Last week, John S. Pistol announced he will retire as the Transportation Security Administrator at the end of the year. Here are my reflections on what Pistole accomplished as Administrator.
“Hard work,” “Professionalism,” “Integrity” these words point like true north to what a public servant ought to be, can be, and will be. This is evidenced by the more than thirty year Federal career of outgoing TSA Administrator John Pistole. In his first address to his last address, and anytime in between, John Pistole used these words whenever speaking with the employees of TSA.
The critics and cynics will say they are just words, a gimmick, for show. Not to John Pistole. He lives these words and brought them to the TSA, changing a culture.
Prior to his arrival, if an employee were asked where they worked, they would state DHS. Four years later, when asked where they work, they proudly state, TSA. John Pistole made it okay to work for TSA, okay to be a public servant.
Thirty years of living these words and putting them into practice drove significant achievements involving seemingly incompatible concepts.
Every administrator before him had determined that providing security and allowing employees to unionize was incompatible. Yet after listening to all stakeholders and studying the issue, John Pistole formulated a novel new structure that granted employees bargaining rights and led to improved security.
Likewise, it is often stated that in order to increase security, we must sacrifice our civil liberties. Despite this, John Pistole has given meaning to the words Risk-Based Security. By leveraging intelligence, technology, and the law, TSA has executed Risk-Based initiatives benefiting passengers every day. The programs implemented have both increased security and protected our civil liberties.
A career of hard work, professionalism, and integrity also provided a bulwark against the fierce partisanship and maneuvering for political capitol. When appropriate, Mr. Pistole pushed back against misinformation and inaccuracies directed at his Agency and employees. He went to the mat for those in the arena.
Hard work, Professionalism, Integrity, the proof is in the pudding. Reduced budgets, fewer employees, more passengers, smaller wait times, and improved security.