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tv   Acting TSA Administrator Testifies on Agency Budget Operations  CSPAN  May 8, 2021 6:34am-8:00am EDT

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condolences to the family of the 16 tsa employees who are tragically died from contracting
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covid-19 while bravely protecting this nation. despite the pandemic and considering the overwhelming risk, i am pleased with the efforts tsa took to protect both its frontline workforce and the traveling public through the expansion of ppe use, protective barriers, and regular cleaning as well as leading the charge on reducing the number of touch points and interactions between passengers and tsa screeners. the expansion of the credential authorization technology and computed programs they came from additional funds in the fiscal 2021 appropriation was almost persistent in these challenging times, and i'm excited to see both of these programs work to employ -- countless security environments. thank you, mr. lajoye, and i look forward to today's discussion on how we can better support tsa through covid and
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beyond. madam chair, i yield back and i think you. >> thank you. mr. lajoye, -- official statement for the hearing record. these begin your oral summary which i would ask you to keep to five minutes. >> good morning, chairwoman roybal-allard, ranking member fleischmann and establishment of the subcommittee. i am honored to appear before you today to discuss tsa's response to the covid-19 pandemic, share highlights from fiscal '21, and provide a glimpse of the president's fy '22 discretionary request. like all of us tsa faced tremendous challenges over the past year with the ongoing global pandemic. air travel came to a near standstill and operational agility, the resilience of our workforce and the strength of our partnerships were tested like never before. i am incredibly proud of of y we've adapted to these unprecedented challenges and position are agency for the
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future. even to the darkest times of the pandemic we never wavered from our solemn commitment of protecting the nation's transportation system and ensuring the freedom of movement of people and commerce. from the very beginning tsa place the highest for you on the health and safety of our employees and that of the traveling public. we moved quickly to implement protective measures as he could check points and screening locations across the country, thanks in part to generous support in past fiscal years and from the cares act. we enforced social distancing at our checkpoints, install plastic shielding to minimize personal contact, increased efforts and required offices to wear face masks, gloves, eye protection or face shields. our workforce also took direct and meaningful action to supplement the worldwide pandemic response if we help repatriate over 100,000 n
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citizens stranded across the globe and facilitate the distribution of personal protective equipment and other critical supplies such as innovators around the world. our partners also contributed greatly to our response efforts. we work closely with industry and government colleagues on plans to mitigate the risk of covid-19 and received great support from stakeholders as implemented the orders required travelers to wear face masks across all transportation systems. as i said a moment ago the health and safety of the tsa workforce was always top of mind. we use our personal flexibilities to offer new leave options for employees at high risk of severe illness from exposure to the virus, , and maximize telework and flexible scheduling options whenever possible. and we were at the forefront and provide accelerated vaccine access to dhs operation or vaccinate our workforce. we had many successes come back remains we've gone through a
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great national trauma and have all expense heartbreaking losses. thousands of tsa employees contracted covid-19 and 16 employees and one screen a contractor sadly passed away from the effects of the virus. my most sincere condolences go to their families, friends and peers for the loss. the heartfelt letters this subcommittee sent to those milfs who passed away were greatly appreciated by the entire tsa workforce. before i continue to want to take a moment to thank our workforce, our tsa officers come federal air marshals, k-9 teams, inspectors, aviation personal, cargo personnel and are betting staffs as well as our representatives and indices around the world and every single support personnel sit behind them. to every single person i am proud of their continue resilience and professionalism. i also want to thank the subcommittee and congress for your support year after year
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including in fiscal year 21 with generous appropriation of 144.2 million above the previous year. we are putting these times to good use and they're helping us advance our security priorities including the deployment of computed tomography and authentication technology. these technologies are critical because they in hansard detection capability of the checkpoint of about a touchless screening process. because the reduction of air travel were able to deploy these technologies faster than expected. i am pleased to announce we've now deployed over 300 ct systems of 142 locations. in fiscal 21 will execute the next phase of our ct deployment in the procurement of 242 additional midsized systems. tsa has also the .1053 cat units at 121 locations today we are planning to procure 1001 additional units in fiscal '21. we believe cat is a game
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changing textiles that provide a secure more touchless and seamless customer experience and we're working to ensure that every federal airport from our largest to our smalls will receive it soon. we are always focus on leveraging the best techno to improve security and reduce touch points throughout the travel experience. currently we are evaluating biometric technology and monitoring the evolution of digital credentials at mobile driver's licenses and digital passports and how we might accept them into airport environment. while technology is one of the key for our success, so to rt essays people. i am honored to serve with a dedicated workforce and remain committed to supporting them and investing in their success. tsa relates committed to fostering a fair and equitable workplace and promoting diversity and inclusion at all levels. we are at our best when our employees feel valued and to fully engage to achieve our mission. issue we've taken our investment and a workforce to another level
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with incentives like tso service packs can career progression and a model officer recognition program. these incentives are designed to both retain dedicated skilled workers and attract talented new recruits. in addition to investing in our workforce where using the skull 21 funds to recruit and hire talented, transportation skewed officers in your own states, districts and towns. focused recruitment and at which will help us fill these important roles and many others. filling these jobs is a priority as travel volume continues to climb and we continue to face a determined enemy. before i close want to address reports you may have seen about increases in firearms detected at checkpoints nationwide. even with a substantial decrease in volume in 2020, officers detected twice as many firearms per million passengers and in 2019 and, unfortunately, the vast majority of these weapons were fully loaded.
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we are working to address this on one increase through, our regulatory enforcement and by helping educate the public and how to properly travel a firearm in checked baggage. as you know the administration is released a preview of the discretion and request for fiscal 22. it provides 52 billion for dhs which is approximately equal to the fiscal '21 enacted level to continue to protect the american people. the request also further supports work in key areas like research, innovation and transportation security technologies. i look forward to further discussions with you on fiscal 22 after the president transmits the full budget to the congress. tsa continues the global leader in security and continues to adapt to ever evolving challenges. as we emerge from covid-19 pandemic and approached the 20th anniversary of september 11, tsa stands for in our resolve to protect the nation's transportation systems.
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chairwoman roybal-allard, ranking member fleischmann and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. i look forward to your question questions. >> thank you, mr. lajoye. mr. lajoye, daily airport passenger volume is 50% of 2019 levels but it is also ten times greater than it was at this time last year, and the steady the se increases projected through the summer. we have heard concerns about whether tsa will have sufficient staffing due to this increased volume as well as fully onboarding challenges as result of our hiring freeze and the pandemic. this has raise questions that tsa readiness to support commercial air traffic transportation systems without modifying passenger screening protocol and compromising public safety. does tsa have sufficient staffing as passenger volume continues to increase, and how
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are we really sure no modification of procedures or threat detection capabilities will pose risk to passengers security? >> thank you, thank you for the question. what i want to say to the subcommittee is about this pandemic never once did we sacrifice security at any of the changes made to our procedures. that was something we established very, very early on that no matter what we are not come to sacrifice our security mission and about as the summer volume increases. we have been faced with a number of the same challenges that many other companies face in trying to attract talent, especially in light of the pandemic. for a number of months we were challenged to bring -- to bring people into large rooms to do assessments. i'm happy to report that in the last 120 days since january we have hired approximately 2500 officers and we anticipate over the next eight weeks hiring
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another 1600 more. if you compare that from the staffing level to volume, we are about where we were in 2019. but again one of the things we've also realized during this pandemic is that once we hit that high watermark, we don't receive much from there. so we will be extending our high through the summer because as you pointed out we do expect volume to continued increase even as we get out of the summer and closer into holidays. we want to make sure we continue to hire through the summer and into early fall that we position for the next holiday season and also into next summer as well. >> you talk a little bit about this in your opening statement, about the steps that were taken to protect your workforce and the traveling public from covid-19. how will those efforts change over the coming months as both the number of passengers and
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vaccination level increase, while at the same time we know not every passenger will have been vaccinated? >> well again, madam chair, one of the things from the very beginning we followed the signs and we listened to our chief medical officer. we put in place, you know, the nation's that were advice from the cdc and former chief medical officer are the things you put in place to protect the workforce. so very, very early on even before we had dedicated sort of ppe supply lines, we had voluntary for employees to wear surgical masks. once we didn't dedicate supplies come in surgical masks it became a requirement for tsa officers to wear surgical masks. following city became a requirement that they wear e protection to include face shields if they were not standing behind the plexiglas shield and that you seem some airports today. that remains the requirement
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today. i'm also happy to report that as i am sitting here, 60% of tsa employees have received their first shot and 40% have been fully vaccinated. the priority of the department has place on vaccinating our workforce, it really has been a game changer from where we were several months ago. so we continue to emphasize the importance to our workforce and going and getting the vaccine, and i'm very confident that at this point any tsa employee who desires to go get the vaccine has ability to do so. >> okay. last question before my time is up. as new technologies and protocols are implemented to prevent the spread of covid-19, what changes to passenger screening should travelers expect? >> some of these we have already announced. passengers are going to be able to carry larger quantities of hand sanitizer through the
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checkpoint. that something very early on we made the decision to do. we think it's the best thing from a public health perspective that in no way results in ina security concern from our perspective. we also, using cat, and cat technology is a key piece of enabling technology because it really does promote a more touches and five the passengers cannot take their own mobile device placed on top of the cat machine. they can insert their own driver's license. so they're going to much less contact with tsa employees. and as we begin to further deploy computed tomography, passengers will realize a much more seamless, much more touchless travel experience as it into our checkpoints today. they are still going to encounter tsa officers who will be wearing a surgical mask. they are still going to encounter a checkpoint where there may be various locations
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either staying behind plexiglas shielding. airport partners have done a fantastic job at helping remote -- the extent that we can, so it really is important for passengers as we get closer to summer to go to, check with the airline because for the last year many people have not been traveling. they may, in fact, experience some differences in the travel experience. and just as volume is returning, we also think passenger wait times are going to return to pre-pandemic levels. we certainly encourage the traveling public to give himself enough time as they go through the entire travel experience. >> mr. fleischmann. >> thank you, madam chair for those questions. and mr. lajoye, for those answers. as a matter-of-fact those were my first group of questions. i'm reading from the screen, just need to have that -- last
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week it was announced that tsa is extending the mask requirements for travelers across all transportation networks through monday september 13. mr. lajoye, can you explain the factors that went into deciding on this extension, and why this date was chosen? and as a follow-up question, sir, what challenges have been encountered in the enforcement of this mandate and what actions has tsa taken as a result, sir? >> well, thank you, sir, for the question. since january this past year in keeping with president biden's executive order for the whole of government to focus on protecting the traveling public, we did mandate the requirement for surgical masks in all modes of transportation. and as we have approaching that deadline, worked very closely with cdc because the
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recommendations still remains at the best protect the traveling public, they use in the requirement for surgical masks contains to be that which is recommended from cdc. so that's the decision that went into extending the mandate. some of the chums with had, to date we've had about 2000 total incidents involving noncompliance of a mask. about 90% happening on board the aircraft. i can tell you that most of these that we are pursuing enforcement actions in the form of the warning order. we remind passengers placed the mask on but where we have one egregious violations, there have been arrests that it been made, and we have enforce civil penalties for especially egregious cases. that continues to remain a challenge for us. we have had outstanding partnership across aviation surface and airport partners in helping to enforce this mandate.
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we work very, very closely with the faa as well as the cdc in making sure that as we continue that we are keeping up with any updated guidance on the cdc, and begin the message for the traveling public is please adhere to the mask requirements. because it can result in a civil penalty or an really egregious cases will result in an assault on a flight crew, criminal penalties to include an arrest. >> well, very well handled. i can't see my clock, madam chair, so how much time do i left? >> used 112 minutes and 17 seconds -- you still have two minutes and 17 seconds. >> madam chair, also announced last week with the extension for real id compliance due to complications related to the covid-19 pandemic.
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this is the second extension on the enforcement of this requirement. first by a year from october 202010 october of 2021, and now i an additional 19 months until may of 2022. can you please explain the reasoning for the further extension and the status of this program to include the potential for additional extension? >> well, i think it really was an acknowledgment that the country is going through so much with covid-19 -- is going -- for much of this year deemed the officers were simply close and we really wanted to make sure the states could focus on their recovery efforts. we worked very, very closely across the industry. i made recommendations to the secretary, and by extending it we really do think we can come first, allow the states to focus on reopening their dnc's angle to get the traveling public the opportunity to really go out there and get real id compliant driver's licenses.
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presently about 45% or so is our analysis, 45% of the traveling public has a compliant real id. we really need that number to be closer to 90% without resulting in a fairly substantial operational impact the airports. so by extending it to may and 23 we really think we are providing ample for so by extending it, ample opportunities for travelers, to get real comply id cards. >> i want to thank you and your personnel again. appreciate you stepping up at this time. >> mister cuellar. >> thank you, madam chair and ranking member, both of you for your leadership.
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let's the also join the chairwoman in thanking you for the service that you all do. we all fly from summer. i fly from laredo, texas and you have a great set of men and women working there sometimes from san antonio and another great set of folks working there. i want to thank you for the professionalism your folks give the traveling public, two quick questions. one has to do, on the border we have what they call nonessentials, with mexicans at the border. and in land bridge you are not allowed in. and with the 15,000 mexicans, and you can ride to houston.
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i assume what you do is check to see -- isn't it correct on what you do if you have somebody from mexico coming in, check the covid test and they are able to walk in? >> i have to get with cvp on what the protocols are. i'm not as familiar with that. >> sorry, my question is at the airports. forget about the land ports. i was just giving you a layout of the situation but at the airports don't you just allow mexicans to come in for the negative covid test? >> we had tsa wouldn't be doing those checks when they arrive from mexico but i have to go back and see what some of the protocols are. i will commit to getting back
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something specific on the record after a consult with cvp. >> the other question that i have is in the past as you do the automation there is a lot of equipment you upgrade and in the past some of that equipment we suggested to your past tsa administrators, can you use them without surplus and provide them surplus equipment under the law to may be local jails, local facilities, other countries that might not have the equipment? the problem is the long maintenance contract but a lot of the surplus was not able to be used because the maintenance contracts so therefore your
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agency in the past stayed with the equipment and we were just paying a lot of money to store that equipment and still paying on the maintenance. could you provide the committee whatever equipment you might have in the surplus, what you are paying for storage, what you have for maintenance on any past generation of equipment because as you know we are trying to get the best equipment which we support but i want to see what we're doing with all that equipment that might be in surplus. >> i will get all the information you asked for and give you a full briefing on anything we currently have in surplus. we don't have much in property
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type technology. most of our agreement is fully deployed but as we continue to deploy ct, more of the advanced technology of the airport that is going to 3 up to your question surplus equipment, we've had very good conversations with the state department because there may be a number of opportunities for capacity development efforts in so many places around the world for how we could donate equipment especially to much of the developing world but i will get back a briefing on what we haven't what we may develop into the future. >> that i think the committee would appreciate, if there's anything we can donate that will be good for them but i think it will be good for us also. thank you so much and you have a lot of good people working for you and i appreciate it.
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we see members every week when we fly in, thank you, madam chair, thank you so much. thank you, darby lajoye. >> mister rutherford. >> thank you. >> i just want to echo what you've heard from other members here, particularly mister cuellar. i fly from jacksonville international airport regularly and the men and women that you all have are doing a fantastic job and i'm going to join the chairwoman in expressing our condolences to all of those members and their families, we
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grieve with them and thank you for your duty and thank them for their sacrifice. back to something that was a little before your time. don't know if it was before your time but before your current position. at many of our airports, right after 9/11, can't believe we are still this many years after 9/11 still reimbursing those agencies for those airports for those capital investments, can you give me an idea how much is being directed toward reimbursement, we are about to appoint -- just wipe that out for the remaining airports that
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haven't been completely reimbursed, can you give me those numbers, do you know them? >> i can speak to the issue and get more specific but it does very airport by airport depending on what the exact project is. i think maybe you're familiar with the aviation security capital fund, $250 million, that is never changed, the buying power is not what it was when it was initially authorized so a lot of the airports have engaged in substantial upgrades for the entire baggage system, very different from what existed 20 years ago. depends on the need for the project airport is pursuing, they give small airports and everything in between so we can get back so pretty. briefing with what that is airport by airport depending on the project. >> you make a good point. it is about time to regenerate
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that equipment in many locations. let me ask this too, you said there was some talk about utilizing this to dca. can you expand a little bit about how that is going to help us with no such processing? what is the rollout on that? >> great question and would certainly invite you and any of your colleagues to reagan international airport where we've got this prototype, we
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did test 2 it dca towards the end of 2020, we are deploying that, we are doing field testing at a number of locations throughout spring and fall, what that is is the next level in authentication technology, it incorporates as part of the unit 6 glass shielding, anticipating the continued need to have that shielding affect from covid 19 it also incorporates a camera so it is managing real-time your image to the image in your id so it really truly is the next evolution not only in security but in seamless touchless travel. >> i had an opportunity at ji a to look at that in operation and it was quite impressive. congratulations on that. also if i could ask are we looking at that on an international point of exit or point of departure, or utilizing any of that abroad? >> overseas, it has been a while since we've been overseas
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and then able to travel but use of cameras at the border control stations in the airport and or checkpoint is barely commonplace, a little different than we are intending here but generally speaking i think the entire world has realized we need to continue to promote technology that does get that more seamless, touchless travel to facilitate how passengers travel whether it was international in a country or between countries. >> i see my time is run out. appreciate that. i yield back. >> mister price?
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>> administrator, thank you for your testimony, appearing before us today. you are well acquainted, we all are, with evidence the rise of white supremacy and the mystic extremism are the major terrorist threats that are country now faces. that was underscored by the attempted insurrection on january 6th, the storming of the capital. you are probably aware that after that event occurred the head of the association of flight attendants, sarah nelson, called for suspected perpetrators to be barred from flying saying they pose a threat to the security of those on board. i and others have heard anecdotal reports from colleagues about what was like, how frightening it was to be on flights with those perpetrators
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in the ensuing days when they were flying back to the district at the same time the insurgents were flying and in many cases menacing, pretty serious question whether those people should have been on board an aircraft so considering this, the threat of domestic violence and extremists, what is your assessment of where we are, the adequacy of the list you're working with. are you satisfied we are borrowing from flight those who should be barred from flight? any figures about who you are denying boarding and the kind of communication you are having with your intelligence counterparts to ensure safety of passengers? >> following the attack at the capital i was horrified by what i saw, certainly was concerned
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for several days and weeks with the threats that i know you and your colleagues were facing and we really did take pretty immediate steps, we worked closely with the fbi and all are vetting authorities and we took immediate steps to ensure that no point was the threat of an aircraft, at no point was anybody who took place in the attack on the capital going to be a threat on board an aircraft. we worked as closely with the fbi, i'm very confident we have the authority and information we need to continue to ensure that we can provide that protection of the aircraft and in keeping with what you allude to with the threats against members of congress, we immediately placed and in bed with capital police, we want to know when members are traveling, we help facilitate
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members security in the airports as well as onboard those flights and so we are going to keep that person in place at the capital police headquarters because it is important for us to know when members are flying. subsequent to the attack we also substantially increased the number of law enforcement presence at our checkpoints, we use federal air marshals in uniform and deploy them in a number of locations throughout the country to include the 3 airports in the national capital region. i would certainly be willing to provide a more specific briefing in a different setting if there's any specific information, i'm prepared to do that in a different setting. >> i did hear informal reports, i expect we all did about immediate beefed-up presence at the checkpoints and especially dc airports and i know that is
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true and it would probably be good at some point to have a more formal response and going forward is what i'm asking, are you satisfied going forward the process is in place to identify these people who are quite willing obviously to be violence, to do harm, quite willing. are you satisfied the process is in place to identify such people and bar them from flying? >> this remains a priority for the department and we work very closely within the department to include our intelligence officials, to include the fbi so i'm very confident there adequate processes in place that will protect the transportation system. very close partnerships at the highest of the agencies to ensure the partnership exists, daily interactions in the intelligence community to make sure we have adequate
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information to ensure the safety of the public so i'm confident in those processes. >> thank you, madam chair. >> ms. simpson. >> thank you. madam chair and darby lajoye, i enjoyed hearing your testimony already. tsa during the pandemic in the post pandemic setting as well. today i would like to focus on the latter because we are beginning to work on the budget and you talk about long-standing workforce challenges at the agency and i want to follow up a little bit on the conversation with our chairwoman asking for challenges for the agency as well. i would start by asking how can congress and members of the
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committee support job opportunities within tsa for young people just entering the skilled workforce right now? >> thank you for that question and we have had tremendous support. a lot of what we focused on we were challenging to stay competitive in a number of cities before the pandemic. the average starting salary is between 16 and $20 an hour. so these allow us to extend retentions and we work closely with a number of you and your colleagues's staff. we have opportunities to get the word out tsa, in an effort, we have had tremendous success going back several months in robust public campaign to attract people to work for tsa. we pay full time healthcare benefits for part-time employees in tuition reimbursement so it is really about communicating all the
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different things that exist for those who come work for tsa. the support we've gotten from this committee on pay incentives are key for us. last week because of the support we got from the committee we were able to give almost 32,000 tsa employees a pay raise because of the funding we got as part of crew development and service pay and every quarter recognizing bonuses and pay raises the best tsa has to offer. the use were programs that we have and would love to be able to work with you and your committee and staff and make sure we are finding opportunities to communicate that to the traveling public. >> that is good to know, you are focused on merit and rewarding those who are working hard and trying to keep them
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engaged and long-term member of the workforce with those incentives. the other question i would like to focus on today is about human trafficking concerns. last year the tsa combined with the department of homeland security probably prioritizing human trafficking through prevention, protection, prosecution of partnership and according to the website tsa conducted a survey the revealed human trafficking happens in almost all modes of transportation so my question today is with what is happening at the border right now, traffic into and through the united states, 35, interstate 35 into iowa, a growing concern for me, people getting on planes as well. is your agency made any plans to ramp him officer training to deal with these concerns? >> yes, in the very first meeting i had with alejandra mayorkas is this is something he highlighted, combating human trafficking. we have required training for
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all tsa employees and we provided training for stakeholders across different modes and we place tsa law-enforcement, a number of key task force with partners in law enforcement to include cvp and ice and a number of cases, i can get you specifics, last-minute requests on itineraries for anyone we thought may be engaging in human trafficking and having somebody from tsa on the law enforcement task force is key to helping investigate and prosecuting those who would from practicing on human trafficking. >> i would appreciate additional follow-up on how you are continuing to implement that and what your findings are as you come across these incidents of potential human trafficking and my last question is what resources do you want members of congress to know your people need to combat human trafficking through our airports?
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>> i look forward to being able to speak specifics one for 22 budget has been transmitted to congress. anything we can do by way of training is important for us. as you point out there are 2 million and as we continue to recover, to a half million people travel through our checkpoints every day so our officers having adequate deals to spot incidents of human trafficking especially in partnership with checkpoint, law enforcement officers we think is key so continued support for training and support, important continuing forward. >> thank you for your testimony today and thank you for holding this hearing today, appreciate it and i yield back. >> mister quigley. >> thank you for being here. i remember when the pandemic first hit and we were coming to dc people thought we were courageous, nothing compared to your folks who were with thousands of people at a time
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so i commend their efforts and appreciate it. if you could give us a little deep dive on the technology issues, i am hearing about all provided lights that are part of the process, i heard about 3-d screening, can you give us more information on that and it's possible rollout? >> absolutely. to your first point throughout the pandemic, it has been an opportunity for a number of small businesses, we are testing and fielding, ultraviolet light that may help in checkpoint efforts, we had a number of key initiatives to get to the very best ideas we think may be out there that can help revolutionize what is needed at checkpoints by way of
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checkpoint sanitization so we have a couple locations around the country, the epa was one of them where we looked at prototype for effectively a machine that runs a thing through it with ultraviolet light to sanitize bins. on the 3-d, that really is getting at the topography. we currently have 300 cc machines deployed around the country. by the end of fiscal 21 another 242 and what that allows officers to do is all in the machine, on a screen that can rotate the image and effectively conduct a back search on screen without the need for a lot of things on the bag. the ct machines, really key technology for us not only from a security perspective, we are convinced this is the best tool we can give our officers to mitigate security concerns but also important in a post
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pandemic because fewer back checks, fewer items being put in bags is an effort to promote touchless and seamless travel. the 3-d stuff, ct technology we are hearing so much about. >> the rollout is tempered by the process of purchasing. if you have enough resources or training, is there anything else that can expedite that process and incorporating it? >> all those things are factors we have to consider. we've got 300, we are 99.7% deployed on the initial 300. we anticipate by the end of this fiscal year another 240 more ct machines being deployed at 142 locations around the country. that is about 25%, we have 440
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airports, 2500 lanes. all that is the ability of vendors to make the machines, test them in ramp up the training. we made a lot of progress in the last year and this year with support from the committee. by the end of this year, 542 of those machines will have been procured 300 of which are deployed at airports. >> are you aware of their use of the world's busiest airport which happens to be in my district, o'hare? >> i am. o'hare is one of the airports that has them. we have 7 deployed. i will check those numbers but had them for a while. they love the technology, we really do think this is key technology. >> i believe the members may
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not all be aware of these possibilities but as time goes on what i want to know is what many want to know is if there is something else out there that not only provides additional security and or protect the traveler and the tsa personnel, we want to hear about it, the possibility of additional resources that are necessary we at least want to know if it is an option but i appreciate your effort moving forward with choices, thank you and i yield back. >> mister aguilar. >> thank you for your testimony, i want to express my thanks to tsos to continue to serve as essential workers during this pandemic and my condolences to those you lost. to follow up on mister
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quigley's question about the new technology and touchless screening, you talked about the pilot programs, what can the committee be looking for in the next 2 or 3 years in a post pandemic world as more travelers are coming back, you talked about the touchless technology in your testimony. what is this going to look like in the next few years and what should be be prepared to see when it comes to funding those priorities? >> excellent question and especially appropriate question as tsa approaches our twentieth anniversary, following the attacks on september 11th, checkpoints were not designed with security in mind. we operate according to a mandate, federalize all the airports and really find ways to shoehorn in technology to an
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existing footprint, we learned a lot in 20 years, that is informing what you've seen for a couple years, the passengers are going to expect the screening experience to look different, expect it to be different and programs like cad and 2 are going to be key investments to put a dent in that. it is a sea change, cat 2, it truly is self service, a camera that in real time comparing your image to the image that is embedded in your driver's license. if you look at drivers licenses, with the boarding pass on our mobile device, recently went out with a request for information, we want to learn how to explore
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this to be id compliant. we want to make sure it is secure. from a safety perspective it is safe in terms of privacy for individuals and as intended do we have is robust a process as we can to flag identity fraud and make the person presenting is in fact who they say they are and see these things in airports today and how do you pile those things to gather in the same way we do for checked baggage. the underlying infrastructure is key in all of this because we are pretty close with this technology to achieve what we currently do with checked baggage. rather than moving passengers from full lanes to open lanes
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we can move images, and efficient way for officers to screen passengers. all these things are being tested currently in an airport so if i look forward the next couple years continued priorities along tv, and next-generation i think enhanced aits will be important for us which is the on persons screening that would obviate the need for passengers to raise their hands above their head, we will see more screening at speed i think, and it really is what the public is going to expect. >> appreciate that. i want to ask briefly about retention and hiring in 2019, the ig should recommendations to help you recruit including approving exit surveys for those leaving. can you share how the progress is coming and how the pandemic affected your ability to implement recommendations that the ig gave?
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>> thank you for the question and we fully support the idea of recommendations. we learned a lot by talking with our workforce and then we look at the overlap, four years, or the last two years we've seen improvements, four% better during the pandemic than in 2019. if you look at the employee engagement index which is the key indicators as part of the viewpoints survey, we see a 12 point improvement in the last four years and when we talk to the workforce what we typically hear is the importance of pay which is again the appreciation to the subcommittee for supporting a number of our key pay and initiatives like service pay, 32,000 employees in the last two weeks of pay
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raise, these are recognized and rewards the best of tsa as they achieve advanced training, additional skills, they are going to be recognized for that. those are important things we hear from our workforce and do think is contributing to the positive impact we are seeing, the positive impact we are seeing in attrition. >> thanks. i'm over my time so i put a quarter in the jar and yield back. >> it is now $0.50. miss underwood miss underwood? she may have had to get up. that would end the first round at now time for a second.
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i would like to begin talking a little bit about the workforce, the facts that we talked in the past about the relatively low compensation provided to tsos which he believes is not commensurate with the training, technical skill and responsibilities of the job and contributes to recruitment and contention challenges. legislation to address this problem, the right to the tsa workforce act has been reintroduced in the 100 seventeenth congress with over 150 cosponsors and as you know the bill would lose the tsa
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workforce into the time of the general schedule for pay and benefits. has tsa general can it do an analysis on the costs associated and does tsa believe migrating the workforce to this pay system would alleviate some of the aforementioned challenges? >> thank you, madam chair. this is important, the secretary is committed to looking at this issue and we are working closely with the department to understand what those implications would be and what the pricing would be. we are aware of the bill being proposed moving tsa to the 5, we are providing drafting assistance on that legislation and for us, there are a couple keys irrespective of what ever the personnel system the tsa operates on. it needs to ensure at least
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what tsa employees make compared to their colleagues in title v and we think in the strengthen and promote due process rights for our workforce to encourage collective bargaining and to perform security mission so we are committed to working on the proposal what those costs would be several years ago, but you can see there is a lot of room for looking at that compared to 2019 costs. their technology but then how the workforce is classified, determining what the cost would be. to make sure we understand the implications to tsa personnel system. >> i would imagine that would include an analysis of cost
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savings that might be expected from hiring and retention with any improvements and efficiency. >> it would. >> are there other steps you are considering and would those consider legislation or can tsa implement them administratively? >> i would go back to the support we've gotten from this committee, service pack, these are key programs helping to address tso pay. these are important things for us, can't understand the score the importance enough of 32,000 employees in the last week getting anywhere from 1 to 2% rate depending on the length of
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service they have in tsa career progression. it allows 4500 eligible authors getting 5% pay raise and it is within our authority for the committee, we are able to continue to fund these activities so it is important for us that as we roll these programs out, to your question what positive impact is that having on retention and recruitment efforts? >> the request by the previous administration to eliminate the response and law enforcement officer reimbursement program known as leo. do you know of the proposed limitations were the result of any kind of analysis of program performance or cost-benefit and in your opinion do these programs provide that? >> these are very important programs for tsa and in the
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past it doesn't reflect any past steps we've taken with respect to funding was in no way a level of the importance of we are putting on the program, simply there's always going to be trade-offs in every budget, reimbursable program is key for us, just last week i was in san antonio where because of the actions of a brave police officer working overtime at the airport he presented the shooting down there from becoming a greater tragedy than it already was. i spoke previously about the importance of fiber not only in aviation but in service, these are really key programs for tsa. i'm confident that has been communicated in the department and the administration and reflected in future budgets but these are key programs for us. i'm confident the requirement has been listened to and heard
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by the department. >> mister fleishman. >> thank you, madam chair and darby lajoye. this has been an outstanding substantive hearing. i want to address unmanned aerial systems the cause and continue to cause disruption at many of our major airports across the country. to address this emerging threat tsa began the establishment of a counter you a is testbed for detecting, identifying, monitoring and classifying you a is operating in the vicinity of airports, to support this effort the subcommittee appropriated an additional to approve the program. can you describe the status of this testbed as well as the progress of the expansion efforts? >> absolutely. it is a great question.
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we too see a significant rise in the number of incidents, and we characterize it in two ways, lots of reports daily about siding of you a ass and the incident is being where it is some sort of evasive action. we are seeing an increase in both of those, something that is important to look at. just this week, and the second testbed. $3 million in fiscal 2021, miami is the first and lax we announced this week will be the second testbed for counter us activities. >> fiscal 2020, tsa increased
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its engagement and outreach, obligated $500 million to small businesses, the largest obligation amount in tsa's history. small businesses have taken their challenges throughout the pandemic. can you describe tsa's efforts with small business outreach in fiscal 21 and beyond and how your procurement strategy has changed as a result? >> yes, as you noted, tsa for the first time ever exceeded all of our goals for small business, $576 million was awarded to small businesses and i cannot underscore enough how important small businesses were to our response to covid 19 whether it was hand sanitizer, a variety of ppe, small
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businesses played a very key role in our ability in deploying plastic shielding throughout the airport so again can't underscore enough how important they were in protecting our officers and the traveling public in response to covid 19, we want to expand on that success working closely within dhs, we are working closely with venture capital firms to find ways to solicit support from small businesses, how can we put our requirements out there to small businesses, brought agency analysis is an opportunity for us to hear from small business how we can help develop their processes to meet the government's needs. we have a number of priorities, we will buy demonstration units we understand what they have to offer. all these things we think are an effort to help grow and expand on the success we had
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last year in promoting small business. >> again, thank you for your service, your answers to these questions today. in the interest of time because other folks want to ask questions in round 2, i will yield back and i thank you. >> thank you, madam chair. i would like to ask you to turn for a moment to tsa's responsibilities for surface transportation. you referred to this a minute ago and i would like to ask you to elaborate. this includes freight and passenger rail, highway and maritime systems to contrast with the aviation system, the service transportation systems especially public transit are more open and easily accessible and therefore exposed to potential terrorist threats including less first dictated
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attacks involving fewer numbers of people. also unlike the aviation system surface transportation system operators are themselves directly responsible for their own security and tsa's role is one of offering assistance and best practices and so forth. you do have many initiatives we have supported over the years to prepare and train surface transportation, employees and operators to observe and respond to threatened incidents. this includes the viper program mentioned in collaboration with the intercity bus grant program. tsa should a final rule requiring certain high-risk transportation systems to provide tsa approved to hire security training for certain employees which has affected railroad, public transportation systems and over the road
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buses. then came the pandemic that changed the course of many things that i wonder if you could update us where this stands now. can you provide an update on the implementation of this new rule? are you able to share any information to the subcommittee about how well things are going and other activities you have underway? >> thank you for the question and thank you for highlighting the importance of surface transportation security in what we do. the surface training rule like a lot of other things tsa and industry is doing has been impacted by the pandemic. we found a number -- we talk often about how much of an impact the pandemic had on evh and workers. the impact has been just as
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severe in surface operators as well. they were challenged to implement the rules, and we worked closely to provide enough likability and extensions and helping them implement the rule, we are still making good progress on that which as we continue to come back from the pandemic we see incremental progress against the surface training rule. i don't have any real concerns on the ability to meet that requirement. it was really impacted by the pandemic. generally speaking you also highlight the real differences in surface as opposed to aviation from a regulatory framework. it is more open, there is a much less rigid regulatory framework in place so we do prioritize enhancing cyberabilities because we know a number of these operators focus extensively on industrial control systems our ability to provide expert cyberassessments
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we think is really important and mitigation strategies being able to focus on the new training rule and over the last four months focus on mask requirements for surface operation so continue to focus on regulatory enforcement and lastly want to use existing tsa platforms to get better analytics. we learned a lot in aviation over many years. we want to get better analytics that we can help them better understand trends and where we may be able to prioritize some of these operators. >> that is a good overview as we prepare the transcript of today's hearing and look toward the budget i think it would be helpful to formalize this a bit, whatever facts and figures
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you can provide on the reach of the and the future plans that would be helpful because this is not well-known and it is the first time today that it has come up. this role would respect surface transportation and in particular the current situation the agency is in with respect to these plans which admittedly were modified somewhat but are back on track it seems you are saying. anything you want to add with respect to that would be appreciated. >> absolutely. >> mister rutherford. >> thank you, madam chair. darby lajoye, the tsa modernization act which passed three years ago required tsa to
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deploy capabilities that allow travelers to enroll using mobile technologies. it is my understanding that what we run into in accomplishing that is the gathering of applicants's fingerprints, running the background check obviously. in order for tsa to deploy mobile enrollment technology, tsa first needs approval from the fbi to deploy mobile biometric capturing technology that will enable travelers then to submit fingerprints to the tsa as part of their application. can you talk a little bit about the timetables the fbi has committed to in the decision or
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discussions with tsa to accomplish this ability to register for pre-check through mobile devices and sending your fingerprints? >> i think it really is the ability for the fbi to be apple to do it. we are working closely on a process that will be certified and give the fbi the ability electronically, mobley if you will to be able to capture the fingerprint but you are right, the tsa act did require us to expand by two on the number of tsa pre-check providers. we want to make sure it is an open transparent competitive process all of which is designed to bring the price down and bring the number of tsa pre-checks numbers up. we are working very closely with the fbi on that process. i do think it will take a couple years for us to do that
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given the inherent challenges of making sure you had a process that is safe, secure and allows the fbi to adequately capture the fingerprint by electronic means. we can look back on what those timelines are working with the fbi but i do think it will take a number of years before we have the capability to do that. >> i bring that up to make sure that in our funding we are able to assist you on that because i think it will be very important and i haven't really heard any talk about what those needs are specifically so i would be interested to see that as the budget comes out in the future. second thing i to say thank you to tsa. something that happened during
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the pandemic a lot of people, at the very beginning a lot of people didn't know or appreciate the burden that was placed on tsa in helping to repatriate so many americans scattered across the globe, i know you all helped something north of 100,000 americans get back home. i can tell you i was amazed at my district. i had no idea how many people from my district were scattered in some very remote locations around the globe and they are doing some great work that needed to come home when the
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pandemic hit and tsa was an amazing partner in helping my office get my people back home so i want to say thank you for that. we got a lot of the accolades but you guys in the state did a lot of work so thank you for that. my time has run out, i will yield back. >> mister aguilar. >> thank you. administrator, just wanted to ask a couple questions on something that came up in your verbal testimony. you mentioned twice as many firearms were seized in 2020 compared to 2019, the highest in the 19 year history of your agency and use the majority of them were loaded. talk to me a little bit about
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why you think that is happening and some educational opportunities and some of the efforts you are undertaking to give people the correct information about their inability to carry firearms? >> it really is an interesting question about why it is happening. we've seen a number of things during the pandemic that cause us concern, they spoke about their efforts of 0-tolerance policy about the dramatic increase in assaults on flight crews. we are seeing incidents increase. a lot of people have not been used to traveling, may not be as informed how to properly transport a firearm but for perspective, the last week of
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april we had 120 firearms at our checkpoints we stopped from getting on board an aircraft and in one day alone 32, this is a public safety concern because as i point out these, 80% are loaded, often thrown in the bottom of the bag. the excuse we generally get most often is they simply forgot it was in there. what we've been focusing on is not only regulatory enforcement responsibilities to make sure we are pursuing enforcement actions against anyone who brings a firearm to a checkpoint but also how to help educate the traveling public to clarify, to direct them to state and local jurisdiction, different states, different cities have different laws in place with respect to firearms so we developed a proxy, a
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glossy that we developed how to properly educate the traveling public, federal security directors across the country are working closely with state and local partners to get this going, we are working closely with us attorneys to especially egregious cases to bring prosecutions to these individuals and the number of repeat offenders is exceedingly low. we think education can go a long way towards mitigating these numbers but it is a concern, we work closely with our airport partners and in this regard he will be a continued focus for public safety. >> how much discretion is used when it comes to civil fines imposed for first-time offenders?
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>> it depends on the nature. if they are aggravating factors that exist that would tend towards the upper limit of what the civil penalty may look like but it depends on other aggravating factors, we have looked internally at what those things are so depending on the circumstances of that it would dictate potential civil penalties. >> i appreciate the answers, someone who flies incredibly often and far distances i appreciate the work you folks are doing, but also clearly chose a lot more that we can do and appreciate your efforts, yield back. >> i don't believe there are any more questions. with that, darby lajoye, thank you for your time, the
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subcommittee on homeland security stands adjourned. >> thank you, madam chair and members of the subcommittee. >> go to for the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. if you miss live coverage it is easy to qualify the latest briefings and the administration's response, use the interactive gallery of maps to follow cases in the us and worldwide, go to today on the communicators and parkinson, ceo of firsthand authority talks about his company's high-speed broadband technology for america's first responders. >> we provide a dedicated always on hov lane for public safety. we've seen time and again, cannot handle the surges that occur when a natural disaster like the boston bombings occur. those networks get oversaturated and public safety did not


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