The Transportation Security Administration’s head of security, Kelly Hoggan, was removed from his position in late may. The decision was not the result of any wrongdoing, but was made as TSA seeks to take a different approach to its operations.
Hoggan’s removal came at a time when many travelers, airlines, and airport officials are fed up with the long wait times at TSA checkpoints, which the administration warned will likely grow longer this summer. TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said he’s searching for another position to suit Hoggan’s talents within the administration.
“Given the specifics of daily volume, I felt it was important to have a different management approach going forward than we’ve had in the past,” Neffenger said. Neffenger hopes that the administration will be able to develop a system that moves travelers through security checkpoints more efficiently, though speed had been the main focus in the past.
With this new goal in mind for the administration, Neffenger appointed Darby LaJoye, who was previously second in command of the Office of Security Operations, as the office’s acting chief.
The long waits and inefficient screening systems are not the only cause for concern with the TSA. Some lawmakers criticized TSA’s decision to pay officers bonuses when they routinely failed to find weapons at checkpoints. Reportedly, the administration’s top officials received healthy bonuses, while those agents who complained about the unfair raise system were reprimanded.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, commented on Hoggan’s $90,000 bonus over a 13-month period. “Those bonuses were given to somebody who oversees a part of the operation that was in total failure,” Chaffetz said.
Neffenger explained that these large bonuses were a part of the administration’s operations long before he took over in July 2015. Neffenger called the bonuses an institutional failure rather than one person’s mistake.
“I found them unacceptable and I found them unsupportable, so I stopped them,” Neffenger said about the bonuses. “Even if within legal bounds, it’s not justifiable.”
Several major airports in the US have experienced cuts in TSA personnel, adding to wait times and frustration. Some cases, like Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, are so severe that security wait times have prevented travelers from catching their flights, leaving them stranded in the airports.
LaJoye, who will replace Hoggan, has served as the federal security officer at some of the nation’s largest airports, including JFK and LAX. “He has a tremendous amount of experience directing and managing the workforce. He brings a lot of talent and capability to the table,” Neffenger said.
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