The head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) outlined today the young agency’s accomplishments and the projects it will carry Saturday from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Homeland Security.
“We will always be grateful for the tremendous leadership and support shown by Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and many others at Transportation,” said Under Secretary of Transportation for Security Adm. James M. Loy. “Thanks to Secretary Mineta’s vision, the flying public is safer and their confidence in air travel is being restored.”
Loy said TSA’s success has helped rebuild air travelers’ confidence in aviation security. One million more travelers flew this January than in January of 2002, he noted.
TSA, the brainchild of Secretary Mineta and Deputy Transportation Secretary Michael P. Jackson, was officially created Nov. 19, 2001 when President Bush signed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act in response to the terrorist attacks of 9-11.
Loy said the TSA met 36 mandates set down by Congress – including screening all passengers by the TSA’s first anniversary and all baggage by Dec. 31, 2003 – while developing a fully functioning agency of about 64,000 employees.
The TSA hired 158 federal security directors who are responsible for the nation’s 429 commercial airports; deployed thousands of federal air marshals; done background checks on about 1 million workers who have access to secure areas of airports; and reduced wait times and other “hassles” for air travelers, fulfilling Secretary Norma Y. Mineta’s vision of delivering world-class customer service as well as world-class security.
The TSA is one of 22 federal agencies being transferred to Homeland Security, the new Cabinet-level department led by Secretary Tom Ridge.
In June, TSA awarded $92 million in port security grants
. New grant programs include another $105 million for ports, $15 million in over-the-road bus security grants, and $28 million for Operation Safe Commerce – a collaboration with the Customs Service to testing technologies for container seals and long-distance vessel tracking
. Other programs the TSA will continue to develop include giving pilots firearms training to protect the cockpit, enhancing the computerized system for screening passengers, and working with Congress on the Transportation Worker Identification Credential.
At the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA will join ranks with agencies like the Border Patrol, Customs Service and Coast Guard. “Thanks to the support of our colleagues in DOT, the TSA is ready to join our new partners in fighting – and winning – the war on terror,” Loy said.