The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Homeland Security

The Testimony of
Mr. Jeffrey N. Shane
Under Secretary of Transportation Policy, Department of Transportation

It is a pleasure to be here today to discuss transportation security issues. For nearly two years, since that awful day when Secretary Mineta was compelled to ground all aircraft over the United States for the first time in history, the U.S. Department of Transportation has been working with the Department of Homeland Security to make our transportation system more secure. We applaud the committee for holding this hearing, and look forward to continuing to work with you on these critical issues. The monstrous crime perpetrated on America on September 11th crystallized for all of us the importance of enhancing security across our transportation system, and while we have accomplished a great deal since that day, much more can be done.

As we discuss transportation security issues, it is also important, of course, to consider the substantial contribution that the transportation sector makes to our Nation's economy. For example, transportation-related industries currently account for approximately 11 percent of the Nation's GDP and 8 percent of our workforce. Transportation infrastructure and services enable our citizens to get to work or school, visit family, take vacations, and manage their businesses by moving materials, supplies, and products around the world as efficiently as possible, whether domestically or internationally. For all of these reasons, the importance of transportation to America's economic and social well-being cannot be overstated, and that is why maintaining the highest levels of security throughout the system is so critical to our prosperity as a Nation.

Past Accomplishments Secretary Mineta said earlier this year, when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Coast Guard were transferred to the new Department of Homeland Security, that creating TSA was by far the toughest, most challenging, and most satisfying endeavor he had ever undertaken. "Starting from a blank sheet of paper on November 19, 2001," Secretary Mineta said, "we created an agency of more than 60,000 employees that is truly fulfilling its goal of protecting Americans as they travel across our country, and beyond." We all owe a great deal to Secretary Mineta, to former Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson, and certainly to my good friend TSA Administrator Admiral Jim Loy for their unwavering commitment to this country and the superb work they did in creating TSA. Because of their efforts and those of thousands of others, the Department met every congressional deadline on time, and in the process transformed the security of our aviation system within the span of just a few short months.

While much of the focus since September 11th has been on aviation security, and rightfully so, the Department has also been doing a great deal of work with our DHS counterparts in assessing the vulnerabilities and improving the security in our other modes of transportation. For example, the Maritime Administration has worked closely with the Coast Guard and TSA to evaluate security at our Nation's ports and to disseminate two rounds of port security grants, facilitating $262 million in security upgrades as a result. The Federal Transit Administration has also shared its expertise by conducting $30 million in vulnerability assessments and security training of transit operators across the country. Additionally, the Research and Special Programs Administration has worked closely with TSA to ensure that the transportation of hazardous materials fulfills both safety and security requirements.

Finally, I have served personally as a co-chairman of the Executive Steering Committee that oversees the Operation Safe Commerce program. Fifty-eight million dollars in Operation Safe Commerce grants have recently been awarded to the three participating load center ports - Los Angeles/Long Beach, Seattle/Tacoma, and New York/New Jersey. Through these grants we are creating an essential test bed for new technologies designed to provide greater security for freight containers as they move on intermodal journeys through global commerce. Working closely with other federal agencies, these efforts across all other modes of transportation are designed to create a comprehensive system of measures that will provide far greater security across the entire international supply chain than anything we have known before.

Transition to DHS Today, of course, the primary responsibility for maintaining transportation security lies with the Department of Homeland Security. Formed in March of this year, this new Department has allowed formerly diverse security functions spread across the government to come together in a unified structure. Two key pieces of the DHS structure - TSA and the Coast Guard - moved from the Department of Transportation to DHS and continue to play major roles in providing for the Nation's transportation security. The close ties that we have to these two agencies have helped us to establish extremely close links throughout DHS, and we continue working closely with our former colleagues, supporting them every step of the way as they defend our Nation's homeland.

We have taken numerous actions to ensure that this close working relationship continues into the future as well. For example, just prior to the creation of DHS, the Federal Aviation Administration and TSA signed a memorandum of agreement specifying in detail the specific role that each agency would play in overseeing the safety and security of our aviation system. Aviation poses unique challenges, of course, not only because it was used to carry out the September 11th attacks, but also because of the FAA's continuing responsibilities for managing the air traffic control system, and thus helping to secure our airways in times of crisis. Because of these considerations, we believed that it was very important to have a written agreement between DOT and DHS outlining exactly what each Department would be responsible for once TSA moved to the new department, and what we could expect from one another.

We have signed memoranda of agreement in some other areas as well, and will continue to evaluate the need for additional agreements as the need arises. Now that DHS is fully established we will be in a better position to determine what role each of our departments will play in providing security for the other modes of transportation. In addition, we have supplemented these formal MOA's with regular discussions, at various levels, between DOT and DHS on the full range of transportation security issues. One of the things we have done during this transition period to help manage our relationship is a regular meeting that I conduct with senior TSA staff on a bi-weekly basis. These meetings give us the opportunity to coordinate our activities, identify potential issues or problem areas, and ensure that we are providing all the support we can to help TSA in securing our Nation's transportation system.

Finally, another step we have taken is to designate a single point of contact for DHS and other agencies to access information about the transportation system, tap into the network of contacts we have with our stakeholders, or learn from our technical expertise in dealing with complex issues like the transport of hazardous materials. Our Office of Intelligence and Security has been designated as this formal point of contact and has played a key role in helping DOT support DHS on a number of critical issues in recent months. A good example of the benefit of this single point of contact was our experience with the recent suspension of the Transit Without Visa (TWOV) program in response to credible intelligence that terrorists intended to take advantage of this program to carry out additional attacks on the United States. DOT's Office of Intelligence and Security ensured that DHS had the information it needed to determine what the impact of that shutdown would be and helped it deal with the airline industry to ensure a smooth shutdown of the program.

Future Challenges and DOT's Role in Security While some assume that security simply moved to DHS when TSA and the Coast Guard departed earlier this year, there is no question that DOT can continue to make important contributions to the development and implementation of transportation security policy. Recent GAO reports have documented that significant challenges remain in transportation security, and suggest that more coordination between TSA and DOT is needed. The Department's Office of Intelligence and Security provides that coordination service to the Secretary, while also representing the Department on over forty security policy working groups.

The Department of Transportation's mission is to ensure safety, mobility and the economic viability of the transportation system. Security is a fundamental element of each of these three key mission areas. To effectively integrate security into transportation decision-making, five enduring functions remain within DOT. They are: security policy development; transportation system design; intelligence; operations; and readiness, including plans and exercises.

One other important role that the Department can play is in regards to the operation of transportation systems. The blackout that occurred last month proved a good example of the Department of Transportation's unique ability to quickly assess the state of the transportation sector in multiple cities. This was done through our real-time communications network with state, local and industry stakeholders. This information proved crucial to DHS and other federal decision-makers as the crisis rapidly unfolded.

Finally, there is one additional reason why DOT must be at the table during security emergencies. Our modal administrations have decades of experience in responding to all kinds of emergencies - floods, hurricanes, blizzards, blackouts and hazardous material spills. This operational expertise will remain an essential ingredient in our Nation's emergency response capability, and this "all hazard" approach is consistent with the National Response Plan currently under development.

In this post-September 11th world, security has become a prerequisite to the development of an effective transportation system. Just think, for example, about how many fewer people might be flying today were it not for the decisive steps that were taken in the months after September 11th to tighten security throughout our Nation's aviation system. The Department of Transportation continues to support the development of intelligent security policies. If it is not secure, then it is not safe and will not be good for our economy.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear here today. I look forward to answering your questions.

# # #

Join the mailing list

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias