tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN June 15, 2016 4:00am-6:01am EDT
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watch. >> commemorating 30 years. congress has approved a $28 million of a shift in funding from the tsa to try to alleviate long security lines. next, the head of the transportation security administration peter neffenger takes questions, senator ron johnson chairs the senate homeland security committee.
good morning, this hearing will come to order. i apologize for my tardiness, what should have taken ten minutes took an hour. but i want to welcome the witnesses, try and catch my breath. appreciate your testimony. obviously there's a fair amount of interest in this hearing. i think at the heart of what is currently ailing the tsa is the fact that we really have two completely contradictory goals. on the other hand we want efficient throughput so we can get passengers to their flights on time, and at the same time we need 100% security.
all of this is being driven -- we have to understand the root cause of the problem here is islamic terrorists. since the inception of the tsa we have spent about $95 billion just on tsa alone. the cost of islamic terror to the world, to the civilized world, is enormous. so if you really want to talk about addressing the root cause of the problem is we have got to defeat islamic terrorists. where they reside. but again, you know, i appreciate all the witnesses' testimony. the fact that we consciously made a decision to decrease the number of tsa workers obviously didn't work out very well. i appreciate the fact that we're beefing up training, unity effort. i mean, all these things are positive signs. i appreciate fact that mr. neffenger you are working with
the inspector general's office and gao, it comes through clear on testimony. i apologize for being late. do ask unanimous consent that my opening remarks, my written opening statement be included in the record and with that i will turn it over to senator carper and i will catch my breath. >> mr. chairman, we're glad you're here. i had a couple of trains that were shot out under me coming down from delaware. i know the feeling. thank you for joining us this morning. this is going to be a good hearing. this is going to be a real good hearing, it's a timely hearing. as we all know the transportation security administration was created in the wake of the attacks on september 11th and we understand while the terrorist threats to our aviation system that the agency was created to combat. having said that, though, we oftentimes fail to acknowledge an undeniable tension that exists alluded to by the chairman, an undeniable tension that exists at the core of tsa's mission.
on the one hand we ask tsa to screen literally millions of passengers and their luggage carefully every day to prevent explosives, weapons and other dangerous items from finding a way on board our aircraft. on the other hand millions of passengers, we've been among them, we've all been there, want to get on board our airplanes on time and without the aggravation that security screening can oftentimes bring. given the long wait times we've recently witnessed at security check points at a number of airports across america we know that it can be difficult to strike the right balance between security and convenience. some might even be tempted to say that we can't have both. that effective security measures invariably bring with them inconvenience, lines and even missed flights. i disagree. in fact, i believe that many of the problems we've witnessed at some of our airports are imminently solvable but first we need to better understand the scope of the challenge and its genesis.
after the department of homeland security's office of inspector general produced a troubling report last year revealing vulnerabilities at tsa check points admiral neffenger took several steps to tighten security. while the steps that he and his team have taken have contributed to longer waits for some, there are other reasons why tsa has struggled lately. i want to talk about a couple of them. resource constraints and increased air travel have plays a significant role. tsa is being asked literally to do more with less. while inept management and leadership at some airports have been a major factor the truth is that staffing at tsa has dropped by more than 10% since 2011. at the same time the staffing has gone down passenger volume at our airports has increased by more than 10%. tsa must be nimble enough to handle this growth in air travel, especially the surges that occur during the busy summer travel season like we're seeing now and at other times during the year. the good news is that admiral neffenger and secretary johnson have moved quickly to reduce wait times and do some without
compromising security. is there more we can do? >> sure there is. i'm going to talk about a couple of those things. based on the reports that we've seen these efforts are already beginning to bear fruit and help keep passengers moving during the busy memorial day weekend. but security, let me just say this, security in our airplanes, it cannot all be on tsa and admiral neffenger and his leadership team. this is a shared responsibility. it cannot all be on tsa and mr. neffenger. congress must work with the administration to ensure that the agency has the resources it needs to effectively carry out their mission. funding levels and appropriations bills awaiting action, we have some appropriators here, you folks are doing a good job with respect to funding levels with the tsa and they move tsa in the right direction. we need to enact those bills. but airport and air carriers have a responsibility to reduce wait times as well.
i've been encouraged with the willingness of private sector stakeholders to contribute their own resources and ideas to solve this problem. a longer term solution is being administrated, we just talked about it, it's been demonstrated in realtime at london's heathrow airport. in the spirit of finding out what works and doing more of that tsa announced an innovation lane in atlanta, i'm sure we will hear more about them in a partnership between tsa and delta airlines to improve passenger throughput by 29%. while that shows great promise over the long haul airlines have taken a number of steps that can make a difference which is reassigning their own employees to help tsa in some places. the most important step we can take is continue to dramatically grow participation in trusted traveler programs like pre check that speed the vetting of the speed of the screening of vetted passengers and shortened wait times for those not in pre check lines.
i'm encouraged by steps that tsa has taken to increase pre check enrollments, we're told they have soared by 3500 a day to 16,000 a day at the end of last month where we look forward to learning more today about additional ways we can encourage enrollment in this program. it's important to keep in mind there are very real security let's through aviation system. these guys aren't stupid. they're trying to come up with bombs that are harder for dogs to detect. today's solution may not work tomorrow. those are already changing their tactics that require that we constantly address airport screening checks and airplanes. we need to stay on top of growth in air travel and changing travel patterns so tsa and their partners are not caught with dealing with logistical
challenges they aren't prepared for. that is why strong leadership is critical seeing us through these difficult times. leadership is a lot like integrity. integrity, if you don't have it nothing else happens. i think we are blessed for leadership and i'm grateful admiral neffenger for your willingness to serve. this is a shared responsibility each of us need to do our part. if we do we will be much safer as a nation. let's roll. thank you. >> thank you, senator carper. it is the tradition to swear in witnesses. if you will stand and raise your right hand. do you wear swear the testimony you will give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? please be seated. >> our first witness is admiral peter neffenger. admiral neffenger is the admiral of the security and safety administration. he mansion a workforce of 60,000 employees.
is responsible for security operations at approximately 440 airports throughout the you straights. prior to joining tsa he served as the commandante. >> thank you, chairman. good morning, chairman johnson, ranking member carper, distinguished members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. i sincerely appreciate the committee's oversight and support of tsa and our important counterterrorism mission. since taking office on july 4th last year i've traveled extensively to observe our operations and meet with our employees and they are truly impressive. their patriotism, sense of duty, commitment is exemplary. i committed to addressing the immediate challenges we faced in our security mission while positioning tsa for the future. to that end over the past 11 months we have undertaken a systematic and deliberate transportation of tsa.
our strategies included through elements, first focus on security effectiveness in the wake of the inspector general's findings that was our fundamental mission and that is our most important mission. second, resourcing to meet demand and third transforming the system. we are holding ourselves accountable to high standards of effectiveness and we're supporting our front line officers in their critical counterterrorism mission. we have renewed our focus on security, revised alarm resolution procedures, ceased risky practices, retained the entire workforce and ensure we stay focused. with congress' help we overhauled our approach to training at all levels of the agency including leadership training and established the first ever tsa academy in january 1st of this year with initial course offerings focused on training front line transportation security officers. this intensive training enables tsa to achieve consistency, develop a culture, instill core values and raise performance.
second, we are resourcing to meet demand. with help from congress we halted the reduction of our screening workforce this past year, we are making investments in new technology, converting part-time officers to full-time, shifting screeners and k-9 resources to high volume airports, we have begun hiring federal air marshals consistent with our new operations. we completed a review of personnel policies and practices which led to a number of significant changes and we are designing a human capital management system to address recruitment, development, promotion, assignment and retention. third, we are transforming tsa in fundamental ways to ensure mature enterprise wide approach and an agency prepared to address the real and sustained terrorist threat. we have reinvigorated partnerships with the airlines, airport operators and we're working closely with congress to
address the ongoing security commission demands. we're overhauling management practices across the agency. we conducted an independent review of our acquisition program, we're building a new planning programming budgeting and execution process, we're modernizing among other initiatives our innovation team is taking advantage of existing technology to establish automated lanes at selected checkpoints and as noted, through a public private partnership with delta airlines we have installed two new automated lanes done in nine weeks and became operational in atlanta. initial results show dramatic improvements. we have similar projects planned in the coming months. this year tsa will screen some 742 million people projected. by comparison in 2013 tsa screened 643 million people. so our approach to screening requires a similar transformation and we are meeting that challenge head on. with the support of corporation for our recent reprogramming request we have brought on board 768 new tsa officers, our federal security directors have redeployed behavior detection officers as needed, we placed
additional k-9 teams at our highest volume airports and activated our deployment search to search the airports of greatest need. and we're beginning to see positive results. nationwide over memorial day 99% of passengers waited less than 30 minutes in standard security lines, 93% of passengers waited less than 15 minutes and in pre check lines 93% of passengers waited less than five minutes. over that six-day period -- since last memorial day we screened 10.3 million passengers, a 3% increase over the same period last year and we did so effectively and in a way that protected the system. four factors in my opinion have contributed to our ability to move people more efficiently and effectively through check points, first, the new resources that we receive from congress through the reprogramming and other proactive efforts have allowed us to effectively open more checkpoint lanes at peak
periods to manage the volume. second, we placed a strategic focus on the seven largest airports in the system because if you can prevent problems from happening there you don't have problems that cascade throughout the system. third, we established a national incident command center, this allows us to focus daily on screening, operations, hour by hour at the seven largest airports to look to see what the challenges are as they develop and to move resources in realtime to address those challenges. we have expanded that to the top 20 largest airports and this is a full-time command center which will stay in operation. finally we are conducting daily operational calls from a that command center airport by airport with the airports, airlines and federal security directors to ensure collaboration, information sharing and realtime movement of necessary resources. none of this would have been possible without the tremendous efforts of our front line officers.
they have performed admirably and always deserve our thanks but we are not celebrating and we are not letting up. passenger volume will remain high throughout the summer and we will need to continue to manage resources aggressively. in the short term tsa airlines airports congress and travelers working together can improve the passenger experience while maintaining security. i'd like to thank the airlines and airports for hiring staff to support nonsecurity duties in the airports, but longer term we know we have to continue to right size tsa to ensure we meet the demands placed upon us. we look forward to working with congress to get it right both in terms of staffing and developing new approaches to aviation security. our front line officers are focused on their security mission, it's up to us to ensure that they have what they need. thank you for the opportunity to appear today. thanks for the committee's support and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, admiral neffenger. next witness is mr. john roth the inspector general of the department of homeland security. before joining the office of the inspector general he served as the director of the office of criminal investigations at the food and drug administration. mr. roth.
>> thank you. chairman johnson, ranking member carper and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here to testify this morning. about a year ago i testified before this committee at a hearing about tsa. during that hearing i testified that we remain deeply concerned about tsa's ability to execute its important mission. at the time i testified that tsa's reaction to the vulnerabilities that our audits uncovered reflected tsa's failure to understand the gravity of the situation. since that time we have conducted more audits and released more reports that challenge tsa's management of its programs and operations. however, i believe that we are in a different place now than we were last june. as a result of our audit reports and a vigorous response by dhs, tsa is now for the first time in memory critically assessing its deficiencies in an honest and objective light. tsa's leadership has embraced the oag's oversight rule and appears to be addressing vulnerabilities, however, we should not minimize the significance of the challenges that tsa faces and the risk that failure brings.
the stakes are enormous. nowhere is the asymmetric threat of terrorism more evidence than in the area of aviation security. tsa cannot afford to miss a single genuine threat without catastrophic consequences and yet a terrorist only needs to get it right once. fortunately tsa's response to our most recent testing has been significant. dhs and tsa has instituted a series of changes well before our audit was even final. as part of that effort tsa initiated a tiger team program that resulted in a list of 22 major corrective actions that tsa has taken or is planning to take. we are generally satisfied with the response we have seen at tsa. these efforts have resulted in significant changes to tsa leadership, operations, training and policy. we will continue to monitor tsa's efforts to increase the effectiveness of checkpoint operations and will continue to conduct covert testing. we have a round of covert testing scheduled for this summer and are presently developing the testing protocols. consistent with our obligations on the inspector general act we will report our results to this
committee as well as other committees of jurisdiction. we applaud tsa's effort to use risk based passenger screening such as pre check because it allows tsa to focus on high risk or unknown passengers instead of known vetted passengers who pose less risk to aviation security. however, while reliance on intelligence is necessary, we believe that tsa in the past has overstated the effect of reliance on intelligence and a risk based approach. the hard truth is that the vast majority of times the identities of those who commit terrorist acts are simply unknown to or misjudged by the intelligence community. what this means is that there's no easy substitute for the checkpoint. the checkpoint must necessarily be intelligence driven but the nature of terrorism today means that each and every passenger must be screened in some way. unfortunately tsa made incorrect budget assumptions in 2014 and 2015 about the impact that risk based security would have on its operations.
for the administration's 2016 budget, for example, tsa believed that it could reduce the screener workforce by more than 1600 screeners, full-time employees, stating that risk based security requires fewer resources and would allow tsa to transition to a smaller workforce. likewise in the administration's fy 2015 request tsa asked for a reduction of over 1400 full time screeners based on claimed deficiencies and risk based security. however, our testing and audits found that tsa had been incurring unacceptable risks in its approach and tsa has now limited some of the more dangerous practices -- i'm sorry, eliminated some of the more dangerous practices that we identified. moreover, with he believe that even if tsa had not changed its approach to screening the planned decline in screener workforce was too optimistic. as a result the long lines we are seeing this summer are not mysterious. tsa because of the decisions it made in 2014 have fewer screeners but are facing more passenger volume than ever before. we will continue to examine
tsa's programs and operations and report our results. in addition to the new round of been look -- penetration testing we have been looking at the -- we are in the process of cond t conducting a number of auditions and inspections. including a look at the federal air marshall service, their use of behavioral detection officers and tsa's oversight of the badges that are used to get access to secure parts of the airport. mr. chairman, this concludes my testimony. i welcome any questions that you or other members of the committee ma i have. >> thank you, inspector general roth. our next witness is ms. jennifer grover, ms. grover is the director of homeland security and justice team at the government accountability office, in this position she oversees roles of tsa's programs and operations. ms. grover. >> good morning, chairman johnson, ranking member carper, other senators and staff. in recent weeks travelers, members of congress and others have raised concerns about long airport security lines. as you've both noted this morning one of the challenges inherent in tsa's mission is the tension between taking the time
to do the job right and moving passengers through as efficiently as possible. but first and foremost tsa is responsible for ensuring transportation security. my statement today will focus on two points, first, changes that tsa made to improve the security effectiveness of its expedited screening programs which likely contribute to today's long lines. and second, new information showing that tsa should improve its oversight of screener performance to ensure that screeners are carrying out their task accurately. >> first regarding expedited screening, as we've heard already this morning tsa has made recent changes to tighten security that likely contribute to the long screening lines. in november 2015 tsa modified its risk assessment rules which reduced the number of passengers that were automatically designated as low risk.
at the same time tsa cut back significantly on its use of managed inclusion, which is used to divert nonprechecked passengers into the pre check lanes when they would otherwise be underused. tsa still uses this program at airports where passenger screening k-9s are available but has discontinued its use otherwise. according to tsa these changes were necessary to improve the security of their expedited screening programs and resulted in a 20% decrease in the number of passengers receiving expedited screening. despite the concerns that tsa has made, gao continues to be concerned about the effectiveness of the remaining managed inclusion program of. we await the results of tests that tsa is planning to evaluate the security effectiveness of the program as we recommended in december 2014. my second point is about tsa's oversight of its screener performance. our recent review of screener training and testing showed that
tsa could improve its oversight of the screener's ability to identify prohibited items. tsa conducts tests to monitor screener performance, however, we to under that much of the testing data was missing over multiple years. for example, screeners are regularly tested on their ability to identify images of threat items hidden in carry on baggage and tsa policy requires fsds who are the local tsa officials to submit the data to headquarters. in every year from 2009 through 2014 tsa headquarters did not receive any of this data for a substantial percentage of airports. we recommend that tsa ensure that fsds submit complete image testing results to headquarters as required for airports across the country to confirm that the screener image testing is being carried out as intended and to allow for future national analysis of the data for trends that could inform screener training.
we also found that tsa's covert test results are not reliable. fsds conduct covert testing at airports on a regular basis, but when tsa headquarters brought in a contractor last year to independently perform the same tests the contractor obtained noticeably different results. specifically screeners performed more poorly on the tests conducted by the contractor. tsa is in the process of determining the root cause for the differences, but initial results suggest that fsds may have trouble obtaining on mouse -- anonymous role-players to keep the tests covert. tsa has briefed its fsds on the results and continues to work with the contractor to examine the issue. in conclusion, tsa has taken positive steps to improve the security effectiveness of its expedited screening programs,
though these changes likely contribute to today's long screening lines, yet more work remains for tsa to ensure that screeners are carrying out their tasks accurately. tsa should improve its oversight of screener performance by more effectively screening and monitoring screening testing data and ensuring the reliability of its covert testing data. chairman johnson, ranking member carper this concludes my statement. i look forward to your questions. >> i appreciate the attendance but because we have pretty strong attendance we will limit questions to five minutes and i will start. admiral neffenger, we're putting an awful lot of wait on the expedited screening procedures, tsa pre check, that type thing. what metric do you use or what do we know about what is the faster throughput of that program? >> so the difference between expedited lane and standard lane, roughly -- at peak if you have an efficient team working it you can move 250 people per hour through a pre-check lane,
it's about 150 people through a standard screen it's a significant improvement. ing lane. >> what percent -- because we know the number of people signed up for pre check but we don't -- i don't know how often they travel. what percent of passengers currently are in tsa pre check? >> on a daily basis we move about 30% of the traveling population through pre check lanes. that's a combination of people who have signed up for pre check, people who are in cleared populations like department of defense individuals who hold security clearances and the like, and then a very small piece based upon rules. >> and we're all concerned about that algorithm, correct? it's what inspector general and gao were concerned about that, call that manage inclusion. >> i wouldn't call that manage inclusion. manage inclusion was the practice of taking just unknown people and randomly assigning. we don't do that anymore. these are people who are looked at, they are looked at through a rules-based calculation assigned, a risk value.
>> you're looking at that because we're concerned about that, correct? >> yes, sir. >> i do know there are about 200 adjudicators that are waiting to be approved by tsa. i know in milwaukee people can't sign up and get their application -- they can't apply. there is i think about a 45-day waiting period. where are you at in terms of approving those adjudicators so more people can sign up for tsa pre check. >> we've been working closely with the vendor. we have all the capacity we need to approve it. as long as we get a completed application, you have to fill out the standard form that we all fill out for security clearances. if we get a completed application we can process that application inside of seven days. >> i do know they're waiting at the milwaukee airport. that application office is clogged. >> i'll check on that one in particular. >> i would appreciate that. >> yes, sir. >> where are we at in terms of new technology? you talked about two new
automated lanes in atlanta. can you describe those in greater detail? >> i will. so these are two lanes -- this is existing equipment, this is equipment that i first saw when i visited london heathrow airport last year. essentially if you think of the current system it's a fully manual system, you have to push your bag along a table, you have to engage the conveyor belt at the x-ray machine then you have to pull your bag out the other side. it's a single file system. you are in line behind whoever is in front of you and until their stuff moves through. so first it's an automated conveyor belt, so it's an automated roller system, an automatic bin return, there are five stations at which individuals can stand, you can move five people at a time up to the checkpoint. as you put things in your bin and push it on to the conveyor belt you can cycle right in. there's no waiting for the person in front of you. and then on the other end it has an automatic divert. the bins from rfid technology so they are tracked to the individual, it pulls the person whose bag has been diverted off the line.
bottom line is we are seeing just in the initial phase of operating these two lanes about a 30% increase in throughput at the same level of effectiveness. it also allows us to be much more effective on our end to gao's point. one of the problems that we have is giving realtime right now feedback to an officer on their performance. this does that. it allows us to do realtime performance monitoring. >> are you looking at first better detection technology but -- better than the ait machines or are you just -- >> yes, sir. >> are you really exploring that? >> yes, sir. what we're looking at is the next phase would be to incorporate so-called cat scan technology, computed tomography technology in the checkpoint. we have a couple approved systems that we can put in, we're looking to prototype pilot one of those this summer. this gives us a much more defined ability to see what we're -- it's a system we use in
check baggage and it's a substantial improvement over the x-ray. >> we held a hearing on the dogs at dhs. what i've learned i'm incredibly impressed by the ability, the nose of a dog, there is no technology that can beat it. where are you in terms of trying to beef up the number of k-9 units we have? >> tsa itself operates a little over 300 k-9 teams of which 148 have been trained to do passenger screening. my goal is to get the rest of those trained for passenger screening, that will take about another eight, nine months or so. but i'd like to see a total of about 500 dog teams. that would allow me to address the highest volume airports in a very efficient way. >> i want to be supportive of those efforts. senator carper. >> thanks. admiral he h, i want to go backa
conversation you and i had several weeks ago. there had been long waits, a lot of frustration at o'hare and i urged you to go there and to see for yourself what had happened, what had gone wrong and i want to thank you for going. tell us what you found. tell us what has been done and what lessons that you learned have you been able to take away and to spread to other airports, to other security stations across america? >> thanks for that and thank you for the opportunity to talk about that earlier. there's a couple pieces of that answer. the first is what happened at chicago, that was truly in my opinion and in my investigation it was just a failure to get enough lanes opened in advance of what was an anticipated significant increase in volume for that day. it was sort of the first day of the volume season. we saw about a 13% increase in volume from the previous week and we didn't have enough lanes open and once you're behind it's very challenging to catch up. the first thing we did was to look at what caused that and to make immediate operational changes, opening a checkpoint earlier, making sure that the lanes are fully staffed when you do. we put a new temporary management team in, which i'm pleased to say within 24 hours
really turned that situation around and we haven't seen a repeat of that. what we learned out of that, though, is that you really do need to pay attention to these large hub airports and out of that really came the development of a daily national command center focused specifically on screening operations. we've always focused on our daily operations but you need to really look at screening. checkpoint by checkpoint at the major airports across the country. in this case we decided to focus for the memorial day weekend on the seven largest airports, these are the big multi-hub airports where all the traffic originates essentially. if you start to have problems in one you're going to cascade it across the system. so by doing that by taking the resources that we were able to put into place as a result of the reprogramming, overtime
hours, new hires as well as converting people from part-time to full-time, we dramatically increased the staffing available and then we watch it very carefully on a daily basis to make sure it's applied to the right locations. the lesson learned out of that is that you have to be lacer focused on the actual operations airport by airport at the largest airports and can't let yourself get behind because once you're behind it's like a traffic jam, it's very challenging to clear it out. >> i talked earlier about leadership, the importance of leadership, i think we're blessed with leadership that you provide. talk to us about your ability to put around you the kind of leadership that you need to lead tsa and the flexibility you have to put in place the kind of leadership teams that will better ensure that we don't see the kind of jam ups and confusion that we witnessed at o'hare. >> well, i've made a number of leadership changes over the course of the past year, some just in the past few months. it's critical that you get the right leaders in the right places for the first time ever we now have a chief of operations for tsa. before that we had a series of operational programs that in my opinion were not fully integrated and as a result you
can have a problem that arises without a vision of how to deal with that. so we have a chief of operations now, i have a new deputy administrator and i have a new chief of staff and i have a new head of my screening operations section. those have made a substantial difference and we made some field changes where necessary to ensure that you have the right people. >> good. thank you. the chairman asked about the issue of a pre check contractor staffing backlog. i've heard reports there was a backlog and the folks that vet the tsa pre check applicants there aren't enough of them and a delay as much as 40 days in doing that vetting process and i think i just heard you say earlier in response to our chairman's question that's really a seven-day wait and that's not extraordinary. is that correct? >> i think we've fixed the problem with respect to clearing the contractor's people who do the vetting work. we've got a process in place.
we can handle anybody they give us and turn it around very quickly. we're now working with the contractor on expanding the number of mobile enrollment centers, ensuring that we balance their staffing workload so that they provide staffing to the highest volume of locations. >> very briefly tell us what do we need to do? we are all about doing our job, we want you to do your job, your folks to do their jobs. what do we need to do in our jobs to enable all of you to be more effective. >> that's a great open-ended question. congress has been extremely supportive this past year, you have helped us to grow back some staff that we needed. i do believe that tsa is smaller than it needs to be to meet the demands of the system. it was significantly helpful to get those 1600 people that they were slated to lose back on the books. the tsa academy has been a cultural game changer for us. and more importantly, we have pending the bill that would
allow us to bring on more staff and convert more from part time to full-time. those are very important because that helps us to address the challenge of just getting lanes manned at peak periods. the second real important task is -- i mentioned those two automated lanes. that is an example of the way we need to modernize and bring tsa into the 21st century. and this is technology that exists, i have technology i. t. backbone systems that need to be updated. i need to connect the systems that need to be currently connected. i can't see the health of the systems because i have independent operations that can't be linked together because of cyber security systems. and i need to do a better job of getting realtime performance data on my work force that i can't currently do. so those are the types of things i plan to bring forward to
congress in the coming weeks. i think we have a good strategy, and it will help us raise the concerns that the inspector general and the gao have raised with respect to performance and their work has been critical in determining how we go forward on this. >> in closing, let us know how we can continue to help. >> thank you. >> we'll do questions in in order of arrival. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you for your service, admiral neffenger. and i will say that with the exception of flying on one exception, these folks have been very, very professional. and that is over the last ten years. so thank you very much and the people who serve under you. and i want to talk about the national security. we talked about it before and the need to get it deployed throughout the country. could you talk about -- and i know you're under budget constraints and that may be something we can do as it applies to full body scanners. but can you talk about your
progress on getting full body scanners to the airports that don't have them currently? how is that progress going? >> well, as you know we've identified the numbers that we need to do that. let me preface it and say we need that capability everywhere we need it. we know that terrorist groups are focused on their ability to get into the system. >> weakest link. >> so we have -- we're working through the administration right now, the department of administration to put forward what we hope would be a request that would allow us to purchase the additional equipment that we would need. not every place can actually accept one, but wherever we can put one that is a good goal. >> thank you, for the gao and aig, have you guys done any research into the effectiveness of the full body scanners and whether we should be concerned
in the aprirports that only hav magnatrometers? >> there is a cause for concern, not having an ait in a specific facility. >> do you find the same, jennifer? >> they do different jobs, so they're looking for different things and they have different purposes. so there is a cost if you don't have an ait. >> and administrator neffenger, you talked about a new scanner that you're working on now that will be more effective. which is good for you. i always worry about scanners, i never know if i'm getting radiated or not. do you guys have protections on the parameters that you work with under health situations? >> the scanners that i was referring to are really the ones that are checking the -- check the carry-on baggage. >> yeah, but you said there will be similar technology applied to us. >> oh, no, if i did that -- no,
the technology that we're currently using is non-penetrating, it's just the radio waves bouncing off. we have no intention of using anything else. >> certainly, when i get in an airport i look out and the passengers that went through the magnatrometer or full body scanners, whatever it may be. there are airport personnel, can you tell me if they go through the same procedure as passengers? >> very few go through the same procedures as passengers. this is a population that is already vetted against criminal terrorist data bases. some airports do screening in the area of magnetometers, and they're subject to random screening throughout the day. the passenger screening is more intense -- >> more intense for the people who work there, would you say? >> remember, we know something about these people that have bandaged acce-- badgeed access,
you're doing continuous vetting -- >> so administrator, are they vetted monthly, weekly, daily? >> so you're continuously vetted against the data base and the extended categories that feed that data base. >> so you're comfortable with it, as the administrator of the tsa you're comfortable while we're out there with the employees. that is all i want to know. >> i think there is more work to be done. we need to keep our eye on the insider population. if of yyou have a trusted populn you need to do it in a way that is designed to deter and detect and ideally interrupt. >> so do you keep a record of it? >> we do, if we find it we keep a record.
and contraband items we work with local law enforcement to deal with whatever conflict may result from that. >> and so do you have the ability -- do you have the ability if you find somebody that has contraband items to get them terminated? >> yes, sir, we do. >> thank you. >> senator enzy? >> thank you, mr. chairman, and i thank you for the testimony that you have done. i go home pretty much every weekend to wyoming, which means flying. and i try to get into some businesses there because i find out that any business i'm not familiar with looks pretty simple until i take a look at it. so that is probably what we see as we go through airports, too. but i am worried -- about the management at the security points themselves. not for whether they're stopping the bad stuff or not. but whether they're getting people through the lines.
several times i have found a manager at one of these checkpoints and asked them some questions like why they had three people training one person on how to look at the driver's license, instead of having two of those people helping somewhere else. i also find two check podiums for one line to be able to get through the screening. so they continually are holie h up the line because if they get more people through they get stacked up and can't get through the x-ray machine. and then there will be another line that is not being used with x-rays. so i always wonder why the management doesn't say just open one podium if we're only going to open one line from there. or otherwise take the second person from the podium and help to staff the second line from there. i'm seeing the lines growing and
growing behind me. and -- my result of when i have you're coming through the airport if you'll let us know in advance we make sure you get through security. i want you to know that's not the point. the point is i want my customers to be able to get through the line just as easily. and i want to be able to do that. i've also seen one screener taking three times as long to look at the screen for the item coming through, and calling for somebody to do a bag check on almost everything that comes through. and nobody checks to see if that person is just extra careful or if they're actually finding those kinds of things. also, at dulles i really like the little sign that they have that says how many minutes of wait at the different lines. one of the things that
fascinates me here in d.c. is almost everything is precheck. so the regular line is usually one minute, the precheck line is 20 minutes. now, in casper, wyoming, when you go through they don't have a precheck line and a regular line. but if you have precheck on your ticket they hand you this orange card that you can take through with you. and then you have the same thing -- except for having to remove your computer you have the same thing as if you were in a regular precheck line. and it kind of expedites things. instead of taking regular people and putting them in a precheck line. sometimes maybe we ought to be taking precheck people and put them in a regular line and give them an orange card so they can be expedited. another thing that i hear frequently is why are they so many people that don't appear to have anything to do at the checkpoint. my suggestion, on that is the same as that if they don't have
anything to do, is there some kind of a collection point where they can be out of sight at the moment so people aren't counting how many people are just standing around. then there's a pool to draw on when there's another use for them. so i guess what my question is, besides observations that i've done is there some kind of an incentive system for people to suggest improvement? people that work for tsa to suggest improvements and how does that incentive system work? >> there is. and to your observations, one of the things that i've found, we found is that by focusing, as i said daily on screening operations you start to identify some of the changes maybe you've seen. i suspect those are problems here and there. because we're not seeing that big across the system.
but what we can do is rapidly identify those kinds of problems and then get the best practices out there. so it is about front line leadership, supervisory leadership and moving the measuring performance and moving those measures of good performance to other places. that's been very helpful. we do look for -- i happen to believe that front line people are probably some of the best source of information for how to improve a process. they see it, they live with it every day. in fact when the people who are now operating those new automated lanes down in atlanta first took a look at it, our transportation security officers found more efficient ways to operate it. they instantly saw how much they could do differently as a result of that. i'm happy to give you an idea of how it works and how we put it to use back through the system. >> i appreciate that. my time has expired. i will be submitting some questions on rural airports where they have very few
passengers and some things that could be done there. thank you. >> thank you, senator ernst. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you to senator ayotte for allowing me to jump ahead. you all have an important job. we want to make sure our constituents are traveling comfortably and safely. so thank you for taking on the roles that you have. administer neffenger, it seems as though a lot of the issues that we're seeing, a lot of the underlying problems come from mismanagement of resources. we've heard a number of them today. and so i do think that's something we need to really hone in on. inspector general roth's noted recent audits reflect issues with tsa stewardship of taxpayer dollars. and as a straightforward
example -- this is pretty blatant, but recent media reports revealed that tsa spent tens of thousands on dollars on a mobile application -- maybe you know where i'm going with this -- with the randomizer. and it's an arrow on a screen of an ipad that randomly tells passengers to go to the left or right line. and this is government spending here. this is the epitome of wasteful washington spending. and what we would like to hear is how you will assure us and the american people tsa will take the taxpayer dollars and be responsible stewards of those dollars. >> i was outraged too. that app was used in 2013 and we don't use it anymore. i'm concerned about that. one of the things i did in the
coast guard was work on reforming the entire acquisition projects. insuring the requirements lead to capability and don't buy capability you don't need at a higher price than you should be paying for it. and so when i first got here, within the first month i brought in the defense acquisition university. it looks at how we do government procurement. they conducted a pretty in depth review or a three month period. they made recommendations which we're beginning to put into place and working with the department and our other overseers to do that. i want to see us spend that kind of money. the money we have is critically important to the mission of security that i don't want to see it wasted as we go forward. i've committed to being as open and transparent as i need to be with not only our current expenditures but the things we
have carried forward from the past to insure we don't do that and have invited oversight in to take a hard look at that. i'm fully in your camp on that score. i can't justify some of the actions that were taken in the past, but i can assure you that i will at least under my watch keep them from happening again. >> we can't blame you for previous years' administration. the thoughtful approach you're taking is very much appreciated by many of us. and we hope that we can see that at all levels through the tsa and hope to see continuous improvements. thank you very much, i appreciate it. >> thank you, senator ayotte. >> thank you, chairman. i want to thank you all for being here today. i wanted to ask admiral neffenger, there were some pieces of the reauthorization bill of the faa that recently passed the senate, including an amendment that i was part of to address insider security threats as well as an amendment that is focused on the tsa precheck enhancement act to insure that you have -- are able to expand
that program. are both of those pieces important to get past? >> we're supportive of both of those pieces legislation. they codify things we're already doing. that's important. you want to make sure you put good institutional practices in place for the future. both of those are positive for tsa. >> good. i hope that the house will take up the faa reauthorization. i wanted to ask about admiral you state they're concentrating on improving tsa protocols, pretraining and refocusing the workforce and driving technological improvements. one thing you haven't mentioned as an existing tool is the screening partnership program.
where tsa acts as the oversight entity but not the operator contract ing with security companies. and so what i've heard is that there's long waiting lines to get applications approved and that the tsa attitude doesn't seem to be that supportive of this program. particularly as we look at this program, just to use an example in portsmouth at the international airport, that is an spp airport. and one of 22 airports nationally in the spp, unfortunately, what i've heard from my local airport is that tsa has imposed contracting limitation and the security contractor that limits the flexibility of staff at the airport to respond to dynamic needs. so i guess i would like to know it seems to me when we've seen, for example, the implementation in san francisco of the spp
partnership, are you interested in also looking at a vibrant screening partnership program, and how does the agency see s p, p as a way to consider reducing lines? what is your view of this program? i do have a follow up, because having looked at what the inspector general and also the gao has looked at on this program, i know there's an outstanding issue where tsa has not shared with the congress or with those who are looking at oversight the cost estimates so that we can as policymakers compare the spp programs verses the tsa programs and determine what's the efficient effective way to have security at the airports. >> thanks, senator. when i came into this job i was interested in understanding the spp program better. that's a program that an airport can request to bring in a private contract screening work force the work force is contracted to the federal government through tsa. but they can choose to do so if they like. and i've been committed to
making that as straightforward a process as possible. in fact, we've stream lined significantly the application process over the course of this past year so that they don't have long waits. it's governed by the federal acquisition rules. there's a certain amount of wait that's required for the announcement, bid process and so forth. we have stream lined that significantly. i don't know the problem in portsmouth. i'll look into that for you. i'm not aware of the specifics. >> i appreciate it. >> i will check into that. i would hope it's not the case that there's anybody making it more difficult. we are officially neutral. if an airport wants to go to a private screening contractor we'll work with them. >> one thing i wanted to follow up with ms. grover on, as i understand even though congress has made the request that tsa has not reported cost comparisons between the federal and private screening at spp airports to us as policymakers, is that true?
>> at the time of our report, which was in november 2015, that's what we found. i don't know if tsa has taken actions over this past winter. but we did recommend that they should provide regular information to you about the relative costs. >> to my knowledge it's not been approved. >> we have done that. it now includes the -- whether the so-called imputed costs -- the issue was that we were using just the cost to tsa. but it didn't include, you know, retirement cost and so forth that the rest of the federal government would pick up. now the imputed costs are those that are outside the budget but still costing the taxpayer for an employee at tsa. that's the piece that needed to be added in to give the full burden cost of -- >> are we doing any comparisons on wait lines between the different programs and how -- on this issue of management in terms of efficiency between the two programs? >> we have done that. what we're seeing is comparable across the board.
it has to do with making sure the staffing is in place and the staffing allocations are correct. right now, we're seeing roughly comparable wait times across the whole system. as i said, really focusing on these biggest volume airports has been a dramatic improvement in our ability to manage lines effectively. >> i hope with the information being transmitted to gao we'll have an opportunity to see that analysis as well. thank you. >> thank you. one thing i love about the committee is the members ask great questions, i want to follow up on the spp program. so we talked about cost, we talked about the metrics. is it the exact same process? are those partners -- are they able to do it a different way or do it the exact same way tsa does it? >> so they train with tsa, they train at the tsa academy. they train to same standards and you have a federal security
director, a tsa employee, who managed the contract of that work force or worked with the contractor to manage the work force. so they should be performing to the same standards across the system. >> so there wouldn't be innovation on part of those partners in terms of screening, they're done the exact same way? >> it currently is. >> with that process, they're required to do it the same way. >> there's a set of standards provided you're right, yes, sir. >> senator peters? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'd like to thank our panelists for being here today and for your work. this is obviously, tough work and the fact you have to find a needle in a hay stacked. if the needle gets through the impact could be catastrophic. we appreciate your efforts to keep us safe but also moving through efficiently. we have heard the horror story of chicago, the delays that occurred there and happened on a
few occasions. but i want to get a sense of what's happening around the country. admiral, you talked about your focus on some of the major airports, obviously, we have many, many airports where people are going through. where are we in terms of the overall system of airports? are there a number of airports you're concerned about? how would you break that down in places where we have problems in the whole system? >> i think the positive side of this is that we're not seeing problem -- if you take the top 20 airports which represent about 58% of the daily travel volume, these are the big hub airports and then the lesser hub airports associated with it. the remaining 430 or so are really doing pretty well. when you get stories of long
wait times, it's there. which is why i really wanted to retool our strategic -- approach to this to focus specifically on those airports. making sure you get the resources in there to get ahead of the expected surge of people coming. we get good data from reservation systems and the airlines on who to expect and make sure you get your lanes manned at the time. i think that's the positive side if you can work on those 20 airports you can really for the most part solve the problems in
the whole system. >> speaking of the detroit airport which is one i hear about regularly. i travel through as well. from my personal experience when i have travelled, the volumes have been similar to what i've experienced over the last few years. we still get complaints from my constituents particularly in the morning hours. could you address what's happening in detroit, good and bad and lessons learned? >> detroit is a good example. you have exceptionally strong work force there, very stable work force. we've been able to convert more of those to full time. that's helpful because that immediately reduces attrition. a lot of people want fulltime jobs. when they can't get them then they leave for a full time job. you've got a good management staff in place and have strong relations with the airport. they have good things to say about our folks there. what we've seen is it's a matter of insuring you get a checkpoint opened well in advance of the time you expect the surge of passengers to come in. you work closely with the airline and airports to manage the surge as it's moving from the ticket counter and the lines and you have fully staffed lanes. that's the absolute key to doing that. if you can do that, then you can efficiently move those people through the line and doing the job the way we should. the lesson we learned in detroit
is they got ahead of that. if you noticed over memorial day weekend they had exceptionally good numbers going through there. people moved very efficiently. we didn't have any extended wait times there. >> i appreciate your efforts on acquisition reform and procurement, certainly it was a very disturbing to members of this committee with some of the media reports that occurred last year about the way equipment was not performing the way it was advertised and people were able to get items through. to what extent going forward will we hold contractors who design and build these machines to much higher standards than they've been held to in the past? and they must be held accountable but we can simp -- we simply cannot accept the types of failures that we have seen in the past. >> i spent a lot of time with our major equipment contractors when i first came on board. and we've had a lot of lengthy discussions about performance standards, performance of the equipment, maintenance of the equipment and so forth going forward. i'm very interested in seeing, >> thank you, admiral. >> thank you. >> by the way, when you're connecting in detroit it's great for my fit bit challenges with my wife.
media reports that occurred last year about the way equipment was not performing the way it was advertised and people were able to get items through. to what extent going forward will we hold contractors who design and build these machines to much higher standards than they've been held to in the past? and they must be held accountable but we can simp -- we simply cannot accept the types of failures that we have seen in the past. >> i spent a lot of time with our major equipment contractors when i first came on board. and we've had a lot of lengthy discussions about performance standards, performance of the equipment, maintenance of the equipment and so forth going forward. i'm very interested in seeing, you know, more participation by the private sector in the types of capabilities we need. i think we need more architecture, we need the ability for some of the really
talented innovative minds out there to participate in increasing our ability to do the job more effectively. >> thank you, admiral. >> thank you. >> by the way, when you're connecting in detroit it's great for my fit bit challenges with my wife. a lot of long walks. senator langford. >> not as much as charlotte is a help for that. thank y'all for being here and your testimony today. i think everyone has reiterated the same thing. safety is a primary consideration. we never want there to be a consideration to say let's speed everything up. that was part of our conversations even a year ago when you were going through the confirmation process and the concern with the precheck line precheck had become plus another randomized. it was all about speed. from the ig's report to come back and say we're overly optimistic on staffing so we have a drop in staff and we have an increase in passengers and it's not rocket science to figure out why we have long lines to go through that. i want to make sure everyone is
loud and clear, we're focused on safety. it's not just about speed. there are plenty of people that as we through airports see tsa workers standing around or not in a hurry when people are waiting in long lines. people under the safety and want to see efficiency in the process with that. with that, let me highlight a couple things i want to bring up. we have briefly discussed the innovation that happened in atlanta. and i'd like to be able to talk more how that could be multiplied. delta airlines spent a million dollars researching a better way to do the tsa check line in their home airport in atlanta.
developed a system, partnered with tsa, implemented the system. it's proven to be much faster. for a million dollars at that airport now their check in is much faster. the concern i have is, where do we have more opportunities for the private sector to be able to engage with tsa to help innovate in other areas and be able to not only put private sector folks in places that are non-security and better innovation in the process as well. >> this is where i see the greatest promise going forward. originally, it was patterned after the work that was done in europe to create more automated systems as you move through. in discussions with a number of airports and airlines shortly after i came in, i said -- i was looking for opportunities to partner to do some innovation pilots. originally it was can we do a couple of pilot projects. delta airlines offered to jump in and purchase a couple of these automated systems. this happens to be in use at heathrow airport. they move quickly. you're right, just these first two lanes alone have shown promise in terms of improving
efficiency. a 30% improvement by their own count. i think there's -- that is certainly a critical element of transforming the system. other airlines and airports have come forward and said they want to do the same thing. i put together an innovation project team, which is focused specifically on these public private partnerships, managing it -- you don't want to create a hodgepodge of systems. you want to do something that makes sense. not just to automate the lane but look at the technology that can be added that can lead to electronic gates to let you into a checkpoint that could move the i d check to a kiosk and then you keep the person sterile as they come through.
building that true curb to gate security environment as opposed to just focusing it around the checkpoint. i'm excited we have a pretty good plan going forward. it's mapped out. we're building the architecture with various airlines and airports. we've got about a dozen airports that have come forward along with the airlines that service them to talk about doing this transformation. this is happening over the course of the next six months. happy to provide you with a more detailed brief but i think you'd find it promising. >> i think you would find plenty of people to help you innovate to try to find ways to evaluate how do we move people faster through this spot and still keep the innovation we have. with the technology piece of it it would be the expectation of everyone here as well, early on in tsa's history there were a lot of overpromised made by some manufacturers, we overpurchased in some areas, ended up having in ware houses lots of equipment sitting there unused. we don't want to see that. nor have equipment put in place that says one thing and can't fulfill what it's stated to actually do. we want to make sure that that process stays in place in all of
our equipment. not only purchasing the right amount, having the equipment that can fulfill what it's asked to do. thank you for that. i ask for your continued attention on things like the tsa precheck. in oklahoma we had a computer glitch for a while that you couldn't sign up for tsa precheck for a period of time. there were lots of other ways to be able not only have innovation and getting ppeople through the line but getting people registered for precheck so we can get that background. precheck is really precheck and more people are actually able to go through that process to be able to be checked off. i would appreciate continued attention for that. >> yes, sir. >> i yield back. >> senator portman. >> thank you mr. chairman. admiral great to have you here before us. you're talking to a pretty tough audience because we're are frequent flyers. i go back and forth from ohio a couple week, couple times i guess. we're also all precheck i would
think. when i'm in the precheck line in cincinnati columbus and cleveland it's shorter than dulles. a lot of the questions we're asking you are about not precheck but how do we expedite everybody. by the way, the tsa folks who i deal with every week, are courteous, professional, the vast majority of them. vast majority. i remember being here at a hearing recently that a senator thanks them as they go through. on the other hand they do all work for us as taxpayers. and that customer service side -- >> when i say that people say to me are you rob portman? not yet. >> i go incognito through there. yeah. but you talked about the training and the performance measurement.
i appreciate your leadership. i'm glad you're there. we talked a second ago about what you've done in terms of the training, on the customer service side what are you doing in terms of measuring performance and training? >> you know, that was one of my big concerns when i came in. and in fact, i extend beyond customer service. this is what true public service is all about. providing an important service to the public in a way that treats them with respect and dignity and that recognizes the inherent inconvenient of what you're doing. that's an important thing to do. we built that into our new tsa academy training. all of our new hires now, there's an entire component on what it means to be a public servant. what that public is that you serve. these are people who are your fellow citizens. we -- there's a part of it where think of this as your family members -- assuming you like your family members -- as they're coming through. i hope people are seeing -- we're getting reports that people are seeing a difference among the work force. we've done that through the entire work force. you know, that takes front line leadership to make it work. so we're also working on that first line supervisory
leadership training. >> i appreciate that attitude and approach. i know that's your personal approach. i do think it expedites the process as well. there's a safety aspect to this also in addition to the fact that it is a matter of customer service for the taxpayers who are inconvenienced. this report last june was incredibly troubling. mr. roth hasn't got to ask many questions i may not give you a chance either. i'm going to tell you about your report. 95%. so in 95% of the time tsa was not finding dangerous items, shocking.
this was before your time. we also found that there were 73 individuals employed by the aviation industry that were on the terror watch list. at the time i did questions as part of your confirmation you were going to put things in place and look at the systemic problems. can you give us a report on where you are? mr. roth said you're doing testing and audits, but didn't say what the percentage was. >> i can't talk about percentage of what we're finding in open session. we're better. as you know, one of the biggest concerns i had was to find out why did we have failure rate of that magnitude. and as it turns out, it was really that we were asking the front line work force to do something directly in opposition to what their job was. if their job is to insure something doesn't get past the checkpoint you can't ride them
about moving people faster through a checkpoint. if i put myself in the shoes of a front line officer, they're torn -- told i can't hold things up. we have retrained the whole work force, i think we're significantly better. i hope the testing bears that out. >> mr. roth? >> as i indicated in my testimony we are going to do some covert testing this summer. i will be candid that we have taken a look at some of the red team testing that tsa has done. we think that our testing will be more objective and i think those results will be more accurate. we won't wait and see what happens. >> this committee will be interested in the results of that test and the terror watch list. you're comfortable that's been addressed? >> there are two lists one is the terrorist data base and the other is the tide list. they did not have access to the larger list, it was largely
bureaucratic inertia not on tsa's part. that's been fixed. and we think that tsa now has all the information it needs to be able to adjudicate those things. >> i want to ask you a on the record about cuba. opening an additional airports with screening we would not think is acceptable. there's been travel from afghanistan to cuba and so on. i'll ask questions for the record on that issue. i want to express my concern right now that we be sure those airports are fully vetted and have property security screening in place. >> senator hidencamp. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thanks for stepping up and serving once again your country, admiral. we really appreciate this. we were very glad to confirm
you. i can tell you from this testimony and our dialogue our trust has been well-served. but we have some business that needs to get taken care of. and you know, i kind of tell people occasionally if you've ever been to a penitentiary and have the the warden bring out a box, they have box of handmade weapons, you know, from tooth brushes that have been shaved off to just simply plastic knives that can be used to kill other people. so we have to be careful that we don't overstate, you know, the risk that there is. even though we're looking for traditional weapons, we let people on with knitting needles. so, you know, we sometimes frustrate the public because they look at this in a lens of commonsense. one of the things i want to ask is, whether when you look at the metrics -- that's for anybody here -- and we look at this
transition now to bag fees that has resulted in more people doing carry ones i believe. has that been a problem? is there a way to do prescreen for baggage on carry on that would help the line move quicker, and also would provide greater security for -- in terms of what's in the bags? >> i'll start the answers on that. the first thing is we've been working closely with the airlines to enforce the one plus one rule. it's the case that there is more stuff coming through a checkpoint, more carry on baggage by definition is going to slow things down. the other thing is to encourage people to really double check their bag, pack wisely. prohibited item in a bag of any type causes something to stop for a moment. we encourage people to double check their bags make sure they haven't put anything in there that shouldn't go.
there's very clear information on the website now. it says, you know, what shouldn't go in there. if they have question at all, ask somebody as they come in the airport. i think trying to keep the number of bags coming through to a minimum. the one plus one rule is a must. many airlines are working hard to enforce that. and insuring passengers double check before they come through o. one it's an inconvenience to the individual who forgets they leave something in there. it is true we find a lot of contraband items coming through, a lot of -- we had a phenomenal number of loaded weapons at checkpoints last year. it always astonishes me that people forget they have a weapon in their bag when they come through. that is one of the most important things we can do. we're looking at whether there
are ways to do something different with carry on baggage before you get to a checkpoint. but, again, that's part of the technology improvement we're thinking of. >> i would encourage you to think beyond the box with what could happen with carry on baggage. we're all standing in line with our carry ones, with a couple extra lines they could be screened ahead of time as we're moving through the line. i think that would give you more time to actually check the carry on luggage. you know, i can tell you it's incredibly frustrating when you see someone bring something through that they shouldn't. just a couple weeks ago i had a bottle of water in my back pack, how often do i fly and i've made that mistake. and so you just get -- you don't always know. and so i want to ask, finally about the 2013 gao report noting that tsa could not provide evidence to justify its spot program and that screening of passengers by observation techniques. gao recommended congress should consider the absence of validated evidence for using behavioral indicators to identify threats to aviation security. while assessing the potential
benefits and costs in making future funding decisions for aviation security. obviously, dhs did not concur with the recommendation. have you reviewed the report? since you've been there do you come to the same conclusion as dhs did, department of homeland security did when they had the review? >> i have reviewed the report. there's a couple of elements to this that i think are important. so the first thing i did was to figure out is anybody else doing behavioral detection of some sort? a lot of law enforcement agencies around the world use it. there are other security
agencies that do it. i think there is some value in considering to look at whether behavioral detection is a valuable element to add in. we're looking a at how we can look at the people we've assigned. we're pushing a lot of those people back into security screening duties this summer. we're having them work with k-9 teams. i think there is work to be done on validation of the indicators in the way in which we do behavioral detection. >> i don't want to belabor the point but it can be a valuable tool, there is science to this, are you applying the right science? thank you for the time. >> thank you, senator. just to pick up that's what israel does, correct? >> they do. in fact, a lot of what the israelis are doing has informed what we're doing. we've trained with the israelis on behavioral detection. >> that's a more intensive process?
>> it has more elements to it than we're currently using. >> a number of people are proposing to force airports or airlines to drop the baggage fees to force them, you know, allow more people to check bags. does that really gain us anything? we still have to run those bags through a detection system, correct? >> you know it's hard to know whether it would dramatically change the way things are. i think there's more to be gained by reminding people to minimize their carry on baggage to the one plus one the airlines require. that makes things much smoother. i have concerns about the baggage system's ability to handle a checked bag without modifications the way we're doing it in some airports. so what i've committed to doing with the airlines and airports is working on minimizing the amount of carry on. a lot of that stuff gets gate checked anyhow. i assume it doesn't come through the checkpoint if it's going to be gate checked on the plane and insuring we have the appropriate staff there to handle.
>> you're confirming my suspicion that may not gain us a whole lot. basically -- there's an awful lot to be said for having the passengers with their bag in terms of security as well. without getting into the detail of the failure of the ait machines, has there been any thought given to a machine followed by a metal detector? >> we've looked at that. as we look at the changing of the thinking behind screening. i want to get away from static system. we're looking at systems that integrate that technology. the challenge is you have to be careful because then metal detectors set off people with artificial hips. we're looking at ways to integrate more of the technology.
that's why i want to activate the private sector more effectively than we have. i think there are ways to do this that are smarter. >> generally people that know they're going to set off a detector can talk about it. that would improve security dramatically if people went through both? general roth? >> again, two different machines look for two different kinds of things. my understanding as far as the tsa's protocols now when there is an alarm on the ait that is, for example, suspicious, they have the ability then to run people through. >> again, the -- yeah, i don't want to get into detail, but i've seen videos. there's a real problem in terms of what one machine detects and
the other doesn't. if you go through both i think you would increase the level of security. >> i'll defer to tsa on that. our testing hasn't shown that. >> there's probably -- it gets challenging to talk about this in open session. i'd be happy to sit down with you in closed session to do so. we're looking at those kinds of capabilities. i'm concerned about what can do and the other can't do. the k-9's play a role in here. if i could sit down -- >> we'll talk about that in closed session. again, listen, i truly appreciate, reading the testimony was -- it came across very clear. as general roth talked about, you're doing a great job at really looking at this honestly, admitting you have a problem, assessing what's happened in the agency. so i just want to ask the inspector general. on a scale of one to ten in terms of critical assessment we've got from what to what in terms of improvement? >> we have gone from night to day. i can't put a number on it. we went from a cultural situation where we were fought at every turn to now where they embrace oversight in a way that is a positive method. >> admiral, that's to your
credit. thank you for your service doing that. let me ask you the harder question. that's the first step in solving the problem. how about actual implementation of the solutions? where are we at? let's say we're at one where are we at now on a scale of one to ten? >> we have a number of challenges i will not underestimate it. there's a 23 point plan that tsa has put in place. we're satisfied with the progress they're making. it's by no means complaint. there are issues with regard to tsa as a contract administrator for example. there are issues as far as tsa as a regulator with local airports, how well are they relating the local airports. we have concerns about insider threat. while tsa talked about the recurrent vetting. you are either convicted of certain defenses or you're not. there's not a holistic look at an airport worker who has
unrestricted access to aircraft. they are either sort of convicted or not convicted. if they're not convicted there is no holistic vetting that would occur with federal employees. you know, where we look at a whole range of things before we determine whether they're trustworthy. >> i hate putting words in people's mouths. from the first step admitting we have a problem, we've taken the step. in terms of solving the problem you say we have a long way to go? >> yes. >> i would agree with that. i think we've made substantial progress in just enumerating what the issues are. these are issues that will take time to correct. >> i don't envy you your task. god bless you for your service. senator mccaskill. >> thank you very much, mr.
chairman. i'd like to talk about senior executive service. i understand, mr. neffenger that the bonuses that were paid to the form or assistant manager happened before your watch. but there was $90,000 in bonuses paid to the assistant administrator of the office of security operations. at the same time that all of those tests were failing. that the ig was conducting the tests and showing 67 out of 70 weapons got through. and those bonuses were paid in a way to hide them. they were paid over time. obviously clearly exceeding a 20% cap. i know that you have made changes to make sure that doesn't happen again. this is really a system of this ses service i think and the lack of reform that's occurred with the senior executive service. i liked to point out every time i get a chance on the other hand how senior executive service
began. it began as an idea i think the chairman would agree with you need to get talent in management and government. you would hire competitive with the private sector and these managers would go from agency to agency and get expertise. well that's long since been abandoned. these are people who have burrowed in one agency. that hang out long enough to figure out how to get ses and then they get paid a lot more and this is where we've seen a lot of abuse in terms of bonuses. so let me ask you this, with your reforms, is there any connection to bonuses paid on whether the agency is succeeding? in the private sector the bonus pool changes based on how the company did. and that's not been the way in government. i don't think anybody looking objectively at tsa would say that the bonus pool should be really big. are you now tying bonuses to the performance of the agency and not just performance of the individual? >> it's a combination of both
now. i want to just also preface it by adding i have severely limited both the type and the number of bonuses that can be handed out in an agency. i've put controls on it above me. my concern was that the agency had the ability to independently assign bonuses. i now require department oversight for that and i've asked the department to do that. i'm a strong believer in controls. i believe there's a need to have the ability to give bonuses when people have done good work. you want to keep good people in government. so the notion and the practice of bonuses is not necessarily a bad one. there has to be management carefully, it has to be controlled and appropriate. >> if you look that data, no one could objectively look at the data and say that tsa has high
marks in terms of the things you look at in management, in terms of morale and -- you know, on all the measurements out there. i am hoping -- i think you're trying to do better in that regard. we need a look at ses reform at a larger capacity not just at tsa. i think there's a lot of issues with senior executive service. i have serious concerns related to this is the whistle blower retaliation. i read with interest the article that was published in april about the high level of whistle blower retaliation at tsa. the case that struck me was a man took his case all the way to the supreme court and won. on whistle blower retaliation that he'd been wrongfully fired. he lost ten years, it took him ten years to win. he lost ten years of promotions and tsa said we can't speculate how much he would have been promoted in ten years. they put him back at his other job and frankly he's still getting passed over to this day. i ask you mr. roth how does tsa compare to other dhs components
as far as the number of whittle blower complaints and whistle blower retaliation complaints. >> we haven't done a study of that. that would be interesting to know. i can take that back. >> what can we do about the lost years of salary and compensation and promotion for the time period that someone litigates them being treated unfairly? >> well, the individual you're speaking of did get full back pay for that full ten year period along with the cost of living increases that would have occurred during that time. in addition to other things. he got a sizable payment for back pay. and it included the cost of living increases. i understand that there -- he has ongoing litigation, so it would be inappropriate for me to comment anymore upon that because i want to make sure he gets the appropriate due process.
i am committed to supporting people who bring forward complaints. i'm committed to them being treated fairly. i will not stand for retaliation inside the agency. i understand there have been allegations of that and in one case proof of that in the past. my position is, i don't want to inadvertently bias any action. if you have information, we'll work with the office of special counsel going forward. and more importantly, i will take swift against people if they do something under my watch that indicates they retaliated. >> i would love a response to the people who are laid out in the "new york times" article as to the agency's position on these people and what occurred and how they've been made whole, the woman who was forced to leave her assignment after she complained. there's a number of them in here as you know, it's pretty
damning. and it says it's much higher than, for example, the irs, that has many more employees in terms of the rate of complaints. it went up significantly the number of complaints. so i want you to take a look at that. my time is up. i would say on the other hand i hope you're thinking about every airport -- you got a group of frequent flyers up here. everyone flies hope every weekend. no one uses tsa more than all of us because we're flying twice a week. we see a lot in the airports. i am bombarded with kiosks wanting to sell me sun glasses, pillows, cases for my iphone. i'd love to see a kiosk for precheck. i mean, how simple to put up a kiosk in the airport for someone to sign up for precheck. it wouldn't be that expensive. frankly you could probably staff it with -- especially in the nonpeak hours with people who are waiting for surges in people
coming for flights. i bet you could do it pretty cost effectively at $85 a pop. that's more than a lot of cell phone colors. >> the vendor is looking at dramatically increasing the number of mobile sites just for that reason. >> kiosks, not an office somewhere you've got to go into the bowels of the airport to find it. i'm talking about right there, neon letters with a big smily face. maybe we could sell cell phone covers at the same place. thank you. >> senator carper. >> easy pass is not the same. we have a much different vetting process with easy pass as opposed to precheck. when you come into delaware, we have -- collect tolls on i-95. there is a place easy on the road to stop off if you want to get an easy pass you can. on north south highway that goes down to our beaches it's easy to pull off and get yourself an easy pass. that's a good idea.
thank you for the work you are doing to make tsa better. admiral, i'm struck by apparent success of tsa's efforts to reduce wait times ahead of memorial day holiday. security checkpoint wait times were mostly average. i think 99% of passengers for 30% waiting 15 minutes. take a few minutes and tell us how you and your team were able to cut wait times in such short order. >> four things. first, we got new resources through programming. thousands of overtime hours. we were able to convert people from part time to full time. we moved additional canine units into the largest airports. that was number one. second was standing up -- focusing on the top seven airports primarily looking across top 20 in addition to that. that allows us to address problems at the places where they begin. third was national incident
command center to manage that on a daily basis. checkpoint screening operations and a daily phone call with airport federal security director and airline partners in that airport, airport by airport across top airports. >> i mentioned in my opening statement we included in the appropriations committee out by senate appropriations committee, additional moneys for human resources, personal resources, dogs, canine and maybe infrastructure and technology improvements. do you still believe they are going to be needed? >> absolutely. >> that's all i need. thanks very much. talk to us about the role your employees made. they are on the front lines. they see the stuff every day, talk to people every day. how do you ask them for their -- make sure they are gathered and acted upon. >> we still need to work better at that. what i've tried to do is both anecdotally and more structured solicit information on how best
to dthe job we're doing. we bring them short-term details technology office, work in the test facility. they give us ideas how to improve what we're doing. looking at automated, frontline tso's up and said how would you run this thing. there's a lot of just great tactical knowledge they have in their head on how to do this job better day to day. we're trying to capture that in a much more systematic way. >> one of the ways i always found to improve employee moral, whether federal government or state or some other regard is training. folks in delaware love to come to diagnosis specialized training regardless what their jobs would be. not only better job but sense of self-worth is enhanced as well. i want to encourage you to do
the training. the other thing i wanted to ask is, you talked a little about the range of weapons that we find, your folks find on passengers trying to get onto a plane. i think you actually have an instagram feed. can you take a min and tell us, if you will, speak about some of the dangerous items tsa screeners discover and carry on baggage and checkpoint and the importance of careful and effective security screening in order to identify and in some cases overt threats. >> we've seen a lot of loaded handguns come through checkpoints. last year i think it was somewhere around there. loaded chambers. these are weapons that are dangerous. two weeks ago we had two smoke
grenades, live smoke grenades found in carry on luggage coming through. you get inert items coming through, things that look like grenades but those are a concern, too. you can't tell from a distance. quite a few knives, concealed weapons, canes with knives, swords embedded in them. you name it, somebody is trying to get them through checkpoints, throwing knives, brass knuckles, all sorts of stuff you don't want in an aircraft environment, given the way we know some people have been acting lately. >> last thing i would say, i was elected governor in '92, along with other newly elected governors in '92 we went to new governors school, hosted by national governors association, governor of colorado, and learned a lot. there's three days, faculty with existing governors and spouses,
grizzled veterans i call them. one of the best lessons i learned in those three days was one of the governors said when have you a problem, you face a problem in your state as governor, don't make a one-day problem a one week problem or one month problem or one year problem. own the problem. own the problem. take responsibility for the problem. say this is what we're going to do. we're going to fix the problem. apologize and then do it. the way i watch you perform and head of tsa, i'm reminded of that advice. i don't know that you will ever be a governor but you're certainly prepared with the terrain you've gone through as well. i want to close with preamble of constitution, we're very proud of the constitution, delaware first state that ratified constitution one week entire united states of america. pretty good week. the preamble to the constitution begins with these words, we, the
people of the united states, in order to form a more perfect union. it doesn't say form a perfect union. we didn't. we continue to amend the constitution over time and the ideas always get better. how do we get better. clearly tsa is doing a better job. we're grateful for that. we're anxious to know how we can help make that happen, even more expeditiously. we want to thank our friends at gio and ig's office for the good work doing, wind beneath the wings, keep up the good work. one last thing we're in africa on a family vacation i heard this old african saying, if you want to go fast, travel alone. if you want to go far, travel together. in this instance, so this is team sport, we're going to travel together. i think to the extent we do, we're going to go a longways toward where we need to go. thank you. so other people can get where they need to go. thank you. >> senator, thank you. i want to thank our witnesses, peter neffenger, really, we do
appreciate the enormity of your task, significant challenge. i think you've really shown you've taken some pretty great strides that first step, the problem, worked in a very methodical, very military fashion quite honestly, which i think we all appreciate. inspector roth and miss grover thank you for your contributions as well. thank you for your time, your testimony, you answered our questions. with that the hearing record will remain open 15 days june 22nd 5:00 p.m. submission of statement and questions for the record, this hearing is adjourned.
following a meeting with his security counsel, president obama spoke about the shooting in orlando and the use of radical islam to speak of terrorists. >> for awhile now the main contribution from friends on the other side of the isle made until the fight against isil is to criticize this administration and me for not using the phrase radical islam. that's the key they tell us. we can't be isil unless we call them radical islamists.
when exactly would using this label accomplish? exactly would it change? would it make isil less committed to try to kill americans? would it bring in more alleys? is there a military strategy served by this? the answer is none of the above. calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. this is a political distraction. since before i was president i've been clear about how extremist groups proverbed islam
to justify terrorism. i've repeatedly called on muslim allies at home and around the world to work to reject this twisted interpretation of one of the world's great religions. there's not been a moment in my seven and a half years as president where we have not been able to pursue a strategy because we didn't use the label radical islam. not once has an advisor of mine said man, if we really used that phrase, we're going to turn this whole thing around. not once. so someone seriously thinks that we don't know who we're fighting. if there's anyone out there that thinks we're confused about who our enemies are, that could come
as a surprise to the thousands of terrorists who we've taken off the battle field. if the implication is that those of us up here and the thousands of people around the country and around the world who are working to defeat isil aren't taking the fight seriously, that would come as a surprise to those who spent these last seven and a half years dismantling al qaeda including the men and women in uniform that put their lives at risk and the special forces i ordered to get bin laden and are now on the ground in iraq and syria. they know full well who the enemy is. so do the intelligence and law enforcement officers who spent countless hours disrupting plots. and protecting all americans.
including politicians who tweet. and appear on cable news shows. they know who the nature of the enemy is. so there is no magic phrase is lal. it's a political talking point. it's not a strategy. and the reason i am careful how i describe this threat has nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with actually defeating extremism. groups like isil and al qaeda want to make this war a war between islam and america. or between islam and the west. they want to claim that they are
the true leaders of over a billion muslims around the world who reject their crazy notions. they want us to validate them by implying that they speak for those billion plus people, that they speak for islam. that's their propaganda. that's how they recruit. and if we fall into the trap of painting all muslims with a broad brush and imply that we are at war with an entire religion, then we are doing the terrorist work for them. up until this point, this argument about labels is mostly just been partisan rhetoric and sadly, we've all become accustomed to that kind of
partisanship. even when it involves the fight against these extremist groups, and that kind of y not prevented folks across government from doing their jobs. >> i often say that 50 is not the new 30 and 60 is not the new 40, 50 is the new 50 and it looks good and it's okay and people are to own their age and we ought not be talking about being over 50 as the period of decline. >> sunday night aarp ceo talks about the health and financial challenges older americans face and what aarp is doing to assist them and author of the book disrupt ageing, a bold new path to living your best life at every age. >> the fastest growing age
segment in this country is people over the age of 85 and the second is people over the age of 100. so when these programs were put in place, life expectancy was 67 or 68 and so not only are there more people in the system, but they are living longer and so we have to be able to look at these programs and make meaningful adjustments that is going to be allow people to live with dignity at a much longer period of time. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on cspn's q and a. the food and drug administration has finalized regulations that would make electronic or e cigarettes subject to the same federal rules as traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products. next, a panel talks about the public health implications and possible legal challenges to the fda's proposed rule. the forum was hosted by the american enterprise institute.
good morning. welcome to the aie conference on e cigarettes and public health. what's next after the fda rule? i'm alan, a resident scholar here at aie and i want to welcome those of you in the room, those of you watching on the web cast and those of you watching on c-span. last month, the food and drug administration released a sweeping regulation extending authority to e cigarettes and those not previously regulated by the agency. the fda describes it as a measure to protect public health but many observers argue it will threaten public health with the availability of e cigarettes, a safer alternative to combustible cigarettes. all five of our panelist share concerns about the regulation. because time is short, i will not detail the imminent qualifications but urge you to look through the materials where you can see them set forth in