TSA reorganization seeks closer focus on specific modes

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With several key senior appointments in the past few months and a charge from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Transportation Security Administration is in the midst of a major reorganization to focus more closely on specific modes of transportation.

The new organization will include general managers specifically for aviation, highway, maritime, rail and pipelines, said Mike Restovich, an acting assistant director at TSA. “TSA is building a single, cohesive new team,” Restovich said. “The new TSA will be much more streamlined.”

The agency, created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Restovich said the agency will focus on four key areas.

“First, we’re making an investment in technology and in our operation planning based on risk assessment,” he said. Highway Watch is an example, Restovich said.

Second, the agency will change its protocols and programs to “avoid giving terrorists an advantage based on our own predictability,” Restovich said. To this end, the agency has begun conducting security reviews with state transportation agencies and others.

Third, the agency will try to keep terrorists out of the transportation system through such measures as passenger screening and background checks for hazmat drivers. “Before 9/11, America’s two most deadly terrorist attacks involved trucks,” Restovich said.

Finally, TSA is building a global information network to share information across all modes of transportation and to share intelligence across all agencies.

“We will renew our emphasis on sharing intelligence at every level of government,” Restovich said. “When that bump in the night occurs, as it surely will, we all need to be ready to react. We know terrorists will seek to exploit weaknesses in our transportation system. Terrorists will adapt to those weaknesses.”