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SIA's Standards Committee gets new leader


BETHESDA, Md.—The Security Industry Association on April 28 announced that Steve Van Till, president and CEO of software as a service (SaaS) provider Brivo, has been appointed to the position of chair of SIA's Standards Committee.

UTC Fire & Security appoints new prez, launches new brand


HARTFORD, Conn.—On March 29, United Technologies Corp. announced the appointment of Scott Buckhout, as president of UTC Fire & Security. Buckhout has held senior UTC Fire & Security management roles, including president of the systems & fire fighting business in the Europe-Middle East-Africa region and most recently serving as president, global fire products.

DVTel CEO looks to ‘manage growth and scale business'


RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J.—Yoav Stern told Security Systems News, the sister publication of Security Director News, that he expects his experience in “global growth management, M&A, homeland security, and managing in many different cultural environments,” will help him in his new role as CEO and president of DVTel.

The strategies of choosing a new security provider


THE INTERNET—Choosing a new security provider can be a turbulent time for any organization, but it can be especially challenging in the aviation environment. One of the keys to a smooth transition with a new provider is to ensure that the management styles mesh, said John Dean, senior manager of aviation security at the Portland International Airport in Oregon, which recently switched security providers.

Pistole's rounding third, heading for home?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I just finished listening to the Webcast of John Pistole's second round of committee hearings, this one before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (you can watch too, just click on the 'view archive webcast' link).

It's looking pretty good for Pistole, I must say. The chairman of the committee, Sen. Joe Lieberman, more or less praised him for his work at the FBI and said he had the right credentials and experience to take on this leadership role.

This committee hearing felt a lot less 'gotcha' than the hearing with the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation last week. While those senators obviously approved of his nomination as they voted unanimously for him, there was considerable discussion about collective bargaining, the use of technology and other controversial subjects that subsequently caused his predecessors to withdraw.

While at the end of the HSGA hearing, Sen. Susan Collins did bring up the collective bargaining issue, she seemed okay with the fact that Pistole really didn't answer her questions. He once again reiterated that he would need to conduct a more thorough investigation with stakeholders on this subject before making a decision. However, he likely appeased her by reminding everyone that during his 27 years at the FBI, there was no unionization or collective bargaining rights (so is it assumed he wouldn't put that in place at the TSA? We'll just have to wait and see, I guess).

Pistole outlined his top priorities, were he to be confirmed. Not surprisingly, his first priority is improving the TSA's intelligence program:

"I would ensure the TSA is a threat- and risk-based, intelligence-driven agency that's not only able to pull information, but also that information is pushed out on a daily basis," he said.

His second focus would be work-force development issues:

"I want to ensure work with all the employees of TSA to hear their concerns and make sure they have the tools, techniques, training and technology to do the best job possible," Pistole said.

This hearing didn't just focus on aviation security, but also included concerns regarding other forms of transit. Sen. Lieberman asked Pistole what about his general assessment of the threat to rail and transit systems.

"There are a number of threats," said Pistole. "If confirmed, I would ensure a comprehensive rail and surface threat assessment was completed - there are portions of it done already. I would also ensure resources are where threats are, and we can’t be everything to all people, but make sure we're allocating resources based on risk."

There was also discussion about technology: "I would make sure operational testing done sufficiently to assess if it's the best technology available today," he said.

And information sharing: "There's a dynamic tension between who to share information with and how much. Part of the challenges comes down to case-by-case determination, but try to find the best way forward," he said.

All in all, the senators seemed to approve of Pistole's answers, so it looks like he'll be making it to the Senate floor for a full vote. You know he has a pretty good chance when Sen. Lieberman says this: "Our goal is to make sure you get confirmed before we break for the July 4 recess, so hopefully we'll get you out of the committee sometime next week and passed on the floor as soon thereafter as possible."

And this: "There's an old saying that the third time's a charm," said Sen. Tom Carper during the hearing. "This time, I certainly hope so."

Hear, hear.

What Pistole can expect at confirmation hearing, per Erroll Southers

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tomorrow is the first of two Senate confirmation hearings for the third (yes, THIRD) nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration. On June 10, FBI Deputy Director John Pistole is likely to face some of the same scrutiny that his failed predecessors faced and will have to answer the same questions that led to their demise.

As a quick refresher, Erroll Southers (nominee number one) endured a five-month long nomination process before withdrawing on Jan. 20. Basically, his nomination became a political brawl over the possibility that, if confirmed, Southers would grant TSA employees collective bargaining rights. Those unionization concerns, coupled with reports that he misused his power when he conducted background checks of the boyfriend of his ex-wife, resulted in the stalemate of his confirmation process.

The second nominee, retired Army Major Gen. Robert Harding, on the other hand, only lasted 18 days before withdrawing his name after issues involving his work as a defense contractor arose during his confirmation hearing.

So, what's in store for Pistole tomorrow?

Now, I usually don't link to (or even acknowledge, for that matter) our competing publications, but this time, I think it's worth it. published an interview with one of those former nominees, Erroll Southers discussing what he thinks Pistole will face.

On the topic of collective bargaining rights, Southers believes Pistole will take the same approach as he did:

"I would assume that he would take the position that I took and that General Harding took, which is one of a comprehensive assessment to determine what kind of impact that kind of action would have on the organization and whether or not it would be prudent to make that kind of recommendation to the Secretary or to the President," Southers told

Here's more advice from Southers:
Outside the issue of collective bargaining, Southers stressed he would advise any incoming leader of a large organization to focus on three elements of the organization--people, partnerships, and the public.

"I would never profess to suggest how a nominee should proceed," the professor emphasized, but focusing on those elements would lead TSA to success.

First, the people of TSA, regardless of the issue of collective bargaining, need support and opportunities to develop and advance, Southers said.

Second, TSA must foster strong local, state, federal, and international partnerships to accomplish its missions.

"TSA deals with a transnational threat. In that regard, policies need to be harmonized, relationships built, and resources leveraged from all over the globe to make the organization successful at the end of the day," Southers commented.

Finally, TSA must engage the public to educate them and raise awareness as to TSA's goals and methods.

"In those societies that are more resilient to terrorism like the UK and Israel, people tend to be more supportive when they become part of the system. We could accomplish that if the public is educated about policies, practices, procedures, and changes in those things that are going to affect them as a traveler," noted Southers, who also serves as managing director of counterterrorism and infrastructure protection for international security consulting firm Tal Global Corp.

I would say those all seem like reasonable and achievable goals and Pistole would be wise to adopt them, but, above all, what the TSA really needs is strong leadership.

Or wait, what it actually needs is any leadership at all. My goodness, let's just get someone in there and stop messing around. After all, third time's a charm, right?

Check back for reports from Pistole's hearing tomorrow...

Another TSA nominee bites the dust

Monday, March 29, 2010

It only took two and a half weeks after President Obama nominated retired Army Major Gen. Robert Harding to lead the Transportation Security Administration for him to withdraw.

This New York Times article cites issues with the finances of Harding's company:

General Harding’s bid for the job fell apart after reports that his company had collected more federal money than it was entitled to for providing interrogators in Iraq.

Like $1.8 million too much. Well, actually an audit questioned about $2.4 million paid to the firm, but his company only had to pay back $1.8 million to make it right. There are also questions about a $100 million contract as well.

Granted, we don't want people in the government who have been accused of stealing from the government, but there's also been discussion that the scrutiny of the Senate's confirmation process has now kept this position vacant for a year and two months now.

You may recall that Erroll Southers couldn't overcome issues that he had misused his power while in a former position, not to mention that there were concerns he may give collective bargaining rights to TSOs.

Frankly, it's gotten to the point that we have to get someone to take on the leadership of this embattled agency. Especially as issues of full-body scanners and intelligence issues continue to plague the TSA, it would be great if there was someone to make some decisions. Although I think Gale Rossides has been doing a great job as Acting Administrator (I saw a hearing with her on CSPAN and was impressed with her), but without that full title I think she's fairly limited in her leadership abilities. Perhaps this second withdrawal will inspire Obama to give her the job. She probably knows it better than anyone at this point, but perhaps she doesn't want the gig either.

I've spoken with a lot of aviation folks who maintain that nobody out there wants that job, and now I think that's starting to become fairly evident. But there must be somebody out there who's qualified to lead this agency, who hasn't stolen from the government or misused their power who might be willing to take on what is bound to be a highly-scrutinized position? Your guess is as good as mine.

New ASIS prez outlines plans for 2010


ALEXANDRIA, Va.—A new year brings fresh leadership to the largest association of security professionals. Joseph Granger, director of security for United Space Alliance space shuttle operations at Kennedy Space Center, assumed the presidency of ASIS International on Jan. 1 and told Security Director News that while he doesn’t foresee big changes for the association in the upcoming year, 2010 will continue to present challenges for security professionals.

TSA under fire - maybe they need a dose of leadership?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dunno how I missed this one, but here's an article that appeared last week in USA Today about the General Inspector concluding that the Transportation Security Administration is failing to comply with cargo-screening mandates.

On Feb. 9, 2009, the TSA was required per a Congressional mandate to screen 50 percent of all cargo transported aboard passenger planes. The mandate will also require the TSA to screen 100 percent of all cargo transported on passenger planes by August 2010 (TSA officials said that "100 percent of all cargo transported on narrow-body passenger aircraft is already being screened." Read more about that here).

But according to this article, it ain't quite so:

Investigators were able to slip into supposedly secure warehouses where cargo is stored before being loaded onto airplanes and walk around unchallenged, the report says. Inspector General Richard Skinner also found some workers who handle the cargo had not received required background checks or training.

That's obviously not good. No one should be walking around in secure warehouses, but keep in mind that the estimated 12 million pounds of cargo loaded onto passenger planes every day is not actually screened by the TSA. Rather, the TSA is suppose to oversee entities such as airlines, freight handlers and manufacturers to ensure that cargo is properly secured. Once the cargo is screened, it is then suppose to be kept in a secured location until it's loaded onto the plane. But, the report says that the TSA "has not been effective" in making airlines and freight-handling companies comply with security rules for cargo.

In addition to not properly following procedures, apparently the TSA doesn't have enough personnel to handle the new mandates for cargo screening (AND the personnel they do have, are not properly trained).

So does this mean that the TSA is failing in a big way? I think undoubtedly, there's obvious improvements to be made. Even the TSA acting Administrator Gale Rossides says that agency leaders "are in agreement" that the problems should be addressed.

However, it's not like there's very strong leadership there at the TSA. I'm not saying Rossides is doing a bad job, but isn't it time there was actually someone in charge? I mean how long does it take to approve Erroll Southers' nomination? I've heard nothing but good things about the man. (Well, except for that one hitch about running an unauthorized background check on his ex-wife’s boyfriend. But, come on, that was in the 80s - I'm sure we can get over that.) Let's get it together, people. If you want something to get done, you gotta make sure the right people are in charge. You know better.

Out with the old ...

Monday, September 29, 2008

At the ASIS conference a few weeks back (Jeez ... it still feels like it was yesterday. But that's probably because I keep having repeated dreams about being stuck in the convention center with all those escalators.) Michael R. Cummings was elected to be ASIS International's president in 2009. Cummings succeeds Tim Williams, who will become ASIS chairman of the board.

Both Cummings and Williams will also serve on the Board Management Committee of the Board of Directors. The Board Management Committee directs the activities of ASIS between meetings of the full Board. These volunteer leaders maintain the strategic continuity to the programs, products and services ASIS provides.

Sworn in at the same time as new members to the Board of Directors, the 2009 ASIS Board Management Committee is comprised of five people:
Michael R. Cummings, CPP, President; he is Director of Loss Prevention Services for Aurora Health Care; Joseph R. Granger, CPP, President-elect; he is Security Director, United Space Alliance; Raymond T. O'Hara, CPP, Treasurer; he is Senior Vice President, Andrews International;Eduard J. Emde, CPP, Secretary; he is Manager Consultancy for Interseco; and Tim Williams, CPP, Chairman of the Board; he is Director of Global Security, Caterpillar.

Also, two new members were elected and one existing member was re-elected, to serve on the 15-member Board of Directors for the 2009-2011 term. The new directors are:
John A. Petruzzi Jr., CPP, Vice President, Corporate Security/Emergency Management, Simon Property Group; and Richard Y. Yamamoto, CPP, Director, Corporate Security and Safety, Fannie Mae. In addition to the Board Management Committee, the following members will continue to serve on the Board of Directors:
Marene Allison, Vice President of Security, Medco
Chad Callaghan, CPP, Vice President, Enterprise Loss Prevention, Marriott International Inc.
Geoff Craighead, CPP, Vice President, High Rise & Real Estate Services for Securitas Security Services USA
David C. Davis, CPP, Director, Division Security for Northrop Grumman
Kaj Moller, Corporate Security Manager, Novo Nordisk
Dave N. Tyson, CPP, Senior Director of Information Security, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning, eBay
Gregory L. Sanders, CPP, Security Advisor for United Nations Development Programme
Richard E. Widup Jr., CPP, Senior Director, Security Operations/Corporate Security for Purdue Pharma LP

ASIS Board members serve a three-year term. The newly elected Board and officers will assume their positions on Jan. 1, 2009.