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tv   TSA Outreach Public Engagement Efforts  CSPAN  March 23, 2018 7:01pm-8:03pm EDT

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activist and founder of the national review who died in 2008. at 8:00 p.m. on the presidency, the relationship between george washington and native americans is examined by colin callaway and his book, the indian world of george washington and the first president and the first americans and the birth of the nation. >> now to a house homeland security subcommittee where representatives from the tsa and the national center for transgender equality answer questions about the patdown process at airports when s, c accommodating disable the people with disabilities. this is about an hour. >> let's get going. committee of homeland security will come to order. the sub committee is meeting today to examine tsa's efforts to effectively engage with the traveling public in a manner
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that is positive, respectful and leads to the success of the agency's mission to secure the aviation system from threats. i now recognize myself for an opening statement. for most americans, tsa is the most visible component of the department of homeland security, and the only homeland security component which they regularly interact with. by screening over 2 million passengers per day, tsa is constantly acting with a diverse array of individuals. all of whom are worthy of the utmost respect, efficiency and security. over the course of its history, tsa has had, to at times, swiftly implement new security measures in response to changing threats. other times the agency has sought to gradually adjust operations to improve effectiveness and efficiency. it's often struggled to communicate clearly with the traveling public. lack of stake holder engagement has led to confusion among travelers, airports and air carriers and tsa's own frontline
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personnel. for example, in recent months t, is a began screening procedures with passengers at the checkpoint. this new procedure called enhanced accessible property screening or eaps was met with confusion and frustration as travelers did not understand the reasoning behind tsa's new procedures. the reality is the mission rises and falls on the agency's ability to consistently supply measures across the aviation system. this can't be done without soliciting the public's feedback, identifying and responding to the traveling public's needs and learning how to effectively communicate with the traveling public. while tsa has indeed struggled in terms of communicating security information, the agency has experienced a measure of success and leveraging the power of social media to engage travelers. tsa's own instagram account has nearly 1 million followers. i wish i had that, and has been
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heralded by media outlets for its interesting and at times comical content. this account helps raise public awareness on aviation security surrounding explosives traced to the detection k-9s, and prohibited items and tsa pre-check. the social media presence has been called one of the best in the federal government and plays an important role in communicating information to travelers. additionally, tsa's own asktsa initiative has improved the public's ability to quickly what they can and cannot get on checked package. the tsa cares program, which allows passengers to call ahead and arrange for assistance at the checkpoint, in order to improve the experience for passengers who might need extra help navigating checkpoint processes and procedures. these methods go a long way in tras forming the passenger experience into one that's less
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straesful and yet more secure. it is incumbent upon tsa to view the traveling public as a partner and security and leverage that in a manner that is collaborative and positive. i look forward to hearing what tsa is doing to further make improvement for public engagement while protecting civil rights and liberties. >> while passenger experiences with tsa should be positive from a public service perspective. it has a direct impact on security and tsa's mission to correct systems. we cannot stay ahead of evolving threats and assure without effectively engaging traveling americans and keeping the importance. there must be mutual cooperatiocooperation and respect. i look forward to your testimony. i am pleased to recognize the ranking member of the
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subcommittee, miss watson coleman for her opening statement. >> want to thank you for holding today's hearing and thank you to our witnesses for being here today to share your expertise with us. i have the special privilege of welcoming my niece christine griggs who was called by the majority today to testify on behalf of the transportation security administration. today's is an important one tsa is the most public-facing agency and interacting with 2 million passengers daly and 440 passengers across the nation and tsa has a no-fail mission as a single passenger allowed through with a weapon has the potential to cause great harm. at the same time, a single interaction at the checkpoint in which the passenger is a discriminated against through
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negative media attention. doing the right thing 2 million times every day without a single failure requires vigilance of a well-trained and dedicated workforce. tsa officers do a tremendous job under extremely difficult circumstances and tsa leadership must continue to put them in a position to succeed. for the workforce to be able to do its job, tsa must develop procedures that are effective as both security and passenger facilitation standpoints and this is why tsa's public engagement efforts are so very critical. tsa has made significant progress in expanding its efforts in recent years it has groups that represent a wide range of passenger populations and provide tsa with feedback on its programs and policies such as a disability and medical condition coalition and the multicultural coalition. many of the groups that engage with tsa such as the national
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center for trans gender, quality, provide critical perspective that can enjoy training that it provides to its officers. >> it expanded its social media weapons, with questions or complaints about this process. while i commend tsa for its efforts i believe more can and must be done. too many passengers are still left feeling frustrated and singled out by tsa procedures. trance gender passengers are subjected to an inordinate number of alarms by technology that is unable to screen them effectively. individuals with certain disabilities or medical conditions experience regular delays and racial and religious minorities are left wondering whether their random selection for additional screening was truly random. as a national organization representing trance gender americans, put it in a march 2017 letter to tsa.
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engagement that is limited to educating the public and addressing the personnel side of the screen privacy inherent in current screening technology. my main question is whether it can move beyond its engagement efforts to incorporate feedback from the public into the process for developing new procedures for trends and technologies. i recognize the severity of the terrorist threat tsa faces and i also recognize the need to protect specific procedures from public disclosure which significantly hampers tsa's public engagement efforts, continuing to improve the screening operations to better account for passenger needs wheel facing an evolving threat landscape will not be easy, but the american public deserves nothing less. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about the challenges they face. their ideas for the future and
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how we can be helpful. again, i thank the chairman for c conveni convening this hearing and i yield back the time. >> we are grateful to have a distinguished panel here today to testify. let me remind the witnesses that your entire written statement will appear in the record so you don't need the whoel thing if you don't want to. >> mrs. griggs is with civil rights and liberties ombudsman at the transportation administration and how do you fit that title on one business card? her office is responsible for ensuring that tsa employees and the travel other public are treated in a fair and lawful manner consist went federal laws and regulations protecting privacy. affording redress, governing freedom of information and prohibiting discrimination and reprisal, while promoting diversity and inclusion. miss griggs began working with
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tsa in 2002. the chair recognizes ms. griggs for her opening statement. >> good morning, chairman catco, ranking member watson coleman ask distinguished members of the subcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you to discuss the tsa's approach to public engagement. as the acting administrator for the traveler engagement ombudsman i am responsible with engaging a number of groups as well as the general public to ensure that various passenger constituencies are well represented in our policy deliberations and this includes the traveler engagement division which develops and implements approximately sees and procedures regarding the dhs traveler redress inquiry program. the tsa contact center and the disability multicultural and customer service practice as well as the ombudsman division which provides neutral, informal and problem resolution services to the public for issues,
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concerns and conflicts involving tsa policies and procedures. integral to tsa's success in carrying out our critical airport security screening function is our ability to communicate with and understand our audiences. tsa is engaged in a multi-faceted approach to improve our ability to communicate with the public through a variety of forums including one-on-one engagement with our tsos, public forums, social media and the internet. >> in fiscal year 2017 the center responded to 601,000 inquiries by phone and e-mail. it answers questions about the checkpoint experience, addresses complaints or concerns and serves as the intake point for travelers who need information about tsa pre-check, dhs traveler redress or their civil rights and civil liberties among other topics. reflective of the progress tsa is making in this effort in fiscal year 2017, the tcc
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experienced a 14% decrease in the rate of complaints despite a 3% increase in passenger through put. while there are many reasons for this improvement, a key element of our success involves outreach and tsa's earliest days we reached out to community representatives to help us understand the traveling public's needs and concerns. as a result of that outreach was the establishment of tsa's disability and medical condition coalition and the tsa multicultural coalition. these coalitions represent a wide spectrum of travelers including muslims, native americans and persons with ostomis and people who use wheelchairs and others. one example of the positive outcome from such engagement is within the sikh community by taking into consideration the religious sensitivities of the community, tsa now allows sikh passengers to pat down their own religious headwear and submit
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their hands for additional screening. another example is to secure civil rights equities including disability, transgender and headwear in the next broad agency announcement to industry to require people, process and technology screening solutions. in late 2016, my team met with the innovation task force to discuss this broad agency announcement. this coincided with our work and with the transgender community and their ongoing concerns that tsa's technology system can be problematic for transgender travelers at the security checkpoint. as a result, the broad agency announcement, tsa issued in early 2017 to solicit technology ideas from industry now include civil rights equities which should promote improvements to screening with persons with disabilities and screening of headwear and screening of transgender passengers. another way tsa engages with the public is through tsa cares which was established in 2011 and provides a toll-free hot
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line that enables travelers for policies and procedures and what to expect with the checkpoint. tsa saw an 11% call volume for tsa cares assistance. last year we also began a tsa cares video series to help better inform travelers to help inform through the process. another link is through the social media presence which has continued to grow. our social media efforts aim to show case tsa's screening efforts, k-9s, packing tips and initiatives that help to increase awareness. our instagram account which highlights the prohibited items has 840,000 followers and we've also continued our commitment to customer service by helping passengers in real time 365 days a year through atask tsa which is the social care team that monitors twitter and facebook. to date, we've received 450,000 questions through @ask tsa. in closing with the ever-increasing number with the
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interactions tsa has every day, we communicate effectively with all of the stakeholders is crucial. thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much, miss gregs and i appreciate you being here today and your testimony. the next witness is miss stacy fitzmaurice. miss fitsmaurice serves as deputy assistant administrator for the office of security operations at tsa and is responsible for overseeing risk-based adaptive security measures at airports nationwide. she previously served as a deputy administrator for the office of intelligence and analysis and has contributed to the mission of u.s. customs and border protection as the new targeting programs within the national targeting center. she's a graduate of the senior executive service and the candidate development program and the chair recognizes miss fitzmaurice for her opening
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statement. >> good morning, chairman catco, watson coleman and distinguished members of the subcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you to discuss how the transportation security administration engages with our most important stake holder, the traveling public. and our various efforts to keep them informed on security procedures. as the deputy assistant administrator of tsa's office of security operation, i am responsible for helping oversee the domestic operational arm of particular sa which secures the nation's transportation infrastructure and screens all commercial airline passengers' baggage and cargo. oso represents the front line of physical security screening operations with our transportation security officers serving as our primary interface with the public. on an average day in 2017 our officers are in contact with about $2.4 million travelers at more than 440 federalized airports nationwide.
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with the workforce spread from maine to the mariana islands, screening such a large volume of travelers and fulfilling our vital national security function, while meeting the very needs of the traveling public can be a challenge. it is our duty to keep travelers safe and secure and it is also our duty to treat every traveler with dignity and respect. despite these challenges we remain focussed that our travelers are aware of the diverse need of travelers and sensitive to cultural differences and able to effectively carry out screening requirements and to train tsos, tsa established the a ccademy, d it is in fletco in glen co, georgia, it was previously held at u.s. airports. >> while at fletc, student
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officers train at replica checkpoints involving real world scenarios such as social engineering tactics and screening individuals with disabilities, and how to effectively implement alarm resolution procedures. this training allows the tsos to develop a better understanding of a diverse array of passenger needs. tsos also play a critically important role in ensuring travelers are educated about and prepared for the screening process. last summer as part of a continued effort to raise the baseline of aviation security tsa implemented new security measures for carry-on baggage that required travelers to place all personal electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for x-ray screening and standard lanes and implementing those procedural changes, tsos designated as divestiture
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officers provide a critical, face to face element and communicate the requirements to travelers at the checkpoint, answer questions from the travelers and prepare them for the subsequent screening process, complimenting and supplementing such efforts tsa utilized traditional media, social media and industry partners to inform the partners about the public about the changes to better prepare travelers for the checkpoint security process. we were also able to field questions in real time through ask tsa receiving instant feedback from passengers and providing quick resolution to concerns resulting from the changes in security. in closing, today's threaten viernment is more dynamic, more profound and more complex than ever before as threats evolve, we must adapt to our adversaries whiches whiches in estates changes and policies to procedures.
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we must ensure that we effectively communicate to the public so that travelers know what to expect which up orts for an efficient screening experience. additionally, we remain committed to receiving feedback from travelers and where possible, adjusting our processes to better meet individual needs while still achieving our security objectives. thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, miss fitsmaurice. our third witness is harper jean tobin, she serves for transgender equality. she leads ncte's advocacy and u.s. federal agencies and directs ncte's policy work. prior to her work, miss tobin worked with the federal rights project with the national senior citizens law center and from case western reserve university and the chair now recognized miss tobin for her opening
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statement. >>. >> you thank you for the opporty to speak to you today. ncte has been engaging with tsa for nearly a decade now. my whole time on staff, and we see the challenge facing transgender travelers as part of a wider spectrum of concerns that affect the traveling public including concerns with travellers with disabilities and survivors of sexual trauma. as long as tsa relies on body scanner units and intimate patdowns as primary passenger screening tools, we believe there will be a cost to travelers' privacy, dignity and liberty and questions whether that cost is paying off in real security benefits. that cost is borne by all travelers and it tends to be greater for anyone who is perceived as being different.
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in 2015 ncte conducted a survey of over 28,000 -- sorry, nearly 28,000 trance gender americans in all 50 states of those who have flown in the last year, 43% reported at least one negative tsa experience related to being transgender. these included being misgendered or harassed and being loudly questioned about their gender or body parts, sometimes in front of young family members, and being asked to remove or lift clothing to show an undergarment or sensitive area of the body and some reported leaving the checkpoint in tears while others feared that being outed to other travelers could make them a target for violence. some parents have told us they were afraid to fly with their transgender children base of the embarrassment they can face. they can't distinguish between human body parts and a potential object and appears to rely in
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part about assumptions about typical body contours about men and women and this leads to alarms caused by sensitive parts of the body or by undergarments. many travelers report to us that they routinely experience alarms in the chest or groin areaes in estating patdowns and sometimes humiliating conversations. i have to say i personally have experienced this many times as have many members of ncte staff, board and our colleagues and friends. >> one of ncte's board members who is also a senior citizen wrote to me last month that she was pulled out of line at bwi because of what she was told was an anomaly in the groin area, and was patted down or as she put it in her own words, groped by no less than three officers. another colleague and friend of mine published an op ed in 2015 about traveling to d.c. for an internship. he wrote his excitement over the
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trip was quickly skillchquelche we need to know what's in your pants. we understand tsa's security mission. it is important also to understand that travelers don't want to have conversations like this when they are trying to get on a plane. that was a conversation, as you can imagine that was very uncomfortable for my colleague and frankly even more uncomfortable than my sitting here talking about it before a congressional subcommittee because we have here a government agency that has made it its business to know what's in an american's pants and there has got to be a way to keep americans safe without innocent travelers being asked questions about, frankly, their genitals or having them touched by uniformed strangers every time they try to get on a plane. now, over the years, tsa, as i said, has worked with ncte has
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worked with tsa a great deal. we have briefed them. we've joined stake holder calls and conferences and we've offered input on training and web content and in 2014 i received a community partner award. at the same time we've also seen the real legalities of this engagement, and tsa has -- as the chairman noted has more content, i would add, quite literally with the contact than any other agency. the staff of crlote really want and try in my experience to improve the passenger experience, and they have done so much as you've just heard to engage the public on that, but in my view they are hand strung in the mission by the flaws of the current screening model. their materials.
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while they work very hard on them and produce videos for specific groups of travelers and different web pages for specific groups of tralers, and the materials are often unable to answer basic questions because of secrecy or unpredicibility and they're often unable to respond meaning fully leading to complaints because they're baked into the system. so they really try, but public outreach has to inform policy procedures and technology, and we understand tsa's in the process of demonstrating upgrades to ait, when it comes to innovation, we certainly hope this will lead to improvements and we urge the agency to think about more than making tweaks. is continuing to invest in ait yients is it the right move for the public and can it make use of less-invasive tools and how can the agency truly minimize false alarms and men myself its touch rate and how can reaching out and hearing travelers'
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questions and concerns inform tsa's approach on the front end and not the back end. i have great respect for the folks, and the individual tsos who are working hard and don't relish the intrusive nature of their work, and i hope today's hearing can help ensure that tsa's public engagement lead to real improvements in the passenger experience. thanks. >> thank you, miss tobin, we appreciate you being here and your testimony and i now recognize myself for five minutes of questions and the first question i want to talk about is the social media aspect of tsa. the question i have is -- how many passenger engagements occur via social media such as an e-mail or phone call. does anybody have any estimate of that? it seems like there's more from the social media standpoint.
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>> miss briggs? >> yes, sir. with 847,000 followers on instagram, we have a fantastic engagement with the traveling public through that means through the contact center which is our primary portal for passengers to come in with questions. we get about, i would say about 70% or so that come in through the phone calls and then another 30 come in with e-mail questions, but by and large i would say, yes, by far the internet is the greatest tool, sir. >> okay. one of the things i am curious about is the program itself has only ten employees right now, is that right? >> i believe it's close to ten, sir. >> okay. so that seems like an awful lot of inquiries to hand over such a small amount. has there been any discussion had at tsa about shifting some resources to this emerging, positive thing that tsa is doing? >> sure. i think there's been some discussion around some of the work that we do in the tsa
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contact center and how that can be supportive of the @asktsa initiatives and getting efficiencies there, as well. >> i would ask that you take a look that the and if within the next ten days if someone can get back to me to know what the specific plans are because this seems like a good program and i don't want it to fall into a bureaucratic morass where people don't pay attention and it suffers from it and i hope you gave it the amount of staffing it deserves. i want to talk to fitsmaurice if i may, it is an innovative necessity, if you will, for risk-based security and i know a few years ago the goal was in a short period of time to have up to 20 million passengers in the tsa pre-check because it would allow you to focus on those that are of more concern and could spend more time with them in a non-pre-check environment. i know we're nowhere near that. i am still concerned and if we
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have time maybe later we'll talk about this, why we're not where we should be with those numbers and we're nowhere close yet, but one thing i have seen from the inspector general's report from december 2017 was that the pre-check boom, if you will, that kind of went from 1 million up to four or five million where it is now was followed by a substantial period of delay and process in precheck applications. i wonder if you can talk to me about that real quick and tell me what tsa is doing to address that problem if. >> thank you for the question. our goal is to continue to grow the program as well as the number of travelers receiving the pre-check based on their enrollment every day. the program does have a very significant spike in enrollments and what i can share with you is today we're in a very good place as it relates to the timeframe it takes. it's on average, less than a
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week, if you enroll to get your response for being in pre-check. so i think the issues that we had in the past have been resolved additionally. that office has been able to supplement bringing on new personnel to help with the adjudication of applications. >> is there something in place to deal with potential future spikes so that we don't have this happen again? >> yes. so my understanding is that they have through the additional resources been able to plan for additional spikes and they took place relationships and engagements to be able to surge if needed. >> very good. >> sticking with the precheck, i do an awful lot of traveling and i'm in pre-check, and it seems more and more lately that people. you hear in lines that people don't think pre-check is worth it. i was in the airport in miami and there were nine to seven times more people in the
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pre-check, rather than non-pre-check lane. people are going through the pre-check lane quicker, number one, but number two, more importantly, we made it a big priority to get tsa to stop manage inclusion. manage inclusion is taking them out of regular lanes and putting them in pre-check when they don't have a pre-check background and it still seems to be the case when it happens sometimes into varying degrees and that not only is a security risk which is something that we need to talk about another setting and another hearing, but it is something that people from a product standpoint think is not right, and i'm being one of them and an all of lot of people and from an image standpoint as well as a safety standpoint is not good and we've been banging tsa over the head since i've been in congress the last three years to not do this, and i wonder if you can explain why they're doing it and why you
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think the public isn't going to get upset about it, and why do you care? >>. >> yes. thank you, chairman. we have managed the inclusion program, as you mentioned and we also, you know -- >> are you calling it something different now, so we have to file that or what? >> no, we're not doing that. what i can share with you is we've taken steps to reduce the number of individuals who would be get being pre-checked that are not enrolled and that would be subsequent or a continued drawdown over really the last year. when the program first rolled out one of the populations that we originally targeted were high frequent flyers and i can tell you that that practice ended last year so those individuals are no longer receiving pre-check just based on their frequent flier status. relative to your question on long lines, and i realize sometimes it can be the optics of that. what i can share with you, though is across the system, people who are in pre-check are waiting on average about a
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minute and a half to two minutes and over about 94% of the system for pre-check travelers are waiting under five minutes. so wheel there may be people in those lines those lines are moving quickly. >> the last thing, and i'm indulging myself because i'll give my colleagues the same courtesy. i was in an airport in fort meyers, and they had nothing but pre-check line and in the pre-check line they had one dog ask people were going back -- going by the dog in a very fast pace and getting into line and the line was backed up. they did it as a way of reduced congestion and while it's important that we have the dog sniff on every single individual they are still not in pre-check. they still don't have the background on these individuals. they still don't have the selectee information if there is any, and they still could be letting people through that line that may be otherwise shouldn't be going through that line and the whole idea of pre-check is
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to know your traveler and you just hope the dog catches a whiff of something if there is a concern and that coupled with the comment that you've taken steps to reduce nonpre-check people going through pre-check lanes is not what we want to hear. what we want to hear is people who are not in pre-check are not going through a pre-check lane period and that was the whole thing behind managed inclusion so i feel like in a way it's a bit of a shell game going on, and we're going to have more hearings and we'll have to have another hearing on pre-check alone to examine this in more depth, but i want to let you know to take back in the agency that we are still very concerned about this and it seems like tsa is not getting the message. pre-check is pre-checked and nonpre-checked is not pre-check asked it isn't a way to manage the traffic and we can help you with that, too. pre-check is pre-check, okay? a and we want you guys to
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understand that. >> thank you, mr. chairman, i want to associate myself with your concerns with regard to prechecking and the individuals being taken through the line who haven't engaged in the whole vetting process for pre-check. i guess i want to ask this question first of miss tobin and thank you all for being here. miss tobin, i'm troubled by the discussion that you had about the passengers and trance end jer passengers in particular when they're going through screening. i get the impression that you believe that there have been some improvement in the way tsa is dealing with these issues as a result of having collaborations and feedback from you and your organization, do you agree? >> well, miss ranking member. we've seen some improvements on the human element of those
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interactions. we still pretty regularly hear of challenges, and some of the things, i mentioned in my written testimony are things that fellow witnesses agree shouldn't be happening and they're still happening and we have really seen improvements. we think that there's probably more that we can do if we had the chance to collaborate with their training academy, for example, but i think the major concern that we have is there are some things that can't be addressed through the human element baked into the screening model that there is no amount of professionalism on the part of tsos which most of the time we do see, that can make up for the fact that some passengers are having repeated alarms that have to be cleared in the process that is inherently intrusive.
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>> i kind of really want to stake with this issue a little bit. i am thinking that the center life training that takes place in georgia now kind of provides these officers who will be on the front lines a bit more information and a bit more tools on how to deal with this, and so i want to get to that in a second, but i want to ask about this ait that is gender neutral because i believe that that is one of the things that your organization says is vitally important at these checkpoints and will reduce the degree to which individuals are treated in a way that intrudes upon civil liberties and their privacy. i'm wondering if we're talking about aits that are gender neutral and if so, do you have any idea how far away we are from having them at these
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checkpoints? i guess miss fitsmaurice or miss griggs, i'm not sure which of you wants to respond. >> thank you, ranking member. as a result of the broad agency announcement, we've had several submissions and through those we are currently demonstrating an on-person screening solution that would eliminate any gender-specific alarms and be able to make that distinction, if you will, and we're looking for vendors who have solutions for on-person screening that's gender agnostic and right now we're in the demonstration phase of it and certainly continue to look forward to bring that as quickly as we can. >> so all of the vendors that you're dealing with understand that you're looking for gender neutral technology. do you have any idea how far away we are from seeing some of this employed in the. >> airports? >> i do not at this time. >> that is something that i would like to know because i think that that's a really
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important issue and consideration that we need to look at in sort of an expedited way. miss fitsmaurice, you say new hires are trained and the georgia facility. what do you do about the current hires that haven't had the benefit of this new academy to kind of bring them up to snuff so that they are operating under the standard, under the standards and rules and regulations and procedures and policies and protocols. >> thank you. so all of our officers, whether they were trained locally at their airport and have been part of the tsa workforce for a number of years or newer officers that have gone through the academy have received really the same training, and so if we have new procedures or changed procedures we'll obviously implement that for the training that's occurring at the academy
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for our new officers and what we'll also do is field-based training as far as existing officers. as i mentioned in my oral statement we have a lot of different scenarios that we train our officers on down at the academy for a variety of types of situations that they may experience and how to best to handle those situations, the best advise ams to give passengers and that's one of the critical things that we find is really having that engagement and strong advisements with the passenger so that they know what to expect is really critical for us to be successful in executing those. >> thank you. >> i have a number of other questions. i don't know if you want to go a second round. >> okay. i yield back. >> the chair now recognizes a chairman from louisiana for five minutes of questioning. >> thank you, mr. chairman and members of the panel. thank you for appearing today. miss grig, i've recently become a frequent flier during my
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congressional service and as a police officer for many, many years and prior to my service for my country, i certainly recognize the struggles and frustrations with the front line officers and first responders and i've come to know personally the men and women that serve as tsos especially in my local airport in louisiana. so i've come to recognize the human element that they deal with and long line, staff shortages and equipment that doesn't seem to be cooperating very well, et cetera. travelers that don't quite get on how to arrange their bags on the screening devices, and i've seen the frustration that they face. so i'm wondering, how is morale
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amongst your tsos? >> thank you for your question. i would say that overall, our tsos have a great sense of pride. >> no doubt. >> in what they do with tsa and that shows day in and day out in the work that they do to accommodate the passengers and to treat everybody fairly with dignity and respect. i would say those struggles do lend themselves often times to having officers that get frustrated, but having spent over 12 years or so in airports and in the field i can tell you that our leadership cadre, i think, has stepped up to the plate and really been there in terms of engaging officers to say if you have an issue or concern, let's resolve it here at the lowest possible level and let's work with our employee advisory groups and let's hear what the concerns are and give the officers a voice, if you will, to come forward and say this is why i'm unhappy or this
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is why it's happening and i think that has bode well and that our leadership has been supportive of that. >> that led to my next question. thank you for that encouraging answer. and the common sense answers for everyday problems in the lines that would make the lines more efficient and effective and reflective of the very crucial security screening that must take place while at the same time recognizing the needs of travelers and the needs of individual americans like miss tobin has represented today who certainly have rights that need to be addressed. do you have a mechanism for your tsos to regularly communicate with sirupervisors to address boots on the ground solution to the challenges that they face?
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>> so i think i would defer that to my colleague. >> miss more snis. >> thank you. so i think we have a variety of ways our officers can communicate. one is directly with their supervisors and routine engagements on performance and how the operation is going. also our federal security directors and the management staff at the airports are having routine town halls where they can solicit input. i personally have visited a number of airports and have received input from our officers on things that we take back, but we also have some systematic ways with an idea factory and they communicate online. >> they can. >> it's not anonymous, but they can submit suggestions and those are crowd sourced in terms of getting peedback on them. >> that's encouraging. >> i'd like to jump to the academy. is there annual recertification
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for your tsos that have been through certification training and if so, do the existing officers that were originally trained at airports across the country, do you send them to the academy in georgia? >> sir, we have a requirement for annual proficiency reviews for all of our officers to demonstrate that they remain proficient on all of our procedures, and you know, for officers who have been onboard and have not gone to the academy initially, we're not sending them back for the basic training, but there are opportunities for some of the advanced training for them to go to the academy for other reasons. >> but training changes and it's an ongoing process, and there is some method for recertification of your current tsos? >> yes, sir. >> depending on the nature of the changes that may be implemented we would look at different ways to deliver that training. it could be through online training.
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it could be through in-person training there at the airport. >> and quickly. >> miss griggs, is tsa looking to expand the roles of precheck? is that the general goal for tsa to expand pre-check? >> i think i would defer to miss fitzmaurice on that question. >> is that the general goal? >> think we want to grow the number of travelers? that being a yes, do you offer group rates? >>. >> we currently do not. >> it might be something to consider because the problems that miss tobin's constituency is due to advanced imaging technologies and it occurs to me it could be a win for everybody that you can grow to roles of tsa by offering group rates across the country and members of miss tobin's organization, and it could sign up for pre-check and go through the background clearance and they
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wouldn't go through ait and we'll go through a metal detector ask it would solve that problem and with that, mr. chairman, i thank you for allowing you to go over my time. >> what's good for the goose is good for the gander and we can do a second round of questions and miss fitsmaurice, since you are kind of the tip of the spear with respect to risk-based programs at tsa, i do want to go on further with you about the precheck. this is an issue that's proceeded your time in this position and it is something that's troubling because we take a step back in precheck and the idea of precheck is you people sign up and we do back ground checks and do more in-depth analysis of this emand we make a determination that if you'rel ij for the pre-check program and not in its original form and there is vetting that goes on and there's current vetting that goes on and you have an idea of
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whether or not the individual whether could be a problem, and when you take him out of the other lanes and put him into this lane, from a risk-based issue, it's not good, and from a public relations issue it's terrible. so you want to grow this program. and when you want to grow the program i don't know what you are anticipating with airports number one, as far as the physical layout of the precheck lanes versus non-precheck lanes number one. and number two, and far more importantly, how can you justify taking people out of regular lanes and put them in precheck when you don't have the background on them? >> yes, sir, mr. chairman, so we are as i said trying to grow the number of precheck and draw down the individuals going through just precheck that have not enrolled. that said, we also have, you know, additional screening measures that we can apply for use of k 9s as an example.
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we believe that's an more effective screening methods. as we look at how to maximize the number of individuals who are screened by a k 9 we have been able to redesign some of the coups to do that. last week i was traveling out of washington dull he is, had the opportunity to go through iman enrolled precheck member. i found my experience to be just as efficient as it would be going through a dedicated precheck lane. >> but fishes is one thing but security is another. and they're not always mutually beneficial to one another. i understand moving people is a priority. i understand you have to have a constant balance between service and security. but what got you into a lot of the tso problems if the past as far as extraordinarily poor rating on the undercover operations, testing the security
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vulnerabilities at the the checkpoint there is a o a lot of pressure and tso to move people through thap that's heightened with precheck. that was supposed to alleviate lines getting people only in there that should be. we found that managing inclusion they ee surpd that. we find again -- i'm not hearing from you that there is a goal to make sure only prechecked people go through precheck. so at a risk of sounding redundant i want to underscore the point that's not the goal of the committee. the goal of the committee is only to have only people in precheck going through precheck. it seems like you're trying to nip around the edge of that. and denigrate the security you're doing. yes having a dog go through is great. but let's not forget with the emerging technologies from the bad guys they're not going to find everything that we're looking for. so we better know with a better sense of precision who the people are going threw precheck
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and we can only do that if they're in precheck. going forward we'll need a discussion about what to do with this issue. because it's not going to stand for us in the committee here. we are -- we simply aren't going to tolerate it. and it's three years down the road. and a lot of people going through precheck still aren't enrolled. and you can't justify it to me. otherwise with that i yield to my colleague, miss watson coleman. >> thank you. first of all, mr. chairman i want to request to enter into the record the testimony from the national zis abilities rights guide, the guide dog foundation and the electronic privacy center. >> without objection ordered. >> this is to tsa. there is -- there is a concern about individuals who have experienced sexual trauma or something -- some other impediment to being able to be touched or patted down.
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how do you deal with that? what's the protocol? how do you know? >> so we have a lot of information that we put out on our website as well as with our tsa cares program where individuals can reach out and let us know in advance. we have officers trained to support these passengers who may have some sort of a need or assistance. our officers are trained to do that. you know, i recognize that there are times where we do need to touch individuals for our security mission. and so really what we have been focused on is being as transparent as possible with the information that we put out there as well as i mentioned earlier, the advise mts we give. it's important to advise passenger not only in advance but also while we engage with them and providing a situation so that they're comfortable. that's if they want to have the screening done in a private
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screening room we can do that as well. >> okay. so my concern should not be a concern that someone who, you know, claims to not be touchable because of the trauma that he or she experienced, something happens to make sure that that's legitimate and we're not just dealing with someone using that as an excuse? >> well, we wouldn't question that type of information from an individual. but if they do expss that they have some concern i think we will definitely work with them to accommodate and understand what their concerns are. no one is exempt from the screening requirement. and so dsh but really it's about how we work with them to accommodate them. >> so i know tsa equal employment opportunity programs and affirmative action programs, programs of that nature. i'm wornindering if you have a
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specific program that addresses transgenders and whether or not you employ transgenders as tsos. i'd like to know after you answer that from miss towbin have you encountered any and have they expressed concerns about upward mobility opportunities. ly leave it to miss grigs and miss fits maurice first. >> thank you for your question. to the extent that our transgender employees have informed us that they are transgender, yes, we do have transgender employees on our workforce, and to your -- if you could repeat the second question ma'am i forgot the second question. >> it had to do with whether or not there are transgender tsos. >> yes there are, yes, ma'am. >> and if there were impediments to upward mobility. we have heard from females there may be impediment to upward mobility at the agency but i see the two of you here representing
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the agency. >> yes. >> anyway. >> as it stands right now we are working on a written policy as it relates to our transgender employees and trying to find the right balance between obviously civil rights and liberties of the employees as well as for the traveling public. the other thing i would add is that each situation -- we take it individually. and i think that the airports and the field operations by and large have been working very closely with any transgender employees through any transition and working with them to ensure that they're comfortable, that the workforce is comfortable, you know in order to assure a smoother transition. >> thank you. miss towbin. >> we have heard in the past -- we have seen cases and in fact tsa has had to settle eeo complaints of transgender tsos who faced harassment or work restrictions or other forms of discrimination. sometimes as a matter of either -- of -- of management
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decisions at the airport or elsewhere. that's not something that we have heard in the last few years. >> good. >> and we certainly look forward to the agency clarifying its eeo policy. it lags behind much of the rest of the government in that respect and we certainly see transgender officers in law enforcement and security positions around the country successfully. there is no, you know, special concerns for them interacting with the public. as long as they can do their jobs like everyone else. >> thank you. one last general question. i know that you have two coalitions that you deal with to get feedback and that you -- you inform of the policies and procedures. my question to you is, as you are developing these policies and procedures and considering these policies, do you seek feedback from the coalition partners in that process as
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opposed to at the end of it informing them so that they can therefore educate their communities? >> thank you for your question. yes we absolutely do. i think as part of our regular and consistent engagement with the coalitions we do bring forward any proposed policies or changes that we are considering and -- and absolutely allow for their input on the front end of things. and i think it's also important to inform them of the reasons way we are recommending such policies or you know what is the reason behind things. so we do involve them in the beginning. >> thank you. thank you very much for your responses. i yield back. >> thank you. i would like to thank all three of you for your testimony today. it was very well done, thoughtful and helpful. members of the committee may have some additional questions for the witnesses. and we will ask you to respond to these in writing. as you know i made a request for response in writing in ten days and will follow up with a letter today. you know what we're looking at.
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i appreciate your accommodating that within the ten-day period of time pursuant to rule 70 the hearing record will be held open in ten days without jokes the subcommittee stands adjourned. >> announcer: coming tomorrow at noon eastern, the march for our lives rally against gun violence starts in washington, d.c. see live coverage on our companion network c-span. >> announcer: and saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on book tv on c-span 2 pen steele chronicles the efforts to rebuild western europe following world war ii in his book "the marshal plan" dawn of the cold war. at 11:00 p.m. it's the 2018 national book critic circle awards. saturday on american history tv on c-span3 at 7:0 a p.m. eastern it's nancy pelosi smithsonian
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donation ceremony where she donated artifact from her swearing in in including the speakers gafl, a copy of her speech and the suit she wore. at 10:00 p.m. on real america, the surprise march 31st 1968 oval office speech by president lyndon b. johnson, announcing he would not seek re-election. that's followed by nixon for president campaign film, showing the former vice president meeting voters in new hampshire and wisconsin. sunday on book tv at 7:00 p.m. eastern politico magazine cribbing editor joshua zeitz examines the creation and enactment of lyndon johnson's great society legislation. at 9:00 p.m. eastern on afterwards, human rights campaign press secretary sarah mcbride discusses her life as a transgendered person and lgbtq rights in her book tomorrow will be different. love loss and the fight for transequality. sunday on american history tv at 12: 5 a p.m. eastern remembering the life and legacy of william
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f. berkely jr., the tv personality be, political activist and founder of the national review who died in 2008. at 8:00 p.m. on the presidency, the the relationship between george washington and native americans is examined by author colin callaway in his book the indian world of george washington, the first american and the first americans and the birth of the nation. british foreign secretary boris johnson updated members on the foreign affairs committee about developments in uk foreign policy specifically russia and the recent nerve agent attack. he told lawmakers that the timing of russia's nerve agent attack in the uk was closely connected to the recent presidential election in russia. and later questioned the authenticity of the results of the election. other topics focusesed on whether the government would formerlily boycott the world cup hosted by hash. foreign policy policy in yemen and relations in the


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