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Transportation Security Administration

From the Administrator: A Look Back at My First Year

Friday, August 10, 2018
David Pekoske  TSA Administrator

One year ago today I was given the honor of joining and leading the men and women of the Transportation Security Administration. I continue to be inspired by their skill and dedication every day.

My first year at TSA has been a busy one – in fact – by the numbers it has been the busiest in TSA history. We have had extremely busy spring and summer travel periods and this year we are on track to screen over 800 million passengers and crew, plus all of their checked and carry-on bags. That’s compared to the 771 million passengers and crew screened last year.

But we’re not just working harder, we are working smarter and more strategically. In the spring we released the TSA strategy, which we designed to guide us from now until TSA’s 25th anniversary in 2026. The TSA strategy is based on a concept that sounds simple: For TSA to continue to succeed in our shared security mission we cannot afford to focus only on addressing the threat where it is today, we must also focus on our capabilities for the future.

The strategy outlines three main strategic priorities that we are pursuing daily.

We are improving security and safeguarding the transportation system…

…And raising the baseline of global aviation security. In partnership with airports, airlines, and international partners, we have implemented enhanced security measures for both domestic and international flights that improve and increase security worldwide.

Today also marks the day in 2006 when the United States and United Kingdom foiled a plot to blow up U.S. bound commercial airliners using liquid explosives hidden in carry-on bags. This plot was the genesis of TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule that limits the amount liquids, aerosols and gels allowed in carry-on baggage. TSA’s response to this threat illustrates just how fast, agile, and collaborative we can be in the face of an imminent threat.

Then and now our security efforts remain focused on staying ahead of those trying to do us harm and ensuring travelers get to their destination safely.

In addition to our core aviation passenger screening mission, we continue to oversee the security of the surface transportation system, where threats to soft targets and public areas persist and evolve. Every day, we collaborate closely with our industry partners to assess vulnerabilities and analyze security programs across the surface sector, from pipelines, to mass transit to over-the-road bus entities.

David Pekoske TSA Administrator and CT Scanner

We are accelerating action…

…And we are leading security innovation. The threat to aviation is constantly evolving, so we’ve been focused on developing the next generation state-of-the-art technology and deploying it faster. Our Innovation Task Force, in partnership with industry, has accelerated our efforts to advance security technology.

This year we worked with our airport and airline partners to expand the use and testing of Computed Tomography X-ray machines in numerous airports and recently announced our plans to expand to more airports in 2019. Computed Tomography is great for passengers and great for security. It makes it easier for TSA officers to identify potential threats and in the future may eliminate the need for passengers to remove liquids and electronics for carry-on passenger baggage screening.

TSA has also continued to work with airport and airline partners to deploy automated screening lanes to more airports. The automated screening lanes are designed to improve the checkpoint screening process for travelers including the ability for multiple passengers to divest their belongings at the same time. To date, there are over 140 lanes at over a dozen airports, with more scheduled for deployment this year.

We have also made great strides in the deployment of biometric and identity technology to improve security and strengthen the identification process. Of these efforts, we continue to test and expand the use of credential authentication technology (CAT), which allows us to validate the security features of a passenger’s photo ID and match the information from the ID against our Secure Flight vetting system. Testing of the CAT started with 17 systems at seven airports and has expanded to 42 active systems at 13 airports.

TSA has also conducted tests of facial recognition technology at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Further testing, in collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), will continue throughout the month of August at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. During this period, we will use CBP’s passenger vetting systems to match facial images of international outbound passengers to photos in DHS systems, such as photos obtained from passports or visa applications or taken at time of entry to the U.S., to verify a passenger’s identity.

We are committing to people…

This summer we announced a new comprehensive career progression plan for our frontline employees to foster career growth. I am committed to investing in our transportation security officers by giving them the tools they need to grow in their TSA careers.

I believe that an effective workforce must be properly trained, coached and evaluated, and these are key in preserving a motivated and skilled workforce dedicated to executing our mission of protecting the traveling public.

Partnership is the key

In my time at TSA I have been working to instill the belief, both inside and outside the agency, that security is our common objective. It is an objective that we can best achieve through a shared and complementary effort between government, industry, and you – the public.

Since TSA’s inception, we have lived by the motto “Not on My Watch.” This has served as a powerful call to action for TSA. But it is my hope to encourage an even stronger relationship between those outside and within TSA, by acknowledging everyone’s role in our shared security mission. So I asked you to join TSA in adopting and embracing a new creed: Not on Our Watch.

There is a persistent threat to our transportation system, and together we all have a role in protecting our homeland.

I look forward to continuing to serve you and our great nation, alongside the dedicated men and women of TSA.

David Pekoske

TSA Administrator


Submitted by Max Yost on

I have a naive hope that you will actually engage in a dialog on this blog with the public you serve. The president who appointed you has no problem at all communicating with his constituents on social media. Perhaps you will follow the example of your boss.

Here's a couple of topics for starters. You've got time to actually answer because everybody in DC knows that, in August, everyone is at Ocean City.

1. Please explain the value of Quiet Skies and how you believe it does not infringe on our rights found in the 1st, 4th and 5th Amendments. Please explain to us why this is not really just the SPOT program that was de-funded.

2. Please explain why you insist on sexually assaulting passengers on a daily basis?

3. Why do your ID checking screeners interrogate children in front of their parent(s) by demanding they state their names? (I have personally witnessed this happen.)

4. Why do your screeners repeatedly harasses and humiliate the elderly, those who are physically and/or intellectually handicapped or those wearing life-saving medical devices?

5. Why do you allow several of your employees to block citizens' access to official TSA social media sites in direct violation of the 1st Amendment and in direct violation of the U.S. District Court ruling in Davison vs Loudoun County Board of Supervisors?

I'm sure that others will want to add their own questions. We look forward to your answers.

Submitted by Luz Padro on

I am letting you know On August 4th I took a fright from San Diego CA at 7:30 to San Antonio TX. My bag (claim # 0526741700) was open. my bags have been open many times in my travels but nothing has ever been missing. This time a mug from Hawaii was missing. So sorry to say. you have a thief working for you. He or she will make a mistake one day until then keep up the great work.

Submitted by Liquid "plot" on

You don't mention that the "liquid plotters" didn't actually have a liquid explosive, that no such explosive stable enough to be carried onto a plane exists, that the "liquid plotters" didn't even have passports, let alone airplane tickets, and that over a decade after this nonevent you still can't point to one single piece of independent peer-reviewed research that supports the policy you put into place.

Why is lying SOP at TSA?

And of course no mention of the sexual assaults your poorly trained, unprofessional screeners inflict on a daily basis thanks to your use of slow, invasive, ineffective scanning technology that has a 100% false positive rate.

Do you think because you were appointed by Donald Trump that means it's OK to grope people?

Shame on you and shame on your disgusting, pathetic excuse for an agency. I hope you get the full TSA pat down someday.

Submitted by RB on

"There is a persistent threat to our transportation system,........."

Malarky! How about some evidence proving this statement? I'll wait.

And again with the so-called liquid bomb plot. Anyone who has paid attention the least tiny bit, leaves out TSA, knows there was no bomb, no real plot, and a strong likelihood that no actual plot would develop. Yet TSA confiscates harmless LGA's and proves those items are harmless by tossing them in common rubbish bins.

The TSA Automatic Screening Lanes are a bad joke. On the entrance people load one bin at a time and if more than one bin is needed, almost guaranteed since laptops require their on bin, results in the travelers property being seperated by other peoples bins and out of view of the traveler. Then the bins stack up on the exit side since no mechanism is in place to return the bins to the feed system. Just another example of TSA failing the 3P's, Prior Proper Planning. I'd say I was surprised but having observed the continuous failures of TSA I'd be surprised if TSA didn't botch things. Talk about the Midas Touch in Reverse!

Pekoske talks about the dedicated men and women of TSA. I havev to ask, dedicated to what, FAILURE?

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"...oday also marks the day in 2006 when the United States and United Kingdom foiled a plot to blow up U.S. bound commercial airliners using liquid explosives hidden in carry-on bags. This plot was the genesis of TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule that limits the amount liquids, aerosols and gels allowed in carry-on baggage. TSA’s response to this threat illustrates just how fast, agile, and collaborative we can be in the face of an imminent threat."

Ha! You, Mr Pekoske, are incredibly funny!

The 'plot' you foiled was never a viable threat, still isn't. Your 3-1-1 nonsense that you created in response to that 'plot' won't prevent the threat even if it ever becomes a viable threat. And you have a very funny definition of fast, of agile, and you have no idea what collaborative really means.

And just so the cheerleaders who get their comments approved first can't say I am simply being a negative nelly allow me to explain the flaws in your 3-1-1 silliness:

Liquids could be dangerous so they can't go through security. These bottles do not contain anything dangerous so we can simply throw them into the trash bin.

If this contains x amount of ounces it could be dangerous so we can't allow things through the check point that have X amount or more of liquid or gel. If you separate that same dangerous liquid into multiple containers that are less than x amount of ounces they can go through the check point.

So the 'plot' you foiled, that you used as the basis for an entirely new bit of theater, wouldn't have stopped the threat that you are creating the new procedures for.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Perhaps you may want to look forward and see a disgusting bunch of people called TSA "Officers", people who don't deserve, nor have earned that title.

Again evidence of another pervert cloaked in the uniform of TSA!

"The screener had Frey, who has metal prosthetics in his neck, lift his shirt up to his head, and ignored Frey’s request for a private search.

The worker then put his hands under Frey’s shorts and was “roughly touching” his genitals for so long, Frey’s then 8-year-old daughter exclaimed, “Look, they are touching Daddy’s penis!”"

The screener had the man lift his shirt and fondled the mans penis!

And TSA wonders why the public doesn't trust or respect TSA employees.

Crickets from TSA!😫

Submitted by "Quiet Skies" on

Explain why you're stalking innocent people, you creep.

Submitted by Thomas Taylor on

This blog post is ironic considering SEA-TAC just had a plane stolen.

Submitted by The Original "RB" on

Mr. TSA Administrator, take off your rose colored glasses and get out and take an honest look at TSA. Do this in a way that no one knows who you are and test your employees and actually see how things actually happen when they don't know your the Big Man in Charge. I think it will be an eye opening experience. Throw on a back brace like I had to wear for several months and go through TSA. Do things to see how TSA screeners respond to the unexpected. You'll quickly find out that things aren't all hunky dory at TSA.

Several years ago on this very blog the suggestion of a Secret Shopper type program for TSA was made. Of course anything coming from the public is unacceptable but it was as good idea then as it is now. These shoppersneed to be people who are not known to the screeners and staff at the airports.

I think you will find a core group of TSA employees who do not meet your claimed expectations. I believe you will find a hostile workforce, hostile to the very people they are serving. I wished things were all a big happy "Mister Roger's Neighborhood" at TSA but that is a fallacy. A fallacy told by your senior level employees.

TSA treats the average traveler just ok, but when anything happens that is the least bit out of the norm things go south in a hurry all at the hands of TSA.

So do yourself a favor, stop believing every little fairy tale your staff feeds you. Try a long proven management style called "Management by Walking Around". I think you will have your eyes opened about how bad it really is.

Submitted by John G Brokopp... on

Congratulations on your first as the administrator of TSA. Thank you for your pro-active approach with the workforce, and special thanks for our new Core Values: Integrity, Respect, Commitment. I believe replacing Innovation and Team Spirit with Respect and Commitment has a much greater meaning and impact with us, especially when it comes to instilling the importance of these Core Values during New Hire training.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

How many times have you been sexually assaulted by TSA screeners? Do you have any compassion at all for the emotional and psychological damage done to passengers being forced to endure sexual assault? Does TSA do any psychological testing on screeners who "pat down" passengers to ensure that they are not individuals who take pleasure from groping passengers of the same sex?

Submitted by Quiet Skies Here on

I guess"quiet skies" doesn't just refer to your illegal surveillance and stalking of American citizens. Or is there a good reason Curtis Burns and West Coper haven't been releasing comments on this post?

Submitted by Seven Days Make... on

I guess if all the reactions to a blog post were people talking about how your agency sexually assaults and stalks people, I'd be too gutless to post comments, too!

Submitted by "Patdowns" on

Have you ever received the new "enhanced" tsa patdown, which is indistinguishable from sexual assault?