4/1/2010 – The TSA’s Lack Of Leadership & The Saga of Not Having A Boss
At the start of 2009 I wrote about the installation of Gale Rossides as the Acting Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), followed up discussing the TSA’s need for a permanent Administrator.
Given the significant lapses in the TSA’s ability to maintain order within the agency, the Administration must appoint an Administrator Since the TSA’s formation in 2002 the agency has been lead by four Administrator and an Acting Administrator, this consistent turn over of leadership leaves the agency with little accountability during its most vital years of formation.
Forgetting the missteps of the TSA since its formation, in the past month alone the agency has been faced with crisis after crisis, from the publishing of the TSA’s Standard Operating Procedures on a Federal Government website; the ‘leak’ of its Christmas Day Security Directive; its mishandling of the investigation of the leaked Security Directive; a publicized security breach at Newark’s Liberty International Airport; as well as other unrelated events outside of their control, such as a would-be bomber boarding Delta Air Lines Flight NW253 on Christmas.
Voice mail “greeting” messages from TSA Public Affairs Officers sound stressed due to being inundated with phone calls.
The current nominee for TSA Administrator Errol Southers came under fire for misleading Congress regarding his unauthorized use of a criminal database while with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, however he also set the record straight regarding an incident 22 years ago. Was Southers use of the criminal database a lapse in judgment? Yes. It is a spot on his career? Yes. Is it a reason to disqualify this seasoned veteran and expert on counter terrorism and transportation security expert from the role of TSA Administrator? No.
Southers career and experience is outstanding. Compared to the ethical lapses of many elected officials in the Congress and Senate, Souther’s lapse in judgment is the equivalent to driving 85mph in a 65mph zone on an empty highway at 3:00am.
Without a strong and experienced leader who is able to enter the agency rapidly, the TSA will remain like a ship without a rudder headed for the pier at full speed.