Remarks by TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger at swear-in ceremony

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Administrator Peter Neffenger
Arlington, Va.
Monday, July 6, 2015
As Delivered

Hi, I’m Peter Neffenger, your new TSA Administrator. I am honored by the President’s trust in me and I look forward to serving in this important leadership position.

I am also deeply honored to join your ranks and to serve you and the American people in securing our nation’s transportation systems.

You perform an incredibly important and difficult mission every day, one that demands disciplined performance and constant vigilance while sustaining a high level of professionalism and respect for the public we serve. I want you to know that you have my full support and confidence.

My top priority as Administrator of TSA is to protect our nation’s transportation systems and to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce. This is the mission of TSA. We are a security organization. Our job is to deter, detect and protect. And every member of our team must always be laser-focused on this core mission. As your new Administrator, I will commit myself to ensuring that we continue to pursue our vision of an effective, high performing counterterrorism organization guided by a risk-based strategy, using a multi-layered, intelligence-driven approach. 

And, most important, I will lead with the values that define TSA – integrity, innovation, and team spirit. I ask each of you to join me in committing to these core values. We must commit ourselves to performing our duties with integrity, discipline and professionalism. 

Let me tell you why this is so important. Nearly 14 years after the attacks of 9/11, we still face threats from terrorist groups and homegrown extremists who are inspired by messages of hatred and violence. Today the terrorist threat is more decentralized, diffuse and complex than ever before. Today’s terrorists have even publicized their instruction manual and are calling for people to use it. Most important to us, our enemies view transportation systems as targets, particularly aviation. 

These threats are persistent, they are growing, and they are our most pressing challenge. Our enemies will continually adapt to try to defeat us, so must we continually innovate to defeat them. Each of us must approach every task with integrity. Team spirit demands that we serve our mission above all else. To that end, I will ensure that each of us at TSA Headquarters serves and supports the officers, inspectors, marshals, employees and private sector partners who are on the front lines of TSA each and every day. 

In preparation for this job I’ve had a chance to talk with quite a few of you and I’ve heard your concerns and listened to your ideas. You have told me how much you care about our mission and I’ve seen that in your faces. You have asked me to support you in accomplishing our mission.

Well, I want you to know that I’ve heard you and I promise you that I will place our mission first and I will ensure that each of you is trained, developed and supported so that you can put the mission first. Our culture, morale and effectiveness are a direct result of consistent and career-long training, recognition and accountability, and it is my highest priority to deliver on these for each of you, and for our entire agency. And I promise you I will continue to listen to you.

We will develop the right measures of effectiveness to drive a continuous focus on security. We will build a culture of operational adaptation, one that constantly questions assumptions, plans and processes, and is able to rapidly field new operating concepts, performance standards and capabilities. 

Finally, we will deliver an effective security system and sustain the confidence of the traveling public through competence, disciplined performance and professionalism. 

Our mission is tough. Protecting the public and preserving the liberties we cherish are tough. Still, I know that each of you is up to the task and I am confident in our ability to succeed. 

As I join your team and take on the privilege of serving as your Administrator, know that I am here to support you. Thank you for the hard and challenging work that you do every day. And thank you for serving our nation. Thank you very much.