TSA Administrator David Pekoske visits Miami International Airport on Feb. 25, 2019. (TSA photo)

Pekoske Moved from TSA to Take Acting No. 2 Spot at DHS

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan today appointed Transportation Security Administration David Pekoske acting deputy DHS secretary.

The role has been vacant since Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke left a year ago. Undersecretary for Management Claire Grady had been serving in the active role but was pushed out this week.

In shifting Pekoske over to HQ, TSA’s Acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell will oversee the agency.

“Administrator Pekoske brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the Department, previously serving as a senior leader within two DHS agencies: the United States Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration,” McAleenan said in a statement. “Additionally, he has tackled impressive challenges over the course of his career, ranging from acquisition and procurement reform as the Coast Guard’s Vice Commandant to securing America’s traveling public as TSA’s administrator. I look forward to working with him to meet the homeland security challenges facing our nation.”

Pekoske tweeted, “I’m honored for the opportunity to join Acting Secretary McAleenan’s team and perform duties as @DHSgov deputy secretary. I look forward to assisting him in this transition period. Thank you to the talented and dedicated men and women of DHS for serving our country so well!”

Testifying Tuesday before the House Homeland Security Committee, Pekoske said TSA made “significant progress” in the past year to deliver “better security faster,” including implementing a computed tomography carry-on baggage screening program, expanding the training of explosives detection canine teams, and more.

“TSA leveraged the flexibility provided by our appropriations to use prior year funding to mitigate the adverse financial impact on our workforce,” Pekoske said. “Moving forward, I continue to look at various options under the broad scope of TSA’s authorities to demonstrate our commitment to the workforce, reward high performers, reduce turnover, and improve employee morale.”

Pekoske was confirmed to the TSA post in August 2017. He served as USCG vice commandant under Commandant Thad Allen from August 2009 to May 2010, capping off 33 years of service.

Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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