Before leaving town for the August recess on Thursday, August 3rd, senators unanimously voted to approve David Pekoske to be Transportation Security Administration (TSA) administrator – the 7th administrator of the agency since its creation in 2001. Unlike the Federal Aviation administrator, the TSA administrator does not have a 5-year term, once confirmed. Perhaps it’s time to revisit the need for a term.
When we created the TSA (for those needing a refresher on my background) we deliberately chose not to provide a term. A few years earlier, we had provided a 5-year term for the FAA leader, and watched as the administrator, originally appointed by President Clinton, served a portion of her term under President Bush. It was not an ideal situation for the administration and for the administrator.
The current FAA administrator has been placed in the same situation. Yet, having worked with many of the administrators over the years, both Republican and Democratic, all recognized the importance of the mission and the necessity to succeed. It is one of the harder positions in government, with failure not an option.
Going forward, the new administrator will have his hands full in trying to refresh the technology used for screening and to meet the growing demands at our airports and transit agencies. The need to expand the services provided will not come cheaply. In transit, for example, working directly with transit agencies will be critical as new technologies come on line to meet the burgeoning risk. The work requires many skills and long hours, and can provide its share of twists and turns. Congress and the traveling public want to make sure that security is addressed, and the new administrator appears to be keenly aware of that, as he stated during his confirmation hearing that he hopes to improve the agency from top to bottom.