David Pekoske has been formally sworn in as administrator of the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), taking command of a sprawling agency with about 60,000 employees that conducts security operations at nearly 450 US airports.

Pekoske retired in 2010 from the US Coast Guard, in which he served as vice commandant. He fills a void left by Peter Neffenger, also a former Coast Guard vice commandant, who stepped down as TSA administrator when US President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20, 2017. Huban Gowadia had been acting TSA administrator since then.

“As the [Coast Guard] vice commandant, Pekoske was second in command, also serving as chief operating officer and component acquisition executive of the US Coast Guard,” the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement. “He is a recognized expert in crisis management and port and maritime security.”

Airlines and airports are encouraging Pekoske to continue the intelligence-driven, risk-based approach to airport security favored by Neffenger and his predecessor John Pistole. That approach has led to the introduction and expansion of the Pre-Check expedited screening program and the implementation of what are being called “automated” or “innovation” screening lanes at some major airports.

But Pekoske takes the helm of TSA at a time when the agency is heavily involved in verifying that airports around the world with flights to the US are deploying enhanced security measures mandated by DHS in June. TSA is also in the process of implementing a requirement that all personal electronic devices (PEDs) larger than a cellphone—not just laptops—be placed in separate bins for X-ray screening at US airports.

Pekoske becomes the seventh TSA administrator since the agency was established in the aftermath of 9/11.

Aaron Karp aaron.karp@penton.com