September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Transportation Research Board Remarks For The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta Secretary Of Transportation Transportation Research Board Chairman's Luncheon Washington, D.C.12:00 PM; January 16, 2002

Transportation Research Board Remarks For The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta Secretary Of Transportation Transportation Research Board Chairman's Luncheon Washington, D.c. January 16, 2002 12:00 PM

Thank you, Bruce, for that generous introduction. I had the chance to work with the Transportation Research Board, and with many of you, during my tenure on the House [of Representatives] Public Works and Transportation Committee. I look forward to continuing that productive working relationship as Secretary of Transportation.

All of us here understand that we have entered a new era in transportation, an era in which a determined enemy has challenged one of America's most cherished freedoms -- namely, the freedom of mobility.

To address that challenge, on November 19th, President Bush signed legislation creating the new Transportation Security Administration within the Department of Transportation [DOT].

In just a few months, the TSA will have hired tens of thousands of new employees to screen passengers and baggage at 429 airports nationwide. We will have put in place employee background screening tools in aviation, maritime and surface transportation. With our public and private sector partners, we will strengthen virtually every mode of transportation based upon comprehensive security assessments.

Standing up the TSA is, in short, a uniquely ambitious and important enterprise.

People are the key to the success of this mission. On that score, we are off to a great start. President Bush has named an extraordinary man to lead the TSA as Under Secretary of Transportation for Security -- John Magaw.

As a career law enforcement and security professional with the U.S. Secret Service, John helped protect eight Presidents. Now, he is working shoulder to shoulder with me, Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson, and my entire senior management team at DOT to recruit and retain highly competent men and women -- people who will be proud of their service to their country, and worthy of their Nation's pride.

We are looking for experience, people who are stress-tested -- individuals who can step in right away and take charge. We are looking for maturity of judgment, steadiness in a crisis, leaders who can in turn attract top professionals in the field.

We are creating a flat organizational structure at the TSA with well-trained front-line managers, and supporting them with an array of services deployed from Washington. We will avoid regional bosses and bureaucratic bloat, emphasizing instead front-line service delivery.

We will have overlapping, mutually reinforcing layers of security, some of which are seen, like screening stations, while others remain unseen, like intelligence, undercover work and state-of-the-art technology tools.

We will maintain a core commitment to measure performance relentlessly, building a security regime that provides both world-class security, and world-class customer service, to the traveling public.

To jumpstart work on critical tasks, we initially created eight "Go-Teams" to work intensively on specific tasks, present decision options, and then disband. Some of these have successfully completed their tasks and moved on.

At present, we have some 36 Go-Teams launched and operating. They cover a thousand details small and large -- from what uniforms the TSA security force will wear, to the procurement, installation and maintenance of explosive detection equipment for 429 airports.

In addition, we have teams doing detailed process maps for key assets that must be protected in air transportation: passengers, cargo, people working in and moving through airports, and physical assets such as aircraft and terminal facilities.

Overseeing all of this activity is an eight-person DOT Management Committee that I chair.

The process itself entails consultation and participation by many outside groups -- airlines, airport executives, labor unions, screening companies, airport vendors, airplane and security equipment manufacturers, trade associations and experts of many sorts.

Such consultation will begin to reach a new pitch of activity in the next month. I have made a personal commitment to conduct a monthly briefing on our progress with Congressional appropriators and authorizers. We are also operating in close coordination with the White House, especially with the Office of Homeland Security.

To protect vital security protocols, the details of some steps we are taking must, of course, remain classified. We will simply not discuss certain safety-sensitive details that would make it easier for terrorists to attack innocent people.

But, where I can, let me offer a bit of a progress report.

Prior to passage of the TSA legislation, DOT and FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] had already started strengthening security measures at airports. We have deployed a substantially expanded number of Federal Air Marshals and are training an even larger force. In addition, the airlines have completed cockpit door reinforcement system-wide.

Looking forward, the legislation creating TSA specifies more than two dozen deadlines, reports, tasks or other such deliverables. Inside DOT, I have given a simple mandate covering each deadline: let's figure out how to get it done because they are not negotiable.

We met the statutory deadlines for the actions required thirty days following enactment. For the sixty-day point, which will be on Friday of this week, we will again meet each statutory deadline. These deadlines are a natural and important point of reference for the public, but they do not tell the whole story of what is happening with the TSA.

As Congress recognized in the legislation, it is simply impossible to flip a switch and deploy more than 30,000 federal employees at once.

We will deploy the TSA with care, terminal by terminal, airport by airport. At the peak this summer, we may well be managing some phase of the start-up at over 100 airports simultaneously. Before the end of this year, we must have completed the transition to a full federal workforce at all 429 airports.

Last month, we announced the qualifications for the new screeners. Following the language of the law, these new screeners will be citizens of the United States and have either a high school education or equivalent work experience that demonstrates their ability to do the job.

They must pass tough new background and security checks, including criminal history checks. They must read, write and speak English well enough to communicate clearly with passengers undergoing screening. And they must have the physical abilities, as measured by a medical examination, and the basic aptitudes, as measured by tough new proficiency tests, to do the work.

We will extend a hiring preference to veterans of America's armed forces and to those workers furloughed from aviation jobs as a result of the terrorist attacks.

None of these new airline security candidates will assume their job responsibilities until they have completed 40 hours of classroom training and 60 hours of on-the-job training and passed an on-the-job training examination. We will provide more details of this rigorous training program on Friday.

The key to our success at airports nationwide will be a core of senior managers, the Federal Security Directors. These FSDs are the strong front-line managers who will bring federal authority directly to the point of service, the airport.

We have partnered with a leading executive search firm, Korn Ferry, to manage the recruiting and screening process of FSDs for the largest airports. I expect that we will have the first group of FSDs hired in about a month.

Many first-rate firms have offered us resources to use for a number of months. Our legal and ethics advisors have constructed a program which allows us to accept these offers of support from companies like Fluor, A.T. Kearney, Disney, Solectron, as well as Marriott, Intel, and FedEx.

These Senior Advisors will work side by side with members of our leadership team for an average of six to nine months to help design the processes and measurements that will comprise the work of the TSA. They will help us address questions like how to manage long lines of people efficiently, how to empower field offices in a distributed organization, how to best roll out new airport operations, and many more.

I am pleased to announce that, beginning immediately, TSA will work with the state of Maryland to use Baltimore-Washington International Airport {BWI] as a site to study airport security operations, test TSA deployment techniques and technology, and begin to train senior managers for the TSA.

I have been to BWI numerous times since September 11th, just to watch and learn. FAA has a terrific, dedicated team there, led by Amy Becke, who has already taught me a lot. I spoke this week to Governor Parris Glendening, who has pledged his full support of making BWI a model. The airlines at BWI have similarly stepped up to help.

I know there is a great deal of interest about the requirement regarding checked bag screening. Working with the airlines, we have taken the necessary action to meet this requirement, using the full menu of options provided for in the law.

Every available EDS machine will be used to its maximum capacity. Where we do not yet have EDS resources in place, we will use other options outlined in the law.

On originating flights, baggage will be matched to its passenger. Computers will screen passengers, and passengers will be screened for weapons -- often multiple times.

In addition, more bags will also be subject to sniffing by trained dogs, to more comprehensive screening by both explosive-detection and explosive trace detection devices, to manual searches, or to a combination of those techniques.

We will continuously upgrade our screening capability, ultimately meeting the requirement that each checked bag be screened by an explosive detection system by the end of this year.

We have retained McKinsey & Co., the management consultants, to help us think through the issues involved with meeting that December 31, '02 deadline. We are looking at a wide variety of innovative approaches using technology, different ways to run the check-in process, and procurement strategies that can get us to the goal.

In addition to the bag-screening requirement, there are several other statutory deadlines that we will meet this week:

The FAA has written a set of guidelines for flight crews who face threats onboard an aircraft. We will issue that report to the appropriate parties on time.

We will soon begin receiving electronically transmitted foreign aircraft passenger manifests from the Bureau of Customs.

We will also release our screener-training plan on time as well. The plan was written with input from around the government and leading private sector training experts.

We consider the law's tight deadlines as promises made to the American people, and we will do everything humanly possible to keep these promises.

Again, let me be clear: we are building an airline security system staffed by dedicated and competent federal aviation security agents, led by highly experienced senior security and law enforcement professionals.

The system will be robust and redundant, and we will be relentless in our search for improvements. It is better today than yesterday; and it will be better still tomorrow.

Now, as anyone involved in planning a major exercise like the one before us knows, sometimes ideas that look great on paper do not transfer into practice all that smoothly.

In fact, since we announced our zero tolerance policy on October 30 of last year, FAA special agents have ordered the evacuation of U.S. airport terminals on more than 30 different occasions, not counting a number of evacuations conducted by airports themselves.

Some media commentators suggest that these evacuations indicate ongoing problems with aviation security. I believe that just the opposite is true.

These evacuations reflect the heightened standards of our zero tolerance policy, and show the FAA's willingness to take swift and immediate action to protect travelers against any and all breaches of security. That zero-tolerance policy will continue.

While much of the recent media attention has focused on aviation safety, the Transportation Security Administration will work to develop heightened security procedures and awareness across every mode of transportation including rail, highways, transit, maritime and pipeline.

Across every mode, we must continue to develop measures to increase the protection of critical transportation assets, addressing freight as well as passenger transportation.

Finally, there is one more vitally important element of our plan that I want to mention -- you.

The Transportation Research Board [TRB] occupies a unique role in this effort. It promotes innovation and progress in transportation by stimulating and conducting research, disseminates vital information, and encourages the broad implementation of research results.

At no time since the TRB's inception has this mission taken on more importance than it does today. Now, more than ever, we must draw upon your expertise to meet the extraordinary transportation challenges facing our nation.

In times past, when challenging and complex situations faced the United States, our best minds have responded with advanced technology to meet our national needs. Once again, I know we can count on you to answer the call. Thank you, travel safely, and God bless America.

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