Business Review Board / May 24, 2016

TSA Shuffles Leadership in Response to Long Security Lines

It’s an effort to do something, anything before summer travel takes off.

In response to the long security lines that recently left thousands of airline passengers stranded, the TSA is shaking things up. According to NBC News, the assistant administrator for security operations has been given new duties and a deputy assistant TSA administrator named Darby LaJoye is moving into the role. However, the fact no one was fired is cockamamie but not exactly surprising. NBC also reports that terminations at the executive level are exceedingly rare: “The agency … has terminated one executive in the past five years.” The reshuffling is an effort to do something, anything before summer travel takes off. Remember when a similar move happened in response to the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal in which veterans died waiting for care? The Obama administration brought on former CEO Bob McDonald to clean up the agency. These days, he’s saying waiting for VA care is fun — like waiting in line at Disneyland.

Part of the problem of the impossibly long security lines is regulation. In the response to the 9/11 terrorist attack, all manner of objects were banned from flights. In 2013, the TSA proposed relaxing the rules governing what Americans could pack in their carry-on bags by allowing small knives back on flights. The thinking was to free up TSA agents to concentrate their efforts on actual threats, like bombs. Yet Democrats and the airline industry fought the proposal because they were scared of the idea of giving Americans the freedom of taking their personal knives wherever they traveled. The TSA withdrew the rule change, and TSA agents must continue to jump through all the regulatory hoops — missing real security threats — while the lines snake longer.

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