earlier. we're all supposed to be there an hour earlier. we rarely are there an hour earlier. and they're not upset, they realize that they're stopping people to make sure they don't get killed when they get on that plane. so i for one just want to support the oversight strength
of our nation, the ig's office came out, saying it wasn't strong enough for security. the admiral has responded. he has ten points he's implementing. and i just want to ask admiral neffenger, what adjustments have you made to ensure that screeners are assessed on the security results that they achieve? and i want to reiterate, i have never, never, since 9/11, it's been 15 years, i have never seen a resident or foreigner, whoever is in that line, object that they are being stopped or that someone else is being stopped and because of their feeling that there's an emergency they may miss their plane. the one complaint i hear is is it secure enough? what's the oversight? every now and then someone gets on a plane with a knife or weapon and gets all over the papers and people start calling my office, how did this happen?
if people don't believe their planes are secure, they're not going to fly. commerce is going to hurt. the country hurts. and the fear is a terrible and undermining the american spirit to get things done. i want to know how are you -- what are you doing to improve security? if you need more people, let us know, and give us a report on how you can keep the security at the top level, but you may have to have more people. i just know in new york it is a busy place, but oftentimes there are only one or two lanes open because they don't have the people to staff the other lanes. but no one is complaining about a pressure on security. you know, i want to thank you for the job you do. if anything, it should be tougher in my opinion. >> gentlewoman's time expired but the gentleman may anser. >> i'll provide a fuller comment for the committee's record, but let me highlight a few points we're doing. as you know, following the
results of the i.g.'s tests last year, the first thing we did was a true root cause analysis, what actually happened. what i found was systemic problems from in agency focus, in agency training and the way in which we deployed our equipment. first thing we did, we did a retraining of the entire workforce. that took two months. rolling stand-down, eight hours at a time, every single employee, including myself, i made all my senior leaders go through it as well. we called that mission essentials, we have followed up with a quarterly version of mission essentials and we now focus on various aspects of the checkpoint. we have dramatically increased our covert testing, internal covert testing, and we do immediate feedback into that. we provide -- i work from -- as i say, i work from the positive side of the equation, we provide rewards for those people who perform well, and then we turn those people into trainers for the next round of folks. we do immediate feedback and that consistently. i get daily measures of performance.
workforce readiness, workforce performance, and workforce accountability. we changed that. it is no longer based upon how long the lines are that you're working -- that's a separate issue, and we deal with that at the management level. but from the front line workforce, i want them to know that i want them to focus on the mission, i will support them in doing so and will provide them the best possible training. we also train them on the equipment, how it operates, and we gave them hands on understanding of what the limitations were. there is a more fuller answer for you, which i'll provide, thank you. >> thank you. >> i'll now recognize gentleman from tennessee, mr. duncan, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. admiral neffenger, can you tell me how many tsa employees make 100,000 or more a year? >> i'll have to get that number for you for the record, sir. i don't know it off the top of my -- >> can you make a rough guess? >> i can make a rough guess, maybe -- i don't really know, sir. i'll have to get that for the record. >> let me ask you this, do you
know how many tsa employees got bonuses in the past year? >> there were -- as i said, i restricted the number of bonuses that we do. i'll get you the exact number, it was a significantly smaller number and it was based upon performance, wasn't based upon special act awards. >> can you tell me, have you -- have you personally fired any employee -- tsa employees for misconduct or rudeness or incompetence since you've been in office? >> there have been a number of people who have been fired from the agency at all levels over the past year. i came in, and one of my first -- one of my first tasks was to determine what my agency looked like. i hold my leaders to high standards and i have demanded a lot of them. i have been -- i'm confident in my current leadership team. i'm certainly confident in the people i brought in to help lead that team. and to date i've been -- i've been satisfied with their performance, though we have a long way to go.
>> when you heard mr. mica say you're spending almost as much on administration as on actual screening, what is your response to that? do you think that's -- is that accurate? >> well, i agree that any leader needs to look hard at the way in which its resources are being spent. i have done so. as i mentioned, i've done a systematic review of our entire agency and the management practices of this agency. we have taken a hard look at the budget and in fact i moved a lot of resources around and i've been working with my -- the appropriators and other -- my oversight committees to ensure they understand where those savings can be found. i think there is more savings to be found in my budget. some of that administrative oversight is required to manage the contracts that tsa has, but i think there is always room for examination of that. and i intend to do so. >> were you surprised when inspector general mentioned the 18,000 complaints and 104 criminal convictions?
>> i think that was across the dhs enterprise, not all tsa. we're a subset of that number. i'm always dismayed by misconduct in an agency. we're a very large agency of about 60,000 people. it doesn't surprise me that we occasionally have people who don't act well. i'm concerned about the -- its effect on -- mostly concerned about how you deal with it when you discover it. i've committed to the inspector general will work very closely with him on understanding what the nature of those allegations and misconduct are. >> i've served on the aviation subcommittee since i've been in congress and chaired it for six years and i can tell you that you have more -- well over twice as many screeners now as when it was privatized and yet there are more complaints and longer lines now than when it was privatized. do you have any explanation of that? >> i think there is a couple of factors there. one, there are significantly
more people moving through this, ravelers now than -- >> not that, not that many more percentagewise. >> yes, sir, actually -- >> there has been an increase, i can tell you there has been a big increase, but not a 2 1/2 times increase over when it was privatized, i can assure you of that. >> we'll get you the exact number, i think you would be surprised at how much more volume we're seeing and there is a lot more to worry about at a heckpoint than we had before. a lot more threats to the system. this is one of the most dynamic threat environments i've ever seen. so the nature of passenger screening is much more complex than it was 15 years ago prior to 9/11. >> have you review ed the testimony of the witnesses we had a few days ago, in particular the testimony by the one administrator that you spent $12 million on a restaffing of a floor that should have cost $3 million at the most? >> i have reviewed the testimony. and as i mentioned, i put significant controls over expenditures, over costs associated with those
expenditures at all levels of the organization. >> now, also i heard that there were just about as many contractors as numbers of employees. and yet i have read and heard that many small businesses feel they're having trouble getting meetings set up or getting phone calls returned. do you have or would you be willing to set up a small business ombudsman or small business outreach office to help so many departments and agencies when they become so big just the big giants are well connected enough to get meetings and get phone calls returned. and i'm wondering if you're doing something about that. >> yes, sir, thank you for that question. i have good news to report on that front. that's one of my concerns too coming in. my time in the coast guard, i spent a fair amount of time on the acquisition side of the house and we had great concerns about small business participation, it is a particular interest of mine. we do have a small business outreach office and what'm
pleased to report is that we met our small business participation targets last year for first time ever. and we continue to do so. i don't think there is enough competition in the current marketplace and i think there is a great deal of entrepreneurial and creative ideas in the small business world. >> thank you very much. >> i thank the gentleman. i'll recognize the gentlewoman from illinois, miss kelly, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. administrator neffenger, you talked about the idea that more people are traveling. and that tsa needs more workers. i wanted to concentrate a little bit more on precheck. how many passengers are currently enrolled in precheck? >> we're currently at about 2.4 million people enrolled in precheck. >> and how -- what number do you think that can grow to? >> well, we have done a lot of work with the u.s. travel
association and other associations connected with the airline industry. and we think we can get the number to 25 million by calendar year 19. >> and what are you doing to encourage passengers to join? >> well, we have done a lot more to advertise the program. you need to continually advertise something for people to be aware of it. and i think in my opinion, failure to do so over the past few years consistently has reduced its -- the awareness of people for it. so there is two factors. one, you have to advertise and it has to be available and you have to have places where people can sign up for it. those were the two areas i think that we needed to do a lot of work on. we have been working very closely with u.s. travel association, individual airlines, the airline associations and airport associations to increase their advertising. pleased to report that all of the major airlines are doing their own versions of advertising. some of the major airlines offered the opportunity to
exchange miles for precheck. we have gone out to a number -- to the u.s. chamber of commerce and to a number of the large corporations, microsoft corporation, vice precheck for all of its travelers, frequent travelers. those kinds of things are helping considerably. our enrollment right now is running about 165,000 per month. which is more than double what we saw this time last year. we think it needs to get a little higher. but between that and the other trusted traveler programs of the government, such as global entry and nexus and century, we believe in the associations agree with us that we think we can get this up to 25 million, which would dramatically change the way we can operate the system by calendar year 19. >> i typically fly in and out of o'hare or sometimes midway. and what my colleagues said about sometime the precheck lines actually are longer than the regular lines, but the other thing is all of the carry-n luggage, because of what the airlines charge, people are carrying more and more luggage
on and stuffing more and more things in the luggage and according to the new york times, the big four airlines, american, southwest, delta, united, made $22 billion in profit from their charges. and i wanted to know, that's one of the sources of growing profits in the airline. and what portion of that goes from the airlines goes toward paying any airport security? do they contribute in any way? >> i think currently the airlines do not make a direct contribution to airline security. there is a passenger security fee that is charged on every ticket. it's capped on a round trip. we are seeing more baggage come through the checkpoint. i will say that the airlines now are being very diligent about enforcing the one plus one rule. that's helped considerably. we're also experimenting in a number of the large airports with what we call travel light lane that has travellers who
have a simple carry on, brief case or purse or something, the opportunity to have a dedicated lane which allows us to move significantly more people through. it is the carry on baggage that is one of the major slowdown points in a checkpoint. >> i wonder if we should do more calling on the airlines to help address the consequences of their business decisions on the tsa screening process because the more they charge, the less people are going to check their bags. i think american is $35 for a piece of luggage. what do you think about that? >> well, it's a decision of the airlines to make those fees. i can talk about the impact of people carrying a lot of baggage through the checkpoint. i will say i think the airlines
are aware of this. i had a number of conversations with the ceos of each of the major airlines. i understand why they made that business decision. i tell them what the impact can be upon us and they committed to working with us to ensure that they find ways to reduce that stress at the checkpoint. >> and it's something they should look at because if everyone carries luggage on, that slows everybody getting on the airplane and the on-time record and on and on and on. i yield back. >> i'll now recognize the gentleman from arizona, mr. gozar. >> thank you, chairman. mr. neffenger, tsa employees report that directed reassignments have been used improperly to force out disfavored employees. do you believe this is an ongoing practice at tsa? >> i discontinued that practice explicitly and in fact put strong controls on it. i will say that i think an agency, an operating agency needs the ability to move people periodically to places where their skills are needed or for
ex-igent circumstances. but you need strong controls over that. and it needs to be done in an open and transparent way and needs to be done in a way that is not used for retribution or punitive measures. >> i'm glad you went that way, because i would like to illustrate mr. brainerd who testified before this committee that he was issued a directed reassignment from iowa to maine in 2014 with no apparent need or justification even though they -- the move caused him significant financial hardship. his placement and the person he was replacing were issued similar reassignments. in your opinion, was this an appropriate use of directed assignment and if so, what is your justification? >> in my opinion it was not an appropriate use of directed reassignments, and that's why i changed the policy. >> so now mr. brainerd has also testified he had an excellent performance evaluation. he was reassigned to a smaller and less complex airport. the person he replaced did not want to leave and the person reassigned to replace him reassigned because accepting the reassignment would cause him hardship. can you explain the decision to move forward with this reassignment? >> again, that happened before i
arrived -- >> it may have happened before but you're responsible, are you not, sir? >> i'm responsible now. and as i said before, i am not conducting directed reassignments in that manner. if i have to -- in fact, i have not directedly reassigned anyone under my leadership. >> now, andrew rhodes was issued a directed reassignment in february of 2015, which was stayed by the office of special counsel due retaliation for whistle-blower activity and rescinded by the tsa. can you explain how mr. rhodes' reassignment was approved? >> i would defer to the person who made that decision. i don't allow that policy under my watch and we're supporting mr. rhodes in his complaint which stands before the office of special counsel now. >> now, part of the justification for mr. rhodes reassignment was to sever past loyalty due to suspicion he was a source for the media which he denies. do you consider this an appropriate justification?
>> again, that matter is being investigated right now by the office of special counsel. if they find that to be true, then, of course, it wasn't appropriate. >> is mr. rhodes' directed reassignment approved by the executive resources counsel? >> i believe it was brought before the executive resources counsel under its then mandate, and then recommended to senior leadership beyond that. >> have you disciplined anybody at tsa for their role in this reassignment? >> again, i'm waiting for the results of the office of special counsel investigation. depending upon what they find, it may point to appropriate discipline. >> if there is -- in many cases with law enforcement, people are put on administrative leaves. is anybody going to be put on administrative leave or anything like that? >> i have not placed anybody on administrative leave. >> do you stand by the validity of these reassignments or do you have any reason to believe they
were improper? >> with respect to the ones you're talking about, again, i'm going to -- i will await the office of special counsel's review. it is important we look at a review of that to determine whether or not there was improper use there. i'll tell you, i don't think the manner in which we were doing directed reassignments was justifiable. and even if -- even if it was appropriate, it wasn't done in a way that was open, transparent, fair and otherwise -- and otherwise controlled. which is why i changed it and we put significant controls on that process now. >> do you -- on updates on reassignments, are they periodic or are they daily basis? how are they done in your office? >> i get a report on those -- i'll tell you, i've not done any directed reassignments. so right now the update is that we aren't doing that. and i've created a process by
which someone can recommend a reassignment, someone can request a reassignment, and then it goes through a series of checks and reviews, that includes the office of human capital, the chief financial officer, the executive resources counsel and comes to the office of administrator for decision. >> thank you. i'm just running out of time. i'll yield back. thank you. >> i thank the gentlemen. now recognize the ranking member mr. cummings from maryland. >> admiral, i want to get down to the meat of what happened the other day when the whistleblowers came in. there was a theme running throughout their testimony and they were very forthright, really good people. and they came to us begging almost for fairness.
but one of the things they said was that there is some leadership folk and they said, it is not a lot of them that try to undermine the things that you are trying to bring about. and they felt very strongly that if these folks were not there, things would run a lot smoother and so i want to ask you, one of them said this -- this workforce is waiting out mr. neffenger because they think the elections are coming. other whistleblowers expressed similar concerns. administrator, have you heard this type of concern and hear you're doing a great job, but that the problem elements at tsa are just waiting you out and how
do you put in systems that go beyond this tenure. i know you're used to doing that. you did that with deepwater horizon and the coast guard, made sure we had procurement officers that were trained properly. now they're doing fine. so how do you do that here and keep in mind what they said. they weren't so much complaining about you, they were complaining about some folks under you. how do you deal with that? do you have any idea who these whistle-blowers are talking about? >> i don't know who they were directly referring to, mr. cummings. let me tell you how i -- how i approach leadership at this organization. the first thing you have to do is set very clear standards which i've done since i've been there and very clear
expectations and define a vision and mission for where you're going. it is directly related to getting our security mission done. and then i hold people accountable for reporting back to me. i sat down with each of my leaders, the people who report directly to me at headquarters and who are responsible for collectively for the performance of tsa and i looked each one of them eye to eye, and i've done it repeatedly and i do this weekly and i do this sometimes daily and i said this is what i expect of you. if you fail to perform then i will hold you accountable. and i hold them accountable by requiring them to report back to me with very specific measures of performance. i will tell you to date. and i've driven them very hard. i know that. because i know how hard i -- how hard i'm working and i know how long they're there. and if i'm there at 8:00 at night and i call somebody, they're there at 8:00 at night and then we do that until we get it done. so what i'm seeing is a leadership team that if driven and pointed in the right direction is doing what i'm asking them to do. now, how do you ensure that that stays there in the event i'm not
here after the elections? first of all, you inspire the workforce to the mission that they first took the oath of office for. you can remind people of the oath of office they took. and i remind everyone that this is a workforce that committed themselves to one of the most challenging missions in the country. and then you have to build the institutional controls. and you put them into policy and then you get that policy stamped by the department of homeland security and you turn to people like the inspector general and you turn to people like the secretary of homeland security and you asked them to review your policies and then you put controls at the department level over this. then you bring in leaders below you that are career employees that will survive you that are on the same page you are. which i've done. i have a new deputy administrator who came in from outside the agency and she has a stellar reputation in the federal government. and then you bring in -- i brought up in a chief of operations, again, a stellar operator, who is a man of superb integrity and responsible for
encouraging that going forward. i will provide for you a list of those kinds of actions we're taking, but i think the way you ensure that it survives is you don't let it be the decision of one individual anymore. which i don't. >> let me ask you this, one of the things -- i think, first of all, i think every member of this committee and i know for a fact that the chairman feels this way, and certainly -- we talked about it a lot, if there is retaliation, we have a major problem with that. and we will do everything in our power to protect whistle-blowers. i guess my question now is when i heard about this reassignment, and i know you're not doing it anymore, i mean, some of that stuff really upset me. because basically what they were doing was -- sounded like intentionally tearing up families, dividing them, and, i mean, really putting some hardship on people which was,
i mean, unbearable. they were spending, one case, spent $100,000 to do a reassignment that didn't even make sense. except to retaliate. i want to know what your position is with regard to retaliation, what you -- how you deal with that? and we want to be assured that there are people who are doing that, and i'm telling you, i think you will get -- i think i know, you'll get every member of our committee backing you up, but we want to know what your position is with regard to that, and have you found any of that so far? i mean, yourself. you may have heard some things, but go ahead. >> well, i don't tolerate that. it's illegal. it's unethical. and it -- it's in all the categories of the kind of people you don't want in the organization. the people who were doing the most of those direct reassignments are no longer with the agency. they left before my arrival.
i'm very interested in the results of the office of special counsel investigation into the existing cases with the individuals who appear before you depending upon the findings i'll take immediate action against that. it will not be tolerated. i don't tolerate it. it is why i stopped the practice. i don't know how extensive it really was because we know that people that have come forward, but i can tell you that it doesn't happen under -- i made that very clear to everyone. i also directly support the rights of individuals to come forward. that's valuable information you get from people who have the courage to step forward and tell you what they think is wrong with the organization. >> so -- i'll finish with this, mr. chairman. so you're saying that if there are people watching this at tsa who feel that they are being wrongfully retaliated against or some action taken against them that is illegal and improper, you're saying you have an open door? >> they can come directly to me,
exactly. i will then in fact turn directly to inspector general roth and ask his -- i will ask his assistance in investigating. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you. >> i now recognize the gentleman from south carolina, mr. gowdy. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i will be brief and then i will yield the remainder of my time to the gentleman from florida. mr. chairman, i think we're probably all prisoners to a certain extent to our own personal experience, so while i'm open and interested of the experiences and expectations of others, i've never had a problem. and any of the airports i've ever traveled to. i use granville spartanburg. i use charlotte. i use dca. the folks are professional. my friend from florida mentioned that there may be some members of congress and perhaps other people who consider themselves to be dignitaries who either expect or accept preferential treatment. the members of congress that i travel with don't expect it and they wouldn't accept it if it were offered to them. a member of congress has a little bit of obligation herself
or himself to say no, i'm going to stand in the line like just everybody else. i'm quite certain that your department can do better. i'm quite certain you have a plan to do better. i'm also quite certain congress can do better. us and i trust you have a plan to fix tsa and my experience with them -- you have a hard job, with zero margin for error, that's not much margin. with that, i'll yield to the gentleman from florida. >> actually i want to take a minute and compliment mr. cummings. sometimes he and i disagree, but rarely, but his line of questioning, mr. neffenger, i'm not here just to bust your chops. but his line of questioning was from the other side of the
aisle, and it -- what we heard raised great questions and it was documented by staff, the amounts of money that were used to pay to transfer people in retribution, it was -- it was -- and then the other thing too, sometimes -- i think -- i was telling the chairman, i think you're a good guy. i think you were a good guy to be sent in to clean up the mess. but sometimes the leader is fed mushrooms and kept in the dark. i'll put that as politely as we can. and mr. cummings described to you what we heard is going on that you're being fed this information by these people who are protecting their rear ends. i'm trying to put this in terms that can be transmitted on c-span, the family community. but, again, this is our concern. i help create tsa.
i'll never forget mr. mineta and i went out and we, i think it was, like, we had a goal of 20 or 30 minutes from curb to the gate. that was our -- that's when it was under the transportation committee. and we actually went out and did a thing. and it can be done. we don't have to hassle the 99% of the people. we're supposed to be looking for the ones that are getting through. and, again, you have an attrition rate of average of about 10%, right? for screeners? average, across the board. if you can't tell me now -- >> i don't know the average, but it is higher than -- >> you have 4500 full time -- 45,000 as your cap, you have 4,500 vacancies at any time, 30% of them dropping out after you train them.
38% of the non-tso. that's what we have from you. again, it is a -- the water is draining and we're not going to get. it is hard to administer all those people. and staffing to traffic, they can't staff to traffic. and you heard your -- one of your defenders, sometimes the precheck line was longer than the others because no one adjusts. it is not a thinking organization. and i don't know how you get it. i'm an advocate of private screening under federal supervision of which hopefully could make better decisions, but i want to also know the total number of bonuses that were paid in 2015, 2014, i want to know how much that -- that's for management personnel. and your highest level. then i want to know the maximum and minimum amount for the screeners. these guys do work hard and the
staff is telling me their max is in the range of $300, and this guy is getting $80,000 and we're screwing the guy that is doing the work and the job? if we paid them better, maybe we could retain them. some of the private screening companies pay more than the tsa schedule. they have to pay the minimum, not done on the cheap. you're aware of that, aren't you? you have that flexibility to pay more? >> i have some flexibility. i don't have much. >> maybe you need more. thank you. i'll yield back. >> thank you. >> would my friend from florida just yield for one second? >> the gentleman's time -- >> i would do anything -- >> the c-span word for -- >> thank you, inspector general. good to see you again. you realize this is an equal opportunity committee, so when we criticize you today about having long lines and taking too long to screen people, next week
if there is a breach, we'll haul you up here again and lambaste you for not being more thorough, so we have that flexibility up here. and you do not. but i think based on what i've seen and i've been a critic at times, based on what i've seen, admiral, the work you're doing and inspector general, you continue to do, i think we're going in the right direction. we got a lot of work to do. the question we had at a previous hearing was regarding -- let me ask you up front, we seem to rely a lot on the whistle-blower and i'm wondering in the aviation and transportation security act, it says that employees may be hired and fired, you know, basically on the will of the management at tsa.
any other law in existence notwithstanding. so as i understand that, they do not have protection under title 7, civil rights act. they do not have protection under anti-discrimination law, by the language in the law. it says notwithstanding any other law to the contrary. they could be fired. and i'm just -- want to speak to that, admiral? >> they do have protection under civil rights under the equal opportunity act. we have explicitly put that into the -- into the way in which we govern the agency. they have all the -- all the due process rights and protections -- >> have you adopted that? because you just had a case in court where they threw the case out because they said employees were not covered by that. >> i'll have to look at that case but i believe they're fully
covered and that's one of the questions i asked. >> not covered by the statute. >> the nature of the statute. it was adopted by previous administrators. >> okay, okay, i'll take your word for that. that's helpful. if they're not, if they don't have statutory protections, they have to rely on the whistle-blower protection or the 40 cases that mr. roth is able to take up each year. and that's not nearly the protections that they would need, right? let me go back, we had a case a while ago, i think there were, like, 70 or 71 employees who were on that no fly list, terrorist watch list, that were actually working at some of our airports. and you came in and you changed that system and i want to ask you, were those employees, were they removed and i realize, let me fully explain, the reason that was given was that tsa was not privy to those lists on which those employees on the terrorist watch list, the no fly list were allowed to be employed
in airports and secure areas. but when you went in, i understand it from our last conversation, we cleaned that up. i wanted to know how it was cleaned up, were they fired. >> they actually weren't on the no fly or watch list, it was the tide database. this is information that may or may not indicate a direct association with terrorism. so one of the first things we did was, i wanted the fbi's read on every one of these individuals. and the answer back was none of them met sufficient information to actually directly call them a terrorist or associated terrorist. that said, we look back at it, many of them no longer hold their credentials, two of them had their credentials removed and the remainder have been scrubbed out of the database on the advice of the fbi. but it was very valuable to get -- what it did for us,
though, it allowed us then to get automated access to the categories of that separate database, which then ultimately could feed into the terrorist watch list or the terrorist screening database and now we do a full automated review of every single credential holder against that database and if anybody pops up in any category, it allows you to take a harder look at them, which we do and then go back to the intelligence community and the fbi and we do a scrub on those. >> there is a higher level of sensibility here, allowing these folks to actually work inside secure areas. >> yes, that was exactly the question i had about that. i've been working very chose there i with director comey and the initial counterterrorism center. >> mr. roth, you did a great job on the screening tests at the big airports. and, you know, we had very high failure rate the last time you used that test.
i'm not sure enough time has gone by to lou admiral neffenger to adopt a new protocol among the screeners. has that happened yet? have you done any new tests to sort of take a measurement of how we're doing? >> sure. when we have done is two things. one is the natural follow-up that we would do in any audit. for example, with regard to the penetration testing, we have review ed tsa's 22-point plan to increase security at the checkpoint. additionally we're planning more covert testing this summer of a similar scale that we did last summer, so we'll be able to tell exactly how we're doing. >> great. great. thank you, mr. chairman, for your indulgence, i yield back. >> now the gentleman from north carolina, mr. walker, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i have been amazed to know how
much money has actually been spent in some of these previous relocations. reassignments that nearing $200,000 per location. have you directed any of these reassignments during your tenure? >> no, sir. >> mr. brainerd reported there were relocation expenses for his reassignment to maine exceeded $100,000. is that true? as far as you know? >> that's my understanding, yes, sir. >> and would you agree that that's illegitimate use of taxpayers dollars? >> it is an in excess of what should have been spent. i capped any reassignment or relocation costs. now the process is first and foremost has to be looked at by the office of human capital. i want them to see is there a need for the relocation? second, has the individual that they're thinking about relocating, is that something the individual desires, wants, what is the skill set, why would you do that? i need a cfo, a chief financial officer has to sign off on the ability to pay for it and
reasonable cost and we set limits on the reasonable costs. and finally after it gets reviewed by my executive counsel, we make the final decision in the office. >> it sounds like you're trying to develop or implement a plan for the future, which is part of a cleaning up from some of the things in the past. probably the biggest thing that concerns me is the issue with mr. hogan. do you believe that mr. hogan's performance, bonuses of $90,000 is justified for the taxpayer? >> i don't think that level of bonus was justified, period. >> okay. i'm glad to hear that. as the leader of the oso, didn't mr. hogan have a key role in directed reassignments? >> he had a role in directed reassignments. it wasn't the only role. those came out of a different office. >> you said a role, can you expand a moment for me? >> moving the office of security operations ultimately has to get the people moved from one location to the other and perhaps has to carry out the order to make the movement
happen. >> is it fair to say he can a key factor in this? >> he had a role in this, yes. >> in looking at that, his situation and his involvement, i'm sure you've considered replacing mr. hogan as the director of oso given his responsibility for screening failures, rolling directed reassignments and his question of bonus payments. is that fair to say? >> i would like it back up a little bit, and talk about -- >> i would like -- i appreciate it, but i want you to answer the question. you're welcome to expound, but i asked a direct question there. >> everything i asked of mr. hogan since i've been here, he's done that. i look at all of my leaders and determine whether or not they're -- >> i appreciate it. but there has been some past violations, have you had discussions? is there part of groups that say, listen, this is a decision we may have to make as far as removing hogan for these past transgressions. >> the inspector general looked at the situation with respect to that.
i think there were people responsible for that, who -- >> i'm not asking -- with all due respect, you're doing a great job, but i'm asking about you, what is your role in mr. hogan's previous indiscretions here when it comes to some of the spending expenditures? have you had discussions or is there any plan to remove him or put him on probation? what is the decision here? >> i do not currently is a plan to remove mr. hogan. he performed to my expectations since i've been there and i've not seen any indiscretions on his part in the time that i've been in tsa. >> so even though we acknowledge there has been some, do we put -- >> i don't acknowledge he had indiscretions. i think he carried out some orders and those orders results in people being reassigned, sometimes for good reasons, sometimes maybe for ill considered reasons. >> even carrying out orders, reminds me of the movie a few good men, these young marines were still in the fictitious movie, carrying out the code red. if he's following orders, but
still doing something wrong or going after people, there is still some accountability. is that not fair? >> i think some of those issues have been investigated and they were recommended. we have filled out those recommendations as necessary from the inspector general. i have not seen any direct misconduct on the part of mr. hogan in the time that i've been there. >> no, i appreciate that. our concern with the facts we have is before you arrived and it was not -- not so far distant past there were some indiscretions and reviews going on. my time is expiring. i hope there will be some kind of looking into mr. hogan, as far as some of the things that went on, especially these involuntary relocations. i do think there is responsibility on his part, even if he was carrying out orders. i got ten seconds left. i want to compliment inspector general roth. with that i yield back. >> thank you, now recognize the gentleman from virginia, mr.
colleen, for five minutes. >> thank you very much. and welcome both of you. admiral neffenger, let me start by saying really appreciate the management reforms you have undertaken and the spirit with which you've taken them. this is a big enterprise. a difficult enterprise, a critical mission, with a lot of unsatisfying aspects to the job. very few human beings are going to make a 30 year career out of telling people to take off their belts and shoes yet it is critical to the mission. security of the american people. and so not easy, keep you motivated, to have a salary structure that makes sense, and i for one very much appreciate what you've done and i hope you don't leave with the new administration. and as a matter of fact, if you do, i hope you will give paul wiedenfeld a call at metro and
join his team because we need the kind of management reforms you're undertaken at tsa. one little plug that i always make and i have seen in my own experience a big change, which i appreciate, in how we're treating the public. but we still got work to do. but i have really been impressed at different airports i've gone through where -- and i just think when you create a more hospitable, friendly climate that invites people's cooperation, you get it. and there is always a risk if you get a hostile public or resentful public that something can go wrong. why not go the former if you can? and i just thank you for that. and i hope you'll keep that sense of the culture present, we're not dealing with cattle, we're dealing with people. and we need their cooperation and want them to feel good about the experience, as best they can. and i think we do have a long suffering public that gets it about the security mission and is willing to put up with more
than i would have guessed. but we should make it as easy as possible without compromising the security and that ought to be the ethos. so i commend it to you and thank you for the progress that has been achieved. let me first ask by having said all of that, i think there is a growing concern, a management challenge, what is happening in terms of wait times. so, for example, 600 passengers missed their flights in charlotte, north carolina, on good friday because of wait times that exceeded three hours. now, miss maloney said she doesn't know anyone who complains. my guess is there was 600 people that day on good friday in charlotte, who did. it is one thing to understand, i'll be disco-moated and inconvenienced to get through a security line to protect me and everybody else, it is quite another, the price of that is moving so slow and i'm going to miss my flight.
american airlines says 7,000 of its customers miss flights in march alone. the month of march, due to long waits in security lines. seattle and atlanta have indicated they may seek authority to try to privatize passenger screening to expedite this process. could you address that? i think we have to agree, that's not acceptable. it may happen. but if that becomes routine, that just doesn't -- now we get real public resistance. >> yes, sir. thank you for the question. the -- we have seen huge increases in passenger volume, there is no doubt about that, and at peak times we're seeing more people moving through the system than we have ever seen before. just to put it in perspective, four years ago, a big day in this country was about 1.6 million passengers going through screening checkpoints. we're well above 2 million passengers daily right now. that's just -- it is just a
follow increase. i do think we need to grow the staff slightly to do that. we have been working hard on that. once we got our appropriations bill passed in december, we began accelerated hiring because as you know, if you reduce by another 1600 or so people, we cut into that number well in advance of the fiscal year. so we're hiring and we're meeting our hiring quotas, i think the good news is we have people who actually want to come to work for tsa. >> it seems to me, and i know you know this is a good management principle, we got a priority set of metrics, three hours is not acceptable. we got to be accepting for ourselves a time frame that is acceptable, we don't go beyond that. and whatever the staffing required, i mean, mr. mica correctly talked about staffing to traffic. this is part of that. >> that's right. and we have been working very closely with the airlines, the airports, to understand when
those peak loads are coming through and make sure staffing meets that. i think we have improved significantly just in the past few weeks. i'm not aware of any wait times of the length you're talking about right now. i track them daily. and i look at passenger volume daily and look at across all of the airports. >> you may want to check good friday in charlotte. >> i will do that, according to this report. one final question if the chair will indulge me, a quick one, inspector general roth, do we have an anonymous hotline within tsa that people can call when they feel something is untoward? under the broader whistle-blower category? but in my county, there is a hotline you can call if you think someone is doing something untoward and you're protected within anonymity and followed up by our inspector general. >> yes, absolutely we have a hotline that is manned as well as a website so you can use either of those ways to complain or give us information that we will -- >> guaraeed follow-up?
>> we will take a look at it the we get 18,000 complaints a year. we can't guarantee that every single one of those complaints will be thoroughly investigated, but we certainly look at them and evaluate them. >> fine, thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. connolly. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from georgia, mr. heis. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think we have got a very great facility for the federal law enforcement training center. i think the tsa frankly is not utilizing it to the full potential. certainly not to the potential that would be helpful. but how long on an average does a new hire have to wait before they begin training at the tsa academy? >> i've got good news to report on that. as you know, that academy stood up for the first time ever on january 1st of this year. this is new for us. and we are pushing now eight concurrent classes about 200 officers a week. we -- it takes about four months to on board somebody new. and during -- and we typically bring them on board, and they have to get their security background checks and the like. and then we get them right into a training class shortly after
that. we're actually seeing the ability to move people right in and -- >> four months is the average wait? >> it is on average four to five months, but during that time, you're going through the background checks and the like to determine if -- >> so how many -- what percentage of tsa go through -- >> now it is -- we're doing -- >> 10%? >> now we're putting 100% of new hires through flat -- we used to train at various places around the country. we're going to make a couple of exceptions because of the need to get some more officers out in front of the summer travel season, so we're doing -- we're taking the flat seat curriculum and doing it locally in a couple of key location, but we are -- >> is that local training as effective? >> we're using the same flat seat -- >> the curriculum, is it -- >> from my opinion, it is not ideal. i would like to do everything, if we're building out capacity and flat seat has been working with us -- >> how many airports requested
the authorization to utilize local training? >> i think i've got two airports now that have asked the authorization. >> two. okay. have any been denied? >> what we have said is we will do it on a as needed basis. we're able to -- we have been working with flat seed to increase the class offerings there. >> is there a clear policy to determine the as need basis? >> there is a clear policy. >> can you submit that to us? and let us have a copy of that? >> yes, sir. >> in regard to the bonuses, i'd like to ask a couple of questions regarding mr. hogan. you're aware that the $90,000 in bonuses were broken up in increments of $10,000 each. could you explain why the agency did it this way? why it was broken out that way? >> as i understand it, and as you know that was done under previous leadership, but as i understand it, it was because the maximum amount allowable at any given bonus was $10,000.
>> okay. so this is some sort of scheme to give him -- could you explain smurfing? >> i'm sorry, say it again? >> smurfing. >> smurfing. i'm not familiar with the term. >> so if there is $90,000 broken up in $10,000 increments, is that the type of thing that would need approval from dhs? >> it does now. i will tell you that there is nothing in my experience that finds that justifiable. it is why i stopped the -- it doesn't matter if it didn't violate -- >> why do you say that? why is that not justifiable? what does that appear to be to you? >> it doesn't pass the front page test. >> like something is being hidden. >> i just don't like it. i don't think it is right. and i stopped that practice and i made -- i make sure now all of our -- all of our bonuses have to be approved at the department
level and i severely restricted them within tsa. >> mr. roth, i would like to hear your comments on all of this. >> as we looked at our report, it was clearly an attempt to circumvent the department of regulations on approval. smurfing is breaking up financial transactions into something below the reporting requirement, which is what happened here. >> right. >> the individual responsible for that, by the time we did our investigation, was no longer employed at tsa. and the regulations that existed at the time were so loose that it was technically permissible even though clearly the intent was, i think, wrong. >> so the intent is to hide. >> absolutely. >> absolutely. and that's what smurfing is. i appreciate you bringing that. is there anything currently preventing the agency, back to you, admiral, from disguising these bonuses in forms of payments, be it relocation or any other method where it is really just a disguise for bonuses? >> yes.
i especially prohibited it and made it very clear in policy and happy to provide that policy for the committee's record. and i require oversight from the department before any bonus can be awarded to a senior executive. >> i would like to have that policy submitted. so you're saying your testimony here is that there is no disguise taking place? >> not under my leadership. and i made clear that we put that directly into policy. and i made sure that even -- that no single individual can approve a bonus award for senior executive without oversight, and has to be approved by the department, even i don't -- i've not even given myself the authority to make the final approval. it goes through the department for oversight. >> okay. thank you, mr. chairman. >> i thank the gentleman. now recognize the gentleman from missouri, mr. clave. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank both of you for being here. we all agree that security must
be the top priority and there is no disagreement about that. mr. roth, when you testified here in november, you were critical of certain programs that granted passengers access to expedited screening lanes when they had not undergone risk assessments. you also commended administrator neffenger, you said he, and i quote, deactivated certain risk assessment rules that granted expedited screening through precheck lanes. is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> okay. on march 24th, the bureau of transportation statistics issued a report that said u.s. airline and foreign airlines serving the u.s. carried an all time high of 895.5 million system wide. so administrator neffenger, passenger volumes have been increasing.
increasing. but the number of screeners in the tsa workforce has dropped by nearly 6,000 over the past four years. is that right? >> yes, sir. >> and why did this occur? >> i'm sure there were good reasons for people before me to reduce that. i think it was predicated on a prediction of higher numbers of people getting into expedited screening than we have seen. it is just a fact that we're a smaller agency on the front line workforce than we were before and that we have significantly more people moving through the system. >> and you know i heard my friend, mr. gowdy, from south carolina talk about he doesn't encounter much trouble. i traveled through st. louis, lambert field weekly. and it seems to have a shortage of employees, especially for the precheck line. probably 90% of the time that line is closed and each time staff gives me the excuse that they don't have enough personnel, enough security
officers to check people. so it is very stressful -- frustrating to my constituents who have paid the extra fee for precheck. is there a shortage of staff for airports like lambert? >> i think we have a shortage of staff across the system right now. we're moving people into the areas of greatest volume and greatest need. we are hiring back the people that have been slated to be traded out this year. and we have -- we're pushing out about 200 new officers every week. so what i'm hoping to do is build back a sufficient staff to meet the peak staffing that we need. we currently cannot staff effectively across the system to the peak volume periods. >> so in your opinion, was tsa screener workforce sized appropriately to handle increasing passenger volumes? >> i think the work for the budgets were predicated on what
was predicted to be 2% volume growth. i think we used the bureau of transportation statistics predictions and remember these budgets were built a couple of years ago. the actual volume growth has been significantly higher than that. so in my opinion, we're not at the right size. that said, i appreciate all the great comments about our workforce because we have a really dedicated workforce and they're doing a very challenging job out there. and doing it quite well. i'd like to get them some more help. >> okay. perhaps you can help me. i'm annually giving a career fair in st. louis, the largest one held. would love to invite your local staff coming out and talking with potential candidates. i'll follow up with you on that. >> yes, thank you. >> on may 4th, homeland security
secretary johnson issued a statement responding to increased waiting times and he said this, tsa is increasing the staffing of tsos to help expedite the checkpoint process without sacrificing security. mr. neffenger, what is the size of the screener workforce tsa needs to handle projected passenger volumes while ensuring that only passengers who are -- who are subjected to risk assessments are sent through expedited screening procedures? >> well, congress just approved a reprogramming request which will allow me to hire another 768 screeners, screening officers, this summer. we'll get them out in the workforce, we hope, by the middle of june. rye neffenger. . . might meana. micah mica. . .
. neffenger. . now recognize the gentleman from georgia, mr. carter for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you, admiral and mr. roth. thank you very much. would you agree that having expert and standardized training like we have at fletc in georgia, that's important that we have person will that's fully prepared it keep our airports safe? >> yes, sir, absolutely. >> i bring that up because had mbz federal law enforcement training center, i know you've been there it's in my district. i'm proud of that. i look at that as being one of the areas that we are getting
right in the federal government. to go down there -- i want to invite the other -- my colleagues here on this committee, particularly, to visit. because -- we'll try to schedule a trip down there for everyone to see just what an outstanding job they are doing down there in the way of training. and i mention that because i want to make sure that we're not confusing these well-trained employees with the problem we're having that i consider to be more in performance and more in management in particular. when you talk about having a shortage of employees, that's not because they're not well-trained. that's a management problem. when you talk about employees not showing up on a holiday and having a shortage during the busiest travel time, that's a management problem. so i want to make sure that we understand there's a difference here. that they are being trained well. it's a great facility. it's used by 94 different agencies in -- so training's not
the problem. the problem is a management problem. and a performance problem. >> thank you for that. and thank you for recognizing that our front line work force, i believe it to be one of the best in the world. i really do. i've seen their dedication, talked to them. i've been down to fletc multiple times. i meet with as many classes as i can when i go down there. that's a world class institution which is why i was really excited about the opportunity to stand up a full time academy down there. and connie who runs it is one of the best in the world. and we're looking forward to continuing to develop that. my goal is ultimately to train every single employee of tsa through that academy. that's the plan in the future. we've got a pretty aggressive plan, a pretty ambitious plan. i'm getting a lot of support from congress on that. i really appreciate that. >> i want to make sure we differentiate between the training portion of it and the management. >> yes, sir, that's exactly right. >> we obviously, as you can tell, a lot of upset people here
today. obviously we have a management problem at tsa. and we're depending on you -- >> that's what i've been tackling, yes, sir. >> let me pivot for just a second. a different subject. a couple weeks ago we had some employees of tsa here who had testified before us, you're familiar with that. they talked about the involuntary directed reassignments. some of these that we had to testify before us had gotten excellent marks, in fact had gotten awards, being recognized for their outstanding performance. their job performance, and yet, they were reassigned against their will. and the thing that concerns me is not just that -- the upheaval of having to move somewhere else for these people, obviously, that is a very trying time for families and for employees. but the cost in it. what we were told is this relocation costs were well over
$100,000. is this really happening? >> i believe it did happen. i stopped that policy completely. we don't do directive -- that said i think it's important for an operating agency to have the ability to move people periodically. you have to do that. >> i think they understand it what their concern was they were being disciplined. >> and that's what my concern was, too. i put some very strong controls over that process. i will share with you the nature of those controls so we don't take up too much committee time. i will tell you i'm as concerned as you are about that. those reports greatly distressed me. i stopped that process, it's not going to happen again. >> good, so we can take your word that it's over with? >> yes, sir, you can absolutely take my word on that. >> okay. thank you i appreciate that. again, thank you for your dedication to fletc because -- again, mr.
chairman, i'm going to try to get that together. but i want everyone to understand what a great facility this is. this is an example of the federal government working. >> yes, sir. >> thank you, i yield back. >> we now recognize the gentle woman from michigan for five minutes. >> thank you. i would like to examine the hiring and the role of human resources at tsa in more detail. in 2008, during the bush administration, tsa awarded a $1.2 billion human capital service contract to lockheed martin. under this contract known as hr access, lockheed administered the agency's process for recruiting and hiring. and it's also responsible for personnel and payroll processing services such as position classification administrator, is that correct? >> yes, ma'am. >> many of the improper
personnel practices that the whistle blowers alleged at the last hearing including improper hiring and directive reassignments, would have occurred while lockheed was providing these services to tsa, is that correct. >> it was during the same time period yes, ma'am. >> on january 29th a report was issued about tsa's contract with lockheed martin. among other performance deficiencies there were incidents in which lockheed martin failed to handle personally identifiable information properly. is that correct, mr. roth? >> yes, ma'am. >> the report also found that lockheed martin, quote, failed to consistently refer the eligible veterans on job announcement ultimately the report stated lockheed martin hiring team and i quote, report a total of more than 150 veterans who were not referred on six different job
announcements. mr. roth, is that correct? >> yes, ma'am. >> so if lockheed martin failed to follow federal regulations in regards to the competitive service hires, particularly veterans preference, this is simply intolerable. so administrator, are you familiar with the inspector general's report? >> i am, yes, ma'am. >> okay. when does the tsa's contract with lockheed martin end? >> it's coming to an end this year. we're completely restructuring our approach to that. i would like tsa to own more of its hiring recruitment and personnel policies. so we're restructuring that completely. it's part of the plan to overhaul the human resource management program of the agency. >> in lieu of the contract ending with lockheed martin, is this going to be put out to bid
again or -- when you say assume, do you have a capacity and the resources as far as budget to be able to take on more of these responsibilities in hiring? >> we don't have all the capacity we need. if i can get back to you with a fuller answer for the record we can show you what the plan and strategy is for moving forward beyond the hr access contract. >> i want to be on the record that the issues that were brought forward in the hiring process and we being a federal agency is totally unacceptable. i -- the fact that we are ending a relationship with an industry or company that did not meet our benchmarks is refreshing. but i don't want to hear that we're taking on the responsibilities ourselves and come back later with concerns. because you weren't able to handle the capacity.
>> yes, ma'am, i share those same concerns. and we have to do this in a deliberate way in a way that protects our work force as it currently exists and our potential work force for the future. >> mr. roth, did you make any recommendations based on your findings on what tsa could do to improve their hiring practices? >> yes, ma'am, we did. we made five different recommendations tsa agreed with each of those recommendations and we're in the process of doing an audit follow up to insure that, in fact tsa is doing what they said they would do. >> thank you. and i look forward to moving forward under your leadership and protecting a group of employees in our federal government. so many others are, but the tsa being a member of congress, and in the airport constantly, the respect i have for the agency the need for good firm leadership and the accountability that we saw through this situation, we need to move forward. and i support you in the future, thank you.
>> we'll now recognize the gentleman from north carolina, mr. meadows for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman. inspector general roth, i want to go on record to not only thank you but your entire team for your service. i have great admiration for your role and the roles of your colleagues across the federal work force. but i have a top five list i would say you and your team are in my top five lists for not only do insightful work, but thorough work, actionable work and follow up work that provides a real tool for members of congress. and so i want to make sure that the record reflects that. >> thank you. >> administrator, neffenger, are you familiar with federal air marshal robert mcclain? >> yes, sir, i am. >> are you familiar with the
fact that the courts have overturned tsa's assertions that his whistle blower disclosures were not prohibited by law. >> yes, i am. >> are you aware of the fact it's been over a since an administrative judge has indicated those disclosures should indeed be protected? >> yes, sir. >> okay. so if you're aware of all those and in light of the fact that mr. cummings asked do you tolerate retaliation, in what scheme could you not see the fact that he has been reinstated but yet no raises, he still continues to be paid at a position -- and not put in a position that he would have been in had he not been fired. at what point can you justify that that is not retaliation? >> well, i don't believe it is. i believe he was reinstated as required by the -- >> at a pay that he was at in
2005. do you know any other tsa employee that is at a pay that he was at in 2005? >> well, i'll double-check. >> you don't have to double check, i know. >> off the top of my head i can't give you the pay of any tsa employees. >> do most tsa employees get a raise? >> the annual cost of living increases. >> would you say if he didn't would that be retaliation. >> i'll check to see -- >> no, yes or no. if he's getting paid the same he got paid in 2005, is it retaliation? >> i'd have to see the facts of the case. >> i'm giving you the facts of the case. is it retaliation or not? let me tell you, what really bothers me is i protect my whistle blowers. for you to get up here and talk about how wonderful the rank and file is, and how you're looking out for their best interests, and to see evidence that retaliation continues to go it has a chilling effect, wouldn't
you think? >> if there is retaliation i will look into it. >> why is the office of special counsel having to open a full investigation? >> on mr. mcclain? >> yeah. why are they doing a full investigation? >> the one that was already done? >> i'm talking about the one they're about to embark on. >> if they're opening it again it's because of his allegation. i'm not familiar with the specifics -- >> don't you think you ought to be? >> i'm familiar with the fact that we've reinstated him and he now is in position to compete for whatever position he desires to compete for. >> administrator, let me just tell you, that testimony is very troubling to me. because what i'm not going to tolerate is retaliation on whistle blowers. that's what it looks like to me. >> i don't tolerate it either, i promise you i will -- >> so can you get back to this
committee within 30 days with a way that you're going to rectify it so the office of special counsel doesn't have to do a full investigation? >> i will follow up on this colloquy to determine what the actual situation currently is. >> do i have your commitment? >> i have your commitment i will get back to you with what i have found. >> an action plan. >> if necessary an action plan, yes, sir. >> within 30 days to the chairman? >> i will get back to you exactly with what i find. i'm interested -- >> that's not an answer. okay, what's a reasonable amount of time there? >> i can do it within 30 days. what i want to do is -- this is new information you're providing to me i'm not aware of. i need -- >> you've done your research. this would not have been a shock this might have come up today. is that a shock to you? >> i'm aware of the previous issue concerning the federal air marshal. >> let me dispense with the rhetoric, get it fixed where we don't have to waste taxpayer dollars on a special investigation into this. you're the guy in charge, we're
going to hold you accountable i'll yield back and expect a response to the committee in 30 days. >> thank the gentleman. we'll recognize the gentleman from oklahoma, mr. russell for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i share my colleague's concerns, obviously, about whistle blowers. i think while everyone who has the mantle of responsibility certainly wants to do right with the organization. when we do see individuals that have the courage to come forth, they have to be protected. i think that's the bipartisan motivation of everyone on our committee today. i want to take questions more on the security end and take it in a little bit different direction, however. inspector general roth, i, too, share my colleagues', you know, opinion of the competence of
your office and your personal diligence. the record has been out standing. >> my question today deals with vapor weight dog teams in terms of security.>> my question toda vapor weight dog teams in terms of security. did the ig in reports make any recommendations on vapor weight dog teams and how they should be deployed or how they should be used at different airports? >> we have not looked at that issue. my understanding is that gao may have done work on that but we have not. >> okay. i appreciate that. admiral neffenger, as a preface, first off, i take some comfort knowing that you're at the helm of this organization. i don't think anyone who has advanced to your level as an admiral in our coast guard who has protected our shorelines and protected our borders has
anything other than the interest of the defense of our country. and i appreciate that. i also think that it probably gives you incredible insight in dealing with a myriad of problems in a very complex and at times lethargic organization. in oklahoma city in my district. the vapor weight dog team issue came to mind because acting federal security director steve courtwright had cited it was the ig's reports as the reasons for the elimination of vapor weight dog teams from airports such as will rogers world airport. and it was due to the need for performance and screening and getting people through and the airports would have to lose the dog teams. in the case, although we had will rogers that was one of the
charter five original airports in the training of these teams, they trained four such teams very effectively. allowed great through put. the entire program was eliminated from that airport. i suspect it's probably not the only one. so my question to you is, why would a federal security director make the claim that it was the ig and their findings that would call for the elimination of that program and why would we not want these teams at airports that might have less capacity other than a huge airport but they also might have greater vulnerability for infiltration. it seems to me that security wise it makes good sense. and i realize this is not part of the normal stuff. but it is very important for security. >> well, i'm not sure what the federal security directors discussion was. let me tell you from my perspective what we've done.
i like the -- we call them passenger screening dogs they look for trace odors and follow them back to their source. it's a tremendous resource. it's a great explosive detection technology we have. it can move people very efficiently through a security line. i don't have as many of those dogs as i'd like to have. to meet -- this is my decision i'm the guy you need to look at for this. it was my decision to take dogs from some airports that aren't seeing as much volume as the larger airports for the coming summer in order to meet what we know to be the large passengers volumes. it was never my intention to eliminate their use. we have about 322 total dogs at tsa operates, most of those are trained to do cargo sniffing, not passenger screening. we're in the process of converting as many of those as we can to passenger screening k-9's. it takes about a month to do
that. >> i would just ask, again, security has been much of my life, a lot of my interest here in congress. i would ask that we consider -- if i were an enemy, i would infiltrate in small or regional airports simply because there is a better chance of infiltration than a large one. deploying all the assets, once you get in the loop you're inside the loop no matter where you originated or flew from. i would ask you relook some of this specifically in a vulnerability stance, not necessarily a political stance. that's irrelevant in my view when it comes to the security of the nation. we ought to relook rather than putting everything where we expect to have a problem and maybe leave areas vulnerable where we don't. with that mr. chairman i yield back my time. >> i now recognize the gentleman from alabama, mr. palmer. >> i'm the guy you've been waiting on, the last one.
mr. neffenger, how many different sistant administrators have led the office of intelligence and analysis since tsa was created? >> i don't have that exact number. i'll get that for you. >> it's 11. and i ask that because it concerns me that the office would suffer from that rate of turnover, would you agree with that? >> turnover in offices is always challenging. >> particularly the office that's responsible for your intelligence and analysis. have you looked into that? >> yes, sir. in fact i've brought in a new chief of intelligence this year and he's an intelligent professional. one of the things i asked him to do was to insure that we build a world class high quality intelligence operation and he's in the process of doing that. >> that's mr. bush. >> mr. bush, tom bush, yes, sir.
>> are you aware of any significant security violations committed by oia officials? >> i'm not sure if you're referencing anything in particular. >> i'm asking you if you're aware of any security violations committed by oia officials? >> i know prior to my aprival there was an individual who was in charge of oia who had been disciplined. >> that answer would be yes? >> yes. >> do you believe oia should abide by the professional standards of the intelligence community in handling classified information, wasn't that what the issue was? >> my understanding that was not the issue that was about, no, sir. >> what were the circumstances related to the departure of former assistant administrator steven sadler? >> i need to familiarize myself with that case.
i'm sorry, sir. >> there were multiple security violations that took place under his leadership. what percentage of tsa's intelligence and appropriation is used for vetting and traditional intelligence? >> i'll give you the exact number for the record, but we -- a significant amount of our activity is spent on vetting. understanding the vetted population. but we also have a strong analysis branch that works closely with the intelligence community members to provide specific intelligence assessments of transportation security challenges and risks. >> one of the -- i'm going to transition a little bit here. one of the things i'm concerned about is in our last hearing, the repeat reports that there are only three u.s. airports that currently require employee security checks.
are you aware of that? >> that's actually not correct. it depends on what you mean by security checks. anyone that holds a credential -- >> i'm not talking about requiring them to go through the same kind of security that, say, a staff member. >> this would be screening of individuals as they -- >> as they're reporting for work. i should have been more clear. i apologize. >> there are currently i think three or four airports that do -- the airport themselves do security screening. there are other places where employers provide security screening. we are at varying levels across the system right now for direct screening. everyone has access requirements that's a fundamental requirement. those access requirements are with their badge. and those badges give you access to certain locations. and then there are some airports that have gone beyond that to do
actual screening, we in tsa do random screening through the sterile area of the airports as well. >> but that gets back to my concern, every member of my staff, every member of any member of congress's staff has to go through a screening process. their bags are screened they have to take metal objects out of their pockets. they all have badges, okay? and that's part of my concern is that out of the thousands of people who work for tsa, that -- does it not create any concern -- it was reported there were a number of tsa employees who had some tie to terrorist groups. it just seems to me that they ought to go through the same screening process that -- >> we've had no tsa employees that have ties to terrorist groups. we vet our people daily. if we ever found that they'd be gone. >> i'm telling you in our last hearing that came up. that it was reported that there were some who had some connection to terrorists or potentially had terrorist ties.
i'm bringing this up in the context of out of the thousands of people who work for tsa, all of whom have security badges, it just makes sense before they enter these critical areas that they go through a screening process. like everybody else. their bag goes through a machine, they go through the machine, like everybody else. >> congressman i want to make sure i understand. first of all, there are the people who are not tsa employees who have access badges. we vet those people continuously. there's a population of 900,000 or so in the aviation system that have access badges of some type. it's varying types of access. they're not all accessing the same locations. those people are continuously vetted against the terrorist data base and they're recurrently vetted against the criminal data base.
a continuous vetting pilot -- >> we're not talking about the same thing. >> tsa employees are also vetted against -- >> we're not talking about the same thing. i mean, it's also been reported there's thousands of badges that have been lost or stolen. that -- let me say, that haven't been accounted for. my question is, when they report for work, do they have to put their bag on a conveyer to go through a machine to see what's in the bag? do they go -- >> in some locations they do, in some locations they don't. >> my contention is it ought to be all locations. i yield back. >> i haven't asked questions yet so i'd like to recognize myself now for probably more than five minutes. so let's talk about the
involuntary reassignments or the directed reassignments you've spoken about that. you said there is or is not evidence that that was done as a retaliatory action? >> i do not have any direct evidence. what i'm waiting for is to see what the results of the office of special counsel investigation tells me with a couple of people who have made some allegations. >> the office of special counsel has already stated andrew rhodes directed reassignment as well as becky roarings suspension due to evidence there were cases of improper whistle blower retaliation. are you telling me they haven't given you the final report? >> i am waiting for -- mr. rhodes has an outstanding investigation which is still pending, in the meantime, i was pleased to see that prior to my arrival that that had been stayed and he is still located in the -- >> what about becky roarings? >> same with hers. i understand hers is still undergoing review as well. >> no other evidence of any -- >> i myself -- >> retaliation.
do you have any evidence of any other types of retaliation above and beyond the reassignment tool they had used? >> i don't have personally any knowledge of retaliation. if i see it i will take action to address it. >> mr. roth, do you have anything to shed on this? >> i do not. i don't have any evidence that i could share at least today. >> okay. administrator, we have particularly over the last six months i've got kind of one page -- two sided page here of outstanding requests we have from this committee. we will give you a copy of this. i don't expect you on the spot to respond to it. there's some that have had no -- again i don't expect you on the spot. we need help getting these responses in a timely manner. some have been good others have been not so good. some we've had nothing on, we get very frustrated with having
to do in camera reviews. we handle classifies intelligence on a regular basis. i need your support in responding to these outstanding requests. >> yes, sir, i will. >> i want to go back to what mr. palmer was talking about. you said you vet daily. when somebody -- i want to get a crystal clear picture. when somebody applies and goes through the process of working for the tsa, they get what sort of background check? >> it's a standard national agency check, it's the same type of check you do for people coming into the military first time. you do a criminal history background check. check their name against the terrorist screening data base. look for any disqualifying activities, offenses or the like in their background prior to coming. >> there is some infractions that would still be acceptable to be hired as a tsa? >> there are i can't enumerate those off the top of my head. >> if you can provide the current standard. >> yes, sir i will.
>> you said you vet those daily. but how do you -- if somebody were to get arrested, somebody had a assault charge or murder charge, you know, pick something heinous, how would you know that once they've been hired? >> well, after they've been hired, we do recurrent criminal history background checks. >> how often? >> i believe it's an annual basis. i'll verify that. and then we do daily recurrent, continuous test check against the terrorist screening data base for our employees. >> 450 or so airports, i'm not sure how many ports you're dealing with. how many of these -- you mentioned 900,000 security badges of all sorts. >> in the aviation system. >> in the aviation system. so how many of those are -- do
you have a sense of how many of those have biometric information, whether it be as simple as a photograph on them? >> they all have photographs, those are issued. these are the badges at airports and airlines issue their individuals. it's set individually at each airport. a badge you have for atlanta will not work in any other airport. these are issued by employers and the airport. the standard is set according to -- there's a federal security standard they have to meet in order for the badge -- they have to have photographic id's. not all the biometric identifiers are necessarily in use for access purposes at every airport. >> when you say biometric, one of the issues in the past is they didn't have readers, they didn't have electronic readers for each of these. >> well, i don't want to confuse this with the twit card. the transportation workers identification credential is not used in the aviation system. that's used in the maritime
transportation system and people who are interacting with that. that one does not currently have readers for that. that biometric in the maritime world is not currently in use. it's still a -- it's a badge that's -- card that's issued with a background check. it has a biometric on it but not all the readers are out there. that's a government issued card. it's a joint program between the coast guard and tsa. it does not apply to aviation workers. that's a much larger population of people who hold that twit card. >> so you shouldn't be able to use it at an airport, but in the -- >> you cannot. >> shipping, cruise lines, things like that? >> yes, sir, truckers that interact with the ports and the like. >> okay. that is one of my bigger concerns, is the access that so many people have. dulles airport alone my
understanding there is 16,000 security badges out there. to mr. palmer's point, what he was talking about, is, you know, why not check people who go -- why not check tsa employees as they go in and out? you check a pilot. i stand there and you know they go to the front of the line as they should. pilots are checked. if we're trusting somebody, it's trusting the pilot. why not check each person? >> well, we do check each person. they do recurrent drug testing, we vet them against the data bases we watch them everybody. these are people who are standing in the checkpoint day in or day out. >> if they -- pick whatever you want in a back pack and walk past you would never know, correct? >> well, that's not necessarily true. we do a lot of integrity testing, in fact we have a good integrity testing program i think. if we find people -- >> you're checking and screening
every person that goes through except the tsa people. >> they're checked by definition when they show up in the morning. they're vetted every single day. we look at them every single day. they're probably some of the most watched people in the transportation system because they're under the watchful eyes of supervisors, under the watchful eyes of the other screening work force. so i believe that we're doing a very good job of keeping track of those folks. these are really good people. they have taken -- >> by and large i'm sure they're really good people. but, again, when you have a zero tolerance for -- you have to keep security at its highest level. i don't understand that. we check a pilot, we check the flight attendants, but we don't check the tsa folks. you have had arrests. there have been problems. it's not as if it's never
happened before. your ability to move drugs or weapons or anything else across that line, mr. roth, do you have any insight into this? >> i don't, no. congressman. >> i want to move to dogs, if i could. i'm a huge fan of dogs. the person i want to sit next to on the airport is the person who has had their luggage screened, they walk through a metal detector and they've walked by a bomb-sniffing dog. i've never seen some of the technology that's used at the airport, i've never seen it at the white house. i don't see it in afghanistan where they're dealing with improvised explosive devices on a daily basis. i don't see it in a lot of other places. europe has banned some of this technology and we use it here in the united states. and i appreciate your comments about the dogs, but the single best way to secure an airport from an improvised explosive device is a dog.
would you disagree with that or agree with that? >> it's a huge piece of the security environment. i like dogs too, i'm a big fan. i've been advocating for more k-9's in the aviation security environment. >> we need more of them. i hope the appropriations will follow up appropriately. i want to compliment tsa also on its instagram presence. you want to see an entertaining instagram, go ahead and go to the tsa one. i'll put in a plug for it. you got some 400 plus thousand people that are looking at it. but it's also kind of scary. because almost on a daily basis, i mean, the one i looked at just now had -- there was a live smoke grenade somebody tried to bring on to an airport. vwi there was a picture of a gun they had taken off a person. the rise of people bringing or attempting to bring guns on an airplane is astronomical. the statistics on this are quite high. my question, maybe you can shed light on what that's happening, but i don't see that there's much a c