The TSA Gets A New Boss : Will We See A New TSA?

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23/01/2009 – The TSA Gets A New Boss : Will We See A New TSA?

On the 20th of January 2009, with the swearing in of a new United States President, Kip Hawley bid his position at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) ‘Chief’ farewell.

Kip Hawley caught a lot of flak in his tenure as the head of the TSA.   As the ranking administrator he could have done things very differently, however he was charged with overseeing an agency that was hastily created, has a high turn over in staff and that has a horrible public relations record.  This is a challenging task, and many see his departure as the time to usher in a ‘new’ TSA.

Can the 20th of January 2009 be the day that signaled the dawn of a new TSA?

The new Acting Administrator for the TSA is Gale RossidesRossides was part of the original half dozen, handpicked, Federal Executives who created the TSA in 2002.   While this may seem like an unlikely candidate to set in motion a change in how the TSA operates, I am hopefully that the TSA will be overhauled.

Rossides is inheriting a broken agency.   The TSA’s public interface with flyers can often best be described as caustic.  TSA Agents are often standoffish with flyers; the inconsistency of rules and regulations from not only airport to airport, but often check point to check point, is frustrating; the consistent problem of theft from checked baggage; the lack of proper security monitoring of checked baggage; and the series of public relations disasters since the agencies inception can be a significant challenge for Rossides.

I know there are better, friendlier and more effective methods of securing airports and maintaining a high level of security for the flying public.  Some of these methods can be easily implemented; others will take time, money and will under-go a teething period.

While the role of the TSA is best known to prevent further aviation terrorist attacks, they also play a role every day in protecting flyers.  TSA agents often stop travelers transporting drugs, ‘non-terrorist’ weapons, and they have captured people on the run from law enforcement and stopped other crimes from occurring.   I have met some of the worst TSA agents you could imagine and luckily I have met some of the best TSA agents you could imagine (the TSA Officers at HVN have twice run to the gate to get US Airways to hold a flight for me when I was late, how can you beat that?).

It is clear the TSA needs more than a cosmetic face lift. The agency needs to be reshaped from the ground up and there are some very hard choices that need to be made.  Given Rossides’ history, and participation in helping overhaul the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF),I am optimistic that over the next year we will begin to see a ‘New TSA.’

Will the ‘New TSA’ be a more effective and better-trained force? Only time will tell.

Ms. Rossides…welcome to your new position, I hope to see you flourish.

Happy Flying!



  1. would you have Ms Rossides email-Stephen?

    Over the course of 10 years-I -a budget tourist- and erstwhile Americanophile-have been cleared for military bases-the White House-The Pentagon-etc etc—-

    only when I was leaving Orlando MCO-to go back to Washington DC-did a rogue screener turn my sentiment for ‘professional America’ on it’s head.

    if you have an email-I can send you 1200 words or more on my continuing suffering at the hand of one rogue TSA employee-whom all agencies seemingly now -disown.

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