Top TSA official removed from his position in wake of scrutiny
WASHINGTON — Kelly Hoggan, the Transportation Security Administration’s assistant administrator for the Office of Security Operations, has been removed from his position in the wake of congressional scrutiny.
The change was announced Monday night by the House Oversight Committee’s official Twitter account.
“UPDATE: Kelly Hoggan has been removed from his position as head of security at TSA, following our hearing on May 12 on mismanagement at TSA,” the committee tweeted.
The House Oversight Committee conducted a hearing on TSA’s operations on May 12. At the hearing the TSA Administrator, Peter Neffenger, was questioned why Hoggan was given $90,000 in bonuses when security lines were not improving.
His agency is on the defensive after three former TSA employees testified that they were retaliated against after “directed reassignments,” where employees who have highlighted wrongdoing within the administration are shifted to other assignments.
Neffenger said then that he did not “tolerate” potential retaliation against whistleblowers and pledged to “look into it.”
The TSA declined to comment. But in an internal memo from Neffenger on Monday, the TSA announced several changes to its management.
“These adjustments will enable more focused leadership and screening operations at critical airports in the national transportation system,” Neffenger wrote in the memo, which CNN obtained from an official within the agency.
Neffenger attributed the long lines to the thousands of employees the administration lost in 2014 that they have yet to replace. But much harder to explain was the $90,000 bonus given to Hoggan following a scathing report by Department of Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth that detailed numerous security failures at airports around the country.
Additionally, the bonus paid to Hoggan was doled out in $10,000 increments, leading the committee to believe that the TSA was attempting to be less than transparent, accusing the administration of “smurfing” the payment.
“When I came into this organization last year, I found an organization with 5,800 fewer screeners and it had fewer front-line officers than it had four years previously,” Neffenger said. “And that was in the face of significantly higher traffic volume.”
In regards to the punishment of whistleblowers and the rewarding of poor performances, Neffenger told the committee that although he was not in charge of the TSA when Hoggan’s bonus and others were paid, he’s taken precautions to ensure the practice does not continue.