TSA Fires Head of Security Operations During Security Line Debacle

But "too late to make a real difference for the summer."
By Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
May 24, 2016 Updated: May 24, 2016

The head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has shaken up the agency’s leadership. 

In a May 23 email to his staff, TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger announced the removal of Kelly Hoggan from the position of Assistant Administrator of the Office of Security Operations, according to the USA Today. 

Darby LaJoye will be Hoggan’s replacement, effective immediately, Neffenger announced. 

In the same email, Neffenger announced that Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has received a new TSA leadership team. 

A long line of travelers wait for the TSA security check point at O'Hare International airport, May 16, 2016, in Chicago. Already faced with lines that snake through terminals out to the curb, fliers are bracing for long waits at security in the busy months of July and August. Some major airports are currently seeing wait times exceeding 90 minutes at peak hours. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)
A long line of travelers wait for the TSA security check point at O’Hare International airport, May 16, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

Neffenger’s leadership shake-up comes just a day before the TSA employee union, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), took out a full-page advertisement in political newspaper, The Hill. The advertisement is pushing Congress for funding to hire 6,000 more TSA agents.

Hoggan has managed the daily operations of more than 50,000 employees at 440 airports nationwide since his appointment in May 2013. 

Despite the leak of an internal investigation by the Department of Homeland Security that revealed the shocking failure of the Security Operations division, Hoggan has received $90,000 in bonuses over a 13-month period.

ABC News reported that undercover investigators were able to smuggle dangerous prohibited objects through checkpoints 95 percent of the time.  

TSA agents failed 67 out of 70 trials put to them. 

Allegations of forced transfers in response to TSA whistle-blowers have also surrounded Hoggan during his tenure as head of security operations. 

TSA whistleblower and assistant federal security director at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Andrew Rhoades, told The New York Times that “the timing of this decision is too late to make a real difference for the summer.”

“Neffenger is only doing this because the media and Congress are making him look bad,” said Rhoades. 

Chicago’s O’Hare has experienced some of the longest security checkpoint lines in the country. On May 16, exorbitantly long lines caused 450 passengers to miss their flights.

Dozens of passengers who could not secure seats on later flights were stranded in O’Hare’s American Airlines terminal and had to sleep on cots.