Moving Beyond the First Five Years: How TSA Will Continue to Enhance Security


April 15, 2008

Thank you, Chairwoman Jackson-Lee, Ranking Member Lungren, and members of the Subcommittee. I am pleased to appear before you to discuss the first five years of TSA with DHS and to look forward to the next five years.

Two weeks ago today, Kevin Brown walked into the Orlando Airport. A Behavior Detection Manager, in plainclothes, saw Mr. Brown and he saw a few things that caught his interest as a trained behavior specialist. Along with additional BDOs [Behavior Detection Officers], they intercepted his checked baggage before the bags went to screening. When they searched his bags, they found everything you need to build a bomb.

Brown didn't make it to the checkpoint and his bags never left the lobby. He was intercepted and was taken into custody by the Orlando police, searched at curbside by the Orange County bomb squad and turned over to the FBI.

This is layered security in action. It is an excellent example of TSA's partnership with law enforcement, and it is part of our new paradigm to recognize and use the skill of our workforce, to add layers of security, to go on offense. How do we do that? There are three prongs to our approach to upgrade security: people, technology, and process.

We call it Checkpoint Evolution because we do not have a game-changing technology that will, at once, take us back to pre-9/11 convenience. By upgrading what we do have—our significant people and technology resources—coupled with process innovation, we can get the security result we need with a lot less hassle for passengers.

Recently TSA announced a prototype checkpoint that will shortly be tested in Baltimore. You will see there an integrated security checkpoint bringing together people, technology, and better process. You will first notice a new look but the most significant piece involves our Officers. The checkpoint configuration and technology will support a team approach that will be calmer and more conducive to smart security. It all starts with our people—they are our biggest investment and if we motivate and prepare them to be their best—we will, in fact, improve TSA security and take it to a new, higher level.

This Committee has been forward-leaning in its commitment to front-line training and so is TSA. We have begun a top-to-bottom re-training of our workforce. I, and every TSO working at a checkpoint, will undergo this year an extensive twelve hour retraining, bringing together the latest thinking from intelligence, from explosives detection, and in human factors that can effect security. This will give us the tools to go on offense, to make security smarter and harder to beat. It is not about completing a checklist. It is about stopping terrorist plots.

On the technology front of Checkpoint Evolution, we will be upgrading the technology you see at passenger checkpoints. For quick, less-intrusive, highly effective screening of what's carried on the person, Whole Body Imaging will be deployed. This week, in fact: to JFK and LAX, where we will begin operating Millimeter Wave technology. In addition we will be purchasing at least 30 more of the machines for deployment at airports this year.

I have previously said that we are deploying 250 multi-view Advanced X-ray machines by mid-year and today I am pleased to announce our plan to purchase and deploy another 580 units using FY07 Supplemental and FY08 annual appropriations. Multi-view Advanced X-ray is a powerful platform on which to build additional software algorithms as new detection technologies become available, including for liquids. Six hundred of these new AT X-ray machines are going to be deployed by year end.

TSA's strategy is to start with intelligence, partner with law enforcement, industry partners, and the public, and use security measures that are flexible, widely deployable, mobile, and layered to cover the inevitable gaps that exist or develop in our complex, open transportation network. We cannot afford to spend all our energy looking for listed items while standing behind the magnetometer. We have to look up from the checklist and be proactive, engaged in really evaluating risk.

TSOs, and all of us at TSA, are focused not only on what we already know, but also on being alert for clues of something new, different, and dangerous.

That is the challenge of the next five years, to execute against known threats but also to have the courage and imagination to put measures in place now that will disrupt whatever may come at us. Thank you.

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