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Chairman Gimenez: “TSA Must Have Clear Goals and Be Streamlined for Effective Execution”

March 12, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security Chairman Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) delivered the following opening statement in a hearing to examine the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) efforts and implementation of “The TSA Modernization Act of 2018.”


Watch Subcommittee Chairman Gimenez’s full opening statement here.

As prepared for delivery:

Today, our subcommittee is meeting to discuss the organizational structure of the Transportation Security Administration and opportunities for Congress to ensure that the agency carries out its mission effectively, efficiently, and in a cost-effective manner.

TSA is an organization that was formed in response to the tragic acts of terrorism that took the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent Americans on September 11, 2001.

In the aftermath of the terrible casualties and destruction, the U.S. Government overhauled its approach to transportation security to prevent similar attacks in the future.

Now, 22 years later, TSA employs over 60,000 brave men and women who take on the difficult mission each day to keep our transportation sector safe—particularly at our airports.

As with all organizations—as TSA has matured, it has taken on more responsibility and expanded its roles and capabilities. This Committee believes that TSA’s organizational structure must support its mission and to do that, TSA must have clear goals and be streamlined for effective execution.

When I was mayor of Miami-Dade County, I evaluated the structure and corresponding costs for our system and I found that by implementing budget reductions, the system actually worked more efficiently.

In 2018, TSA underwent a significant reorganization aimed at enhancing its efficiency, effectiveness, and responsiveness to emerging threats.

We are here today to discuss how effective those transitions have been and to hear from the deputies that are tasked with executing Administrator Pekoske’s vision. So far during the 118th Congress, this subcommittee has covered several critical issues TSA faces today.

We have especially focused on technology at TSA, workforce pay, the impending REAL ID transition, and the ongoing issue regarding the September 11th Security Fee.

In previous hearings, we have discussed the importance of developing and deploying new, cutting-edge technologies at airport security checkpoints that allow Transportation Security Officers to thoroughly screen all passengers in a time-efficient and minimally invasive manner.

However, TSA’s current projections show a pessimistic outlook for when the entire flying American public can expect to have access to the most technologically up-to-date systems.

Administrator Pekoske has told this committee that we should not expect to see a final roll-out of the technology until the 2040’s.

We have also discussed the new Pay Plan that was implemented on July 2, 2023.

TSA employee satisfaction consistently ranks low and attrition rates are high.

Administrator Pekoske has communicated to me that TSA is already seeing lower attrition levels because of these pay increases.

I have concerns about the current path to TSA’s pay equity—particularly the long-term viability of the new Pay Plan.

We have been told by TSA that unless the pay increase is annualized, there is a possibility that TSA will have significant issues moving forward.

I think I speak for all of us on the committee that we want to see the frontline personnel paid a fair and equitable wage, on parity with the rest of the federal government.

I am ready to work with my colleagues across the aisle to find an effective, long-term solution.

Finally, we have also examined the September 11th Security Fee, or Passenger Security Fee, and the current diversion of this fee.

While the fee – which stands at $5.60 per one-way trip – was intended to fund TSA’s operations at airports, part of the fees collected from U.S. air travelers is currently being diverted to the Treasury to pay for interest on our national debt.

Additionally, there has been no effort from TSA to prioritize checkpoint technology from funds provided by the fee collection.

TSA sets aside $250 million annually from the fees collected for checked baggage technology.

It is time that TSA prioritizes checkpoint technology – which all air passengers interact with during their travels – in the same way that the agency prioritizes checked baggage technology.

While the fee diversion is a difficult issue because of the budgetary implications of ending the fee diversion, I am confident that we can find a solution to ensure that TSA can access the fees collected to accelerate the deployment of new technologies.

I am also encouraged that in last year’s Administrator’s Intent, Administrator Pekoske prioritized innovation in technology as well as investment in the agency’s frontline workforce, two priorities of this subcommittee.

However, this subcommittee must continue to examine further opportunities to make TSA more efficient and ensure safety across the entire transportations sector.

I look forward to the discussion and the solutions that are offered.