Logistics group calls on Trump to nominate TSA administrator
The Airforwarders Association said air cargo security programs need leadership with strong ties to the White House.
The Airforwarders Association (AfA) on Thursday urged President Trump to nominate a new head for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which has been without a confirmed administrator since Peter Neffinger retired in January at the end of the Obama administration. The group is concerned about the agency’s ability to maintain and improve throughput of air cargo at U.S. airports without top-level direction.
President Trump has made homeland security a major priority and said that terrorists are an immediate threat to enter the United States.
TSA has primary responsibility for ensuring the security of the U.S. aviation system, while U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for checking travelers and cargo crossing international borders. Trump has also not yet named anyone to be CBP Commissioner.
TSA and CBP are sub-agencies within the Department of Homeland Security, for which the Trump administration is seeking a significant budget increase to more aggressively regulate immigration on the southern border.
Experts say that permanent political appointees are necessary at federal agencies because career civil servants working as temporary leaders do not have the clout or access to effectively pursue new initiatives or make directional changes that may be necessary.
The AfA said a Senate-confirmed administrator would help the TSA move to finalize pending changes to the Indirect Air Carrier Standard Security Program aimed at making it more efficient, flexible and cost-effective for industry and government. Strong leadership would also allow the TSA to make modifications to the Known Shipper program to address the challenges of verifying customers in an e-commerce environment and to allow the expanded use of private canines that can detect explosives in certified screening facilities run by air forwarders.
At a Feb. 17 Senate hearing, Stephen Alterman, president of the Cargo Airline Association, called for legislation to make the Transportation Security Administrator position a five-year appointment.
“Six Administrators over three years gives short shrift to the importance of transportation security,” AfA Executive Director Brandon Fried agreed in a statement at the time. “Continuity of leadership is critical to the Transportation Security Administration and a five year appointment will provide much needed stability.
"We fully appreciate that these are early days in the new Administration but we urge the Trump Administration to propose a new Administrator as expeditiously as possible. Senate confirmed leadership is critical for the day-to-day leadership of TSA. Unburdening the transportation industry of regulations that no longer add value to security is absolutely necessary," Fried said.
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