Coast Guard admiral to head TSA

A vice-admiral from the Coast Guard will soon become the new head of the Transportation Security Administration, as confirmed by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Admiral Peter V. Neffenger, the Vice-Commandant for the USCG, was approved by the Committee in a hearing this morning. His nomination by the President back in late April will be considered for 30 days before it goes before a full Senate vote.

His nomination comes as the security agency has received serious scrutiny over several reports, including one by the Government Accountability Office, have been released detailing major issues regarding problems from within. These include, but are not limited to major security lapses at airports (TSA officers had recently failed 67 out of 70 tests involving fake weapons) and low morale among its 46,000 officers. These issues were the full focus of this morning’s hearings, as the admiral faced numerous questions from the Committee about his opinions on the issues and what he would do should he be confirmed by the Senate. Upon asked if he believed the TSA’s mission was being accomplished, Neffenger’s response was mixed. He believed that “I don't know how effective it is,” stating that he will know much more once he takes control. However, when it was mentioned that there are 73 airport workers who have links to terrorism, Neffenger stated, “Clearly, there is a problem with people who are being screened.”

The rest of the time spent was on the admiral’s qualifications for the position, as well as his work in the Coast Guard. When questioned about the TSA’s morale problems compared to the USCG, Neffenger believed the problem was a matter of administration. He believes it needs “a leadership that invests in the mission… You have to value that workplace, and you have to support that workforce.”

Adm. Neffenger will replace the previous administrator, John Pistole, who retired in December of last year.