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Next for Naccara: TSA’s Multimodal Future

Mar 01, 20063 mins
Access ControlCSO and CISOInvestigation and Forensics

The security agenda for TSA

On an unusually lovely and warm day in January, after the daily 0830 security meeting at Boston’s Logan International Airport, George Naccara outlines the other dimension to his aggressive agenda for TSA: multimodal security.

Remember, it’s not called the Aviation Security Administration, Naccara, who heads TSA in Boston, is fond of saying. And on this day he holds court with representatives of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA, which runs the commuter rail, subways and buses in Boston), law enforcement, the Coast Guard, Amtrak and others. He outlines his plan to bring the same risk-based programs—including the behavioral profiling he’s installing at Logan Airport—to subway stations, rail terminals, cruise ship and ferry docks, even special events like conventions.

Indeed, Boston’s TSA operation has been testing its concepts with other modes for some time. Now, Naccara and TSA want to add behavioral profiling to the mix, and extend the reach to subways and cruise ship terminals.

From the outset, success of this part of his agenda has been tempered. One of the biggest tests of portability for TSA’s tactics was tried in the Washington metro area and elsewhere around the country last December. TSA deployed personnel, including undercover air marshals, at train stations in seven regions. The teams were known, rather menacingly, as Viper (for Visible Intermodal Protection and Response). But the mass transit rollout was marred by mass confusion. Authorities in the D.C. area especially claimed they hadn’t been notified that the trial was under way, and after a news story and some PR hits, TSA scaled back the trial. (Ruminating on the botched program, Naccara wonders aloud whether things would have gone more smoothly if they had an 0830 meeting like Boston’s.)

But Naccara is undeterred. “TSA was never clearly given a mandate to focus only on aviation,” he says. “I want to bring a sense of urgency to other modes and explain to them what we do and how it can be adapted to work in their environments.”

While he has the authority, Naccara doesn’t want to “parachute in and mandate. I don’t have the manpower for that anyway.” Instead, he says, he wants to first offer the expertise TSA has garnered at airports and then figure out how all the modes can work together to benefit from it. “My approach was to define the ‘as is’ condition, the future state, or the ‘to be,’ and then do a gap analysis, identifying what we need to do to get us to that future state… and how we can work together to get there. It’s an interesting exercise, and one which should continue to bring us together in the real world.”

Naccara came away from his December meeting “optimistic” enough to schedule more. “I think the other modes of transportation will listen to us,” he says. “Our security techniques, these are good concepts that will resonate.”