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Written testimony of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator John Pistole for a House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing on the President’s budget request for TSA for Fiscal Year 2013

Release Date: 
February 28, 2012

2362-B Rayburn

Introduction

Good morning, Chairman Aderholt, Ranking Member Price, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee today to discuss the President’s budget request for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013.

In administering the Nation’s transportation security, each year TSA screens 640 million domestic and international aviation passengers and is responsible for the security of an interrelated multi-modal network encompassing 751 million bus passengers and more than nine billion mass transit passenger trips. The U.S. transportation network also includes nearly 800,000 shipments of hazardous materials transported every day (95 percent by truck); more than 140,000 miles of railroad track (over 85 percent of which are privately owned); 3.8 million miles of roads (including 3.6 million miles of State and local roads, 46,717 miles of Interstate highway and 114,700 miles of National Highway System roads); 582,000 bridges spanning over 20 feet; 54 tunnels over 19,685 feet in length; and nearly 2.5 million miles of pipeline.

Before I discuss TSA’s FY 2013 budget request, I would like to thank the Subcommittee for its support of our FY 2012 request. We are cognizant of the difficult task you faced in an austere budget environment.

TSA's FY 2013 Budget Request

TSA is undertaking a range of risk-based-security pilot programs, using existing resources, which include:

TSA PreCheck Pilot
We are expanding TSA PreCheck from two air carriers to four and to 32 additional airports for coverage at more than 50 security checkpoints across the Nation in calendar year 2012. TSA TSA PreCheck provides passenger pre-screening for travelers who volunteer information about themselves prior to flying in order to expedite checkpoint screening. Eligible participants include certain frequent flyers as well as existing members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler programs such as Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS. Additional populations are under development, such as military personnel and security-clearance holders. TSA will keep the Committee informed as progress is made with this initiative.

Known Crewmember
TSA also intends to expand the Known Crewmember pilot into a broader program to allow expedited screening for uniformed pilots from participating airlines who show two forms of identification at the security checkpoint.

Behavior Assessor
TSA has implemented the Behavior Assessor initiative within the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program by employing specialized behavior-analysis techniques to determine whether a traveler at the checkpoint should be referred for additional screening. This additional human interaction, used effectively by security agencies worldwide, enables security officers to more effectively identify potentially high-risk individuals.

As we look to continue to assess and strengthen our operational priorities in FY 2013, we are keenly aware of the economic challenges facing the Nation. TSA’s FY 2013 budget request of $7.6 billion―$7.4 billion in gross discretionary funding and $255 million in mandatory funding―reflects a total decrease of approximately $197 million from the 2012 Enacted level.

While proposing an overall reduction in funding through targeted reductions and efficiencies, TSA prioritized key operations. This includes an additional $57.8 million to annualize frontline operational increases provided in the FY 2012 appropriations bill, $17.1 million more to fund critical maintenance for out-of-warranty screening technology equipment, and $42.7 million to support priority vetting initiatives, as well as an increase of $76.7 million to continue support for TSA’s critical security efforts.

Transportation Security Officer Annualizations
The FY 2013 request supports more than 52,000 Transportation Security Officers (TSOs), of which over 14,000 are part-time, providing security at more than 440 airports across the country.

TSA’s National Canine Program
TSA’s request includes $125 million for TSA’s National Canine program to continue support for the development, training, certification, and deployment of canine teams. Each canine team consists of a specially trained dog and a Federal, State, or local handler. This program, in partnership with State and local law enforcement agencies, provides a mobile response platform for threats to transportation security, including threats within the mass-transit, commuter-rail, and maritime-ferry transportation sectors.

Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response Teams
The budget request includes $100.2 million for a total of 37 VIPR teams, including annualized funding for the additional VIPR teams provided in the FY 2012 appropriation. VIPR-team deployments augment existing capabilities to detect and deter potential terrorist activity. TSA uses periodic random deployments that are unpredictable in their timing, location, and types of activities. VIPR teams serve as a visible deterrent in all transportation sectors, including general aviation, buses, and mass-transit.

International Air Cargo
The budget request also includes funding to fully annualize more than 50 inspectors added in FY 2012 to enhance air cargo inspection and other security oversight and improvements to meet the statutory requirement of 100 percent system-wide screening of air cargo on passenger aircraft, including aircraft originating overseas. These resources will support the on-site validation of cargo screening inspections and evaluation of foreign countries’ National Cargo Security Programs to ensure comparability to the requirements for shipping cargo by air from and within the United States.

Vetting Services
TSA is requesting a program increase of $30 million for vetting infrastructure modernization in FY 2013 to complete the design, development, and implementation of a modernized, more agile and efficient vetting infrastructure. This funding will promote fee fairness and, to the extent allowable under current laws, remove redundancy within populations holding multiple credentials while supporting implementation of the Universal Fee Rule, which improves and standardizes TSA’s procedures and criteria for conducting and administering security threat assessments. Our request also annualizes $7 million for risk-based security to continue support for the Secure Flight program’s additional TSA PreCheck requirements.

Large Aircraft and Private Charter Passenger Screening Program
TSA requests an increase of $12.7 million for the Large Aircraft and Private Charter Passenger Screening Program to fund the hardware and software necessary to meet critical Secure Flight system requirements to handle the anticipated 11 million additional passengers covered on both charter planes and aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds flying into, out of, and within the United States.

In addition, TSA’s request includes significant decreases in spending, such as a reduction of $39.4 million below the FY 2012 funding level for the purchase of screening equipment, a reduction of $179.2 million in support efficiencies, and $173.1 million in program decreases.

Explosive Detection System Procurement and Installation
TSA’s request of $367 million ($117 million in appropriated funding and $250 million from the Aviation Security Capital Fund) reduces Explosives Detection System (EDS) Procurement and Installation funding in FY 2013 by a total of $105.4 million relative to FY 2012. Increased funding for EDS systems in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and prior appropriations have helped support nearly all new projects. In addition, a FY 2012 legislative change that allows Aviation Security Capital Fund fees to be used for the procurement and installation of EDS equipment will maintain adequate resources for TSA’s checked-baggage screening.

Checkpoint Support
The FY 2013 request for checkpoint support is $120 million, a total decrease of $84.5 million from FY 2012 levels. This funding includes resources to accelerate and expand carry-on-baggage and passenger-screening technologies. The FY 2013 request supports multi-year procurement plans to provide explosives-detection capabilities at additional airports and to recapitalize existing capabilities. The funds included in the request are directed toward those technologies whose full operational capacity has not been reached.

Screening Technology Maintenance
TSA’s request also reduces Screening Technology Maintenance by a total of $11.4 million from FY 2012 levels. With the procurement of new technologies, efficiencies have been gained as a result of the extension of Transportation Security Equipment (TSE) maintenance warranties from 12 to 24 months.

Federal Flight Deck Officer and Flight Crew Training
TSA’s request of $12.5 million for the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) and Flight Crew Training program represents a decrease of $12.6 million from TSA’s FY 2012 request. As TSA focuses its aviation security activities on programs that mitigate the highest risks, funds will be redirected from this voluntary program to other high-priority, risk-based operational initiatives. Since 2001, we have made a number of enhancements to aviation security, such as 100-percent screening of all passengers and their carry-on items, the installation of reinforced and locking cockpit doors on aircraft that operate in U.S. airspace, and increased passenger and flight crew awareness of security risks. These improvements have greatly lowered the risk of unauthorized cockpit access and represent a comprehensive and redundant risk-mitigation strategy that begins before passengers board an aircraft. Program reductions will be accomplished through a variety of efforts aimed at providing the highest potential security benefits while gaining efficiencies in training-facility consolidation and training-contract restructuring.

Federal Air Marshal Service
The FY 2013 request for the Federal Air Marshal Service is $929.6 million, a reduction of $36.5 million relative to FY 2012. This request reflects our optimized leveraging of other aviation security system enhancements, allowing for more efficient mission deployments to high-risk flights.

In addition, the FY 2013 request includes an adjustment to the Aviation Security Passenger Fee (Passenger Fee). The proposal would generate an additional $317 million in new collections in 2013, $117 million of which would be used to further offset the cost of Federal aviation security operations and $200 million of which would contribute to Federal deficit reduction. Following the Security Fee restructuring, passengers would pay a fee of $5.00 per one-way trip beginning in the fourth quarter of FY 2013, rather than a separate fee for each enplanement under the current system. The restructuring would provide TSA with the flexibility to meet increasing aviation security costs and would better align the costs associated with passenger security to the direct beneficiaries. The Passenger Fee has not changed or been adjusted for inflation since TSA was established in 2002, even while the overall cost of aviation security has grown by more than 400 percent. The Administration’s proposal makes progress toward fulfilling the intent of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act to cover the costs of aviation security through fees.

Mr. Chairman, thank you again for this opportunity to discuss the President’s budget request for TSA. I look forward to our continued work together and would be pleased to respond to your questions.

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