President Donald Trump on Tuesday nominated David Pekoske to head the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), choosing a former Coast Guard officer and industry executive to run the agency responsible for ensuring the nation’s transportation systems are secure.
Pekoske retired from the Coast Guard in 2010 after a 30 year career, ending his service with one-year stint as vice commandant preceded by a one-year assignment as commander of the Pacific Area. Since retiring from the Coast Guard, he has been a member of the adjunct faculty at American Univ. in Washington, D.C., and has worked in the defense industry.
Pekoske joined the former A-T Solutions in June 2010 as a group president and then became vice president for National Programs at PAE after it acquired A-T in 2015, according to his LinkedIn account.
The White House on Monday night announced the president’s the intent to nominate Pekoske, saying that, “Throughout his career, he worked closely with the men and women in Federal, State, and local law enforcement and public safety organizations to protect the American people.”
Pekoske also spent three years as chairman of InfraGard, a partnership between the FBI and members of the private sector that helps with information sharing between the public and private sectors around critical infrastructure protection. He left InfraGard last September.
If confirmed by the Senate, Pekoske would be the third Coast Guard flag officer to lead TSA. Adm. Peter Neffenger led the agency for the final two years of the Obama Administration and Adm. James Loy ran it from 2002 until 2003.
Rich Cooper, a principal with the government affairs firm Catalyst Partners, in a blog post on Tuesday pointed out that the Coast Guard and InfraGard both interact heavily with the private sector in a number of areas involving the nation’s critical infrastructure. These experiences will serve Pekoske well as the TSA chief, he said.
“The civilian world is far different than the give-and-receive-orders world that come from the traditional military environment,” Cooper said. “In a civilian world, negotiations, relationship building and even horse trading have to be a part of the mix, especially when people with whom you work do not have to stand and return the salute or follow the order given by a higher ranking military officer.”
TSA works with airlines, airports, transportation authorities, cruise lines, port officials, foreign governments and other stakeholders in helping to secure the nation’s transportation systems.
Pekoske is a graduate of the Coast Guard Academies and has master’s degrees from Columbia Univ. and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Public Administration and Business Administration respectively.