Following a series of security failures and excessively long lines at airport checkpoints, the Transportation Security Administration’s assistant administrator for the Office of Security Operations has been removed from his position. The House Oversight Committee confirmed the removal of the TSA’s head of security on Monday after questioning why he had received $90,000 in bonuses during a hearing last week.
On May 12, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing on TSA operations in light of the recent long security lines suffered at multiple major airports throughout the U.S., including Chicago, New York, and New Jersey. During the hearing, the committee asked TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger why his head of security, Kelly Hoggan, had received more than $90,000 in bonuses and awards while repeatedly failing security checks and allowing airplane passengers to miss their flights due to long wait times at airport security.
In a letter to the TSA, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey wrote, “The patience of the flying public has reached a breaking point…we can no longer tolerate the continuing inadequacy of TSA passenger screening services.”
Neffenger blamed part of the problem on the fact that fewer people applied for the government’s PreCheck program than previously anticipated. The Orwellian program allows passengers to submit to a background check prior to arriving at the airport.
“The flight only took two hours, but you had to get to the airport two hours early, you know, to get through the security line, which is kind of unfortunate,” traveler Heidi Kerns told CBSNews.
Last year, Acting TSA Administrator Melvin Carraway was removed from his position after undercover Homeland Security agents successfully smuggled dozens of fake explosives and banned weapons through airport security checkpoints. With a failure rate of 96%, Carraway was reassigned to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters while his acting deputy director had been assigned take over his responsibilities.
Named the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Security Operations in May 2013, Hoggan received awards and bonuses in $10,000 increments throughout 2013 and 2014, which led the House Oversight Committee to suspect the TSA were “smurfing” the $90,000 payment to Hoggan while security failures continued to amass. According to Neffenger, Hoggan has recently been replaced on an acting basis by his deputy, Darby LaJoye.
“Darby LaJoye will serve as the Acting Assistant Administrator of the Office of Security Operations,” Neffenger wrote in a memo addressed to TSA senior leaders. “Darby LaJoye is an experienced Federal Security Director with successful leadership tours at two of the nation’s largest airports, Los Angeles International Airport in California and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.”
Hoggan’s name was never directly mentioned in the memo, and the TSA has not yet disclosed where he will be reassigned.