On the day before Thanksgiving, in the midst of one of the busiest travel days of the year, TSA Administrator Pete Neffenger announced to TSA employees that Roderick Allison had been named the Acting Deputy Administrator. Allison will temporarily fill the position left vacant by the departure of Mark Hatfield, a 13-year TSA employee, who will become head of security at Miami International Airport.
As best I can tell, the announcement has not received any press coverage, although Allison is now listed on TSA’s website as the Acting Deputy Administrator. In making the announcement, Neffenger expressed “great confidence in Rod’s skills and abilities” and said he would remain in this role until a permanent Deputy is in place.
Roderick Allison’s professional career began in 1985 with 13 years in the U.S. Army. His supervisory and operational experience included assignments at the National Security Agency, Ft. Meade, Maryland; 7th Special Forces Group, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina; and an assignment within the U.S. Army Military District of Washington.
He began his career with the Federal Air Marshal Service in 1998, when he joined the program while it was part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Civil Aviation Security Program. Subsequently, he served as a criminal investigator with the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Postal Service.
Following the events of September 11, 2001, Allison rejoined the Federal Air Marshal Service in 2002 as an assistant to the special agent in charge in the Washington field office. Since that time, he has served in several leadership capacities within TSA and the Office of Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service, including: Executive Advisor to the Director, Supervisory Air Marshal in Charge, Field Operations Division, and Supervisory Air Marshal in Charge of the Washington field office.
He was named Assistant Administrator for the Office of Inspection in August 2012. Before being named Acting Deputy Administration, Rod Allison served as the TSA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Law Enforcement and Director of the Federal Air Marshal Service.
Rod Allison is well-known to TSA stakeholders and to congressional committees and seems to be liked by all. He has testified on numerous occasions, most recently addressing congressional concerns about Federal Air Marshal personnel issues. He has an open communications style that should serve him well in dealing with the issues that will land on his desk. He is not someone who tolerates poor performance and will be instrumental in seeing that the recent IG recommendations on security failures are fully and properly addressed.
While Administrator Neffenger searches for a full time Deputy, Rod Allison’s experience will allow him to fill the Deputy’s position with a very small learning curve. TSA employees and the travelers who depend upon the agency to make travel safe this holiday season ought to be happy with his selection.