New TSA chief vows to make 'necessary changes' after failed bomb tests

New TSA chief vows to make 'necessary changes' after failed bomb tests
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New Transportation Security Administration chief Peter Neffenger promised on Monday to make "necessary changes" to improve the agency after its agents failed to find fake bombs in security tests at almost all of America's busiest airports.

"We'll develop the right measures of effectiveness to drive a continuous focus on security," Neffenger said in a speech to TSA workers after being sworn-in on Monday. 

"We'll build a culture of adaptation, one that constantly questions assumptions, plans and processes and is able to rapidly field new concepts, new performance standards and new capabilities," he continued. "And finally, we'll deliver on an effective security system and sustain the confidence of the traveling public through competence, discipline, performance and professionalism."    

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Neffenger was tapped by President Obama in April to lead the agency after the failed security tests. He was quickly approved for the TSA chief position by the Senate after the failings became public in an effort to quell concerns among passengers about the safety of flying. 

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said prior to swearing in Neffenger that he is challenging the new TSA chief "to be an energetic leader and to not hesitate to think out of the box, rethink old assumptions, encourage your people, your subordinates, to raise ideas and points of view and make hard choices when you have to." 

Johnson said he is confident that Neffenger is up to the job. 

"Pete Neffenger is one of the brightest and most capable military officers I've ever met," he said. "I know he will be a strong and effective leader of TSA. I salute him for stepping away from a distinguished and successful career in the Coast Guard, retiring to civilian life and taking on this other very demanding job serving his country." 

Neffenger said Monday that he accepts the challenge from Johnson. 

"We will make the necessary changes, we will reassess old assumptions and we will make tough choices, ones that our mission demands," he said. 

The TSA has faced intense scrutiny since the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general documented in May a series of undercover stings in which agents tried to pass through security with prohibited items.

They made it through in nearly all the tests — 67 of 70 — including one instance in which a TSA screener failed to find a fake bomb, even after the undercover agent set off a magnetometer. The screener reportedly let the agent through with the fake bomb taped to his back, having missed it during a pat-down.

The TSA’s acting administrator, Melvin Carraway, was removed from office after the findings became public.