Last updated: 04:15 PM ET, Wed July 29 2015

TSA Administrator Makes Closing Airport Security Gaps Top Priority

Impacting Travel | Transportation Security Administration | Patrick Clarke | July 29, 2015

TSA Administrator Makes Closing Airport Security Gaps Top Priority

In the wake of a shocking and disconcerting security lapse uncovered last month, newly-sworn in Transportation Security Administration leader Peter Neffenger has made his priorities clear.

Appearing in front of a congressional panel this week, Neffenger said his "highest priority is to ensure solutions to the recent covert testing failures," Reuters reported.

The 59-year-old, who came into his new role July 4 — one month after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson reassigned the agency's acting administrator — told the panel that TSA employees working the front lines would be properly trained to detect the same banned items that it made past officers more than 95 percent of the time during a recent undercover investigation. 

House Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul described the results of the investigation, in which undercover agents were successful in getting banned items, including weapons and explosives past TSA in 67 of 70 attempts, as an "enormous failure."

"These findings shatter pubic confidence," he said via Reuters. 

Neffenger specified that front-line officers would be sufficiently trained to avoid similar oversights by September. 

In addition to ramped up training, Neffenger told the panel that he plans to focus on improving expedited screening procedures and tightening up oversight of security badges, something else the TSA has come under fire for of late.

Doing so won't be easy, though, as the administration struggles to battle "very low morale and an extremely high turnover rate," in the words of House Homeland Security Committee senior Democrat Bennie Thompson via Reuters. 


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