A week ago Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator John Pistole made a bold public statement regarding his decision to not review further airport applications to participate in the Screening Partnership Program, a decision that is a potential conflict with an Act of Congress. As of today it appears that a number of the TSA’s upper echelons key people were not consulted or notified of Pistole’s decision, or made aware of his statements, before they were made known to the public. Pistole’s lack of communication with upper level key people has caused those in positions of power just beneath Admin Pistole to become upset with their boss … and in one case question his motives.
The ramifications of Pistole’s comments are significant as they go against a key piece of legislation that has shaped the current stated of aviation security in the United States, including the creation of the TSA, Public Law 107-71 and the section pertaining the “Security Screening Opt-Out Program, found on page 16, under § 44920.
Administrator Pistole’s remarks that “I examined the contractor screening program and decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports, as I do not see any clear or substantial advantage to do so at this time,” have potential legal and political consequences for not only the TSA, but those within the agency now charged with carrying out what Admin Pistole has set in motion. Admin Pistole must rely on his chain of command to not only carry out his orders, but also explain them and handle situations that will arise in regard to his decisions. If indeed Admin Pistole did not seek out the consultation of his upper level management staff it shows a clear disrespect for those that fall under his chain of command.
The TSA needed a strong leader to help guide the flagging agency. Admin Pistole has the experience and credentials to lead the agency strongly into the future … however his own ambitions may be impeding his ability to bring the agency to the standard it needs to set. A standard where the TSA’s mission and effectiveness come before all else.
The TSA has been at a cross roads for sometime now in the direction the agency would take … and it appears that Administrator Pistole has chosen the wrong fork in the road. Hopefully the agency can find its way to the right path so the TSA can successfully fulfill the mission it was created to serve.