Good afternoon Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Jackson-Lee, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today about the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)-Office of Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service (OLE/FAMS) and how the changes we are implementing will help us achieve our mission to detect, deter, and defeat terrorist threats to the Nation’s transportation systems while streamlining our operations.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the former Deputy Director of the FAMS, who is now TSA’s new Assistant Administrator, Mr. Mike Novak of the Office of Training and Workforce Engagement (TWE). Mr. Novak was also a former Assistant Director of Training for the FAMS at TSA. In addition, I would like to introduce Mr. Roderick Allison, who was recently named as the new Deputy Director of OLE/FAMS and who most recently served as our former Assistant Director for Flight Operations.
The FAMS was officially transferred from the Federal Aviation Administration to TSA by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. Over a four-year period, the FAMS transitioned from TSA to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement component, and then back to TSA. It has been about six years since our reintegration with TSA. Today, Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) serve as the primary law enforcement officers within TSA and are deployed on both international and domestic flights. Last year, TSA signed 23 international agreements with foreign partners, including nine agreements permitting the deployment of FAMs on flights between the U.S. and the respective countries and 14 agreements on technical assistance and information sharing. Also of note in 2011, the Military Operations Research Society selected a University of Southern California (one of the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Centers of Excellence partners) collaborative project with S&T and FA
MS on randomizing Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) flight schedules for the prestigious Rist Award, the first non-Department of Defense winner in history.
Today, OLE/FAMS serves DHS in a variety of critical roles. We are responsible for operating the Freedom Center, which contains the Transportation Security Operations Center (TSOC), the operational communications nexus for all of TSA, and the National Explosives Detection Canine Training Program (NEDCTP). We also manage the personnel security clearance process for TSA and conduct both Joint Vulnerability Assessments for airports as well as Man Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) Vulnerability Assessments.
In addition to our aviation security responsibilities, in conjunction with the Office of Security Operations, we administer the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response Program (VIPR), which is aimed at enhancing the intermodal security response of our state and local transit partners. TSA has 25 multi-modal VIPR Teams working in transportation sectors across the country to prevent or disrupt potential terrorist planning activities, and the TSA appropriation for fiscal year 2012 includes funds for an additional 12 new VIPR Teams.
Ten years after 9/11, our mission is no longer separate from TSA’s other transportation security missions. Today, our responsibilities make us a key component of TSA’s transportation security counterterrorism strategy.
As you may know, TSA has recently undertaken an agency-wide transformation initiative. The OLE/FAMS part of the TSA transformation focuses specifically on transportation law enforcement services across TSA. The transformation plan has created a fully integrated OLE/FAMS, realigned into three operational divisions that support and enhance the TSA law enforcement mission. Under the plan some portion of non-mission elements such as financial and administrative services as well as technology management are transitioning to appropriate centralized TSA entities. This proposed structure will enable TSA to more efficiently and effectively execute its day-to-day national security mission imperatives, establish a meaningful and realistic strategic vision for its law enforcement programs, and be flexible to address evolving threats to the Nation’s transportation systems.
In order to achieve this vision, it’s crucial that TSA has a well-trained and highly motivated workforce. Transitioning the FAMS Training Center and other FAMS training programs to the TWE and leveraging the expertise of the men and women who train our FAMs are important steps towards that goal.
Throughout this transition, we will continue to sustain the high level of FAMS training currently underway. FAMS training will remain an independent division under TWE, continuing to serve our mission needs, while TSA will benefit from the professional experience of former FAMS executives like Mr. Novak.
Law enforcement is our essential function. The OLE/FAMS transformation will enhance FAMS’s ability to focus on what it does best – providing TSA with an agile, responsive and dependable law enforcement component that complements the overall TSA mission. OLE/FAMS will streamline from five directorates to three divisions: the Flight Operations Division, the Security Services and Assessments Division (SSA), and the Field Operations Division (FLD). Remaining functions from the former Administrative and Technical Services and Training and Workforce Programs directorates will transfer to the appropriate TSA division and some supporting elements will transfer to the Business Management Office.
Flight Operations Division
The Flight Operations alignment will remain largely unchanged from its original function. It will maintain the management of FAMS daily deployment, 24/7 incident management, TSA’s emergency preparedness functions, the Federal Flight Deck Officer program and other associated programs. Training functions relating to those programs will migrate to TWE while the TSOC and FAMS Systems Operational Control functions will continue as part of Flight Operations.
Security Services and Assessments Division
SSA’s structure will also remain similar to the present composition, including the NEDCTP, MANPADS mitigation, airport vulnerability assessments, and physical security. However, some section-level functions will be transformed to permit greater attention to emerging mission areas. These include responsibility for TSA’s Insider Threat Section. The Insider Threat Section will enable TSA to better identify and mitigate risks posed by individuals with inside knowledge or access to the transportation system.
Field Operations Division
The FLD will align under four branches, three responsible for the oversight of a roughly equal number of Field Supervisory Air Marshals in Charge (SACs) and organized based on location. The fourth branch will manage all other field-related law enforcement programs, including those which will realign to OLE/FAMS from other TSA components. I am encouraged that this structure will enable us to better serve the men and women in the 25 field offices who protect us every day.
In particular, the Law Enforcement Programs Branch will contain three sections – VIPR/Joint Coordination Center, Tactical Support and Law Enforcement Information Coordination. The new Tactical Support Section is composed of operational elements which sustain Field Office operational functions.
The Critical Incident Response Program (CIRP), which primarily serves OLE/FAMS Field Operations, offers organization‐wide support services in response to any critical incident such as line of duty exposure to traumatic events. CIRP provides assistance to OLE/FAMS employees and their families in times of personal or professional crisis and helps employees meet life’s challenges in an effort to remain healthy, engaged and productive. This Branch will also liaise and collaborate with TWE on delivery of OLE/FAMS focused training products and oversee the provision/compliance of FAMs’ recurrent training for headquarters operational personnel.
The Law Enforcement Information Coordination Section (LECS), formerly known as the Information Coordination Division, has become more significant given its increasing TSA duties, particularly as it assumes the role of primary Federal Bureau of Investigation operational contact.
The transformation of OLE/FAMS Field Office management is designed to be consistent with other TSA operational components and to permit future smooth transitions in the field. OLE/FAMS Field Office Branch Chiefs will align congruently with the Office of Security Operations’ (OSO) Regional Managers. This model will permit closer coordination between senior OLE/FAMS and OSO managers, which is expected to improve TSA operational performance and professional collaboration.
The model also enables OLE/FAMS to pursue a “field-centric” approach allowing branch managers and staff to focus solely on supporting the field, and the management of offices/SACs. Moreover, a field-centric approach will also provide the time and space to consider issues of field office consolidation and/or right-sizing congruent with the FAMS Concept of Operations or emerging law enforcement trends/challenges.
In addition, the realignment will contribute to correcting the internal challenges noted in a January 2012 report by DHS’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which investigated allegations of misconduct and illegal discrimination and retaliation in the FAMS. While the report found those allegations to be unfounded, the OIG did find that the FAMS suffered from a lack of management cohesion, negative workforce perceptions, and a lack of compliance with headquarters direction on matters of office operations and management philosophy. Changing the management structure and re-invigorating the focus of Field Operations addresses the OIG’s concerns by laying the foundation for real, positive cultural change to our workforce. We welcome the OIG review and have worked closely with them throughout this process.
We believe the changes we are implementing will help strengthen our ability to provide comprehensive transportation security. They are designed to enable TSA to more efficiently and effectively execute our day-to-day operations and cultivate a strategic vision for our law enforcement programs while maximizing the flexibility needed to address unforeseen challenges and threats to the Nation’s transportation systems.
Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Jackson-Lee, we thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. We look forward to answering your questions about the mission and operation of the Federal Air Marshal Service and the organizational changes that may result from the TSA transformation.