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DiFava, Widnall Begin Logan Security Work

By Sandra M. Chung


Acting Governor Jane Swift appointed Colonel John DiFava of the Massachusetts State Police to the interim position of public safety director of Logan International Airport on October 3. DiFava was recently announced as the new chief of MIT’s Campus Police.

Swift also recently chartered a Special Advisory Task Force to conduct a thorough investigation of the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport). Institute Professor Sheila E. Widnall, of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, was named to the Task Force Committee. Widnall also served as Secretary of the Air Force from 1993 to 1997.

“We want to take advantage of the situation to focus on the ways in which Massport needs to be improved,” Widnall said.

DiFava assigned to Logan security

DiFava recently resigned his job as Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police to begin the transition to his new position at MIT. He was scheduled to begin on October 15.

Instead, DiFava will oversee security at Logan Airport for 45 days, while the Task Force is expected to complete its investigation. DiFava is replacing Joseph Lawless, who is being reassigned to run security at the Port of Boston. DiFava will begin his new job at MIT after the interim period is over.

Massport administrators are currently facing intense criticism and scrutiny after several alleged lapses in security since the September 11 terrorist attack. Logan Airport, which is run by Massport, has one of the worst security records for U.S. airports. Massport controls the majority of the transportation and shipping industries in Massachusetts and New England.

Task force to advise Swift

The Special Advisory Task Force on Massport was created last week by an executive order from Swift. According to the official Task Force charter, “The government has the responsibility to realize that a more dangerous world requires a critical, comprehensive review of the culture and structure of Massport.”

The Task Force’s duty is to advise and make recommendations to the acting governor on such topics as the fundamental mission of Massport, the scope of its responsibilities, and its hiring and personnel policies. They also make recommendations its governing, finance, and management structures. The six-member committee must report to Swift by December 4.

Committee composed of experts

Widnall served as Air Force Secretary during the Clinton administration. She brings to the committee a background in aviation and federal government, with specific experience in operational issues.

The Task Force has already had two full Thursday meetings, and Widnall said the committee members are doing considerable amounts of work on their own.

In the process of fulfilling her role on the committee, Widnall expects to visit Washington D.C. and conduct her own research. She described the task force as “a very distinguished group of people.”

Marshall Carter is the chairman of the commission. Carter is the former head of the $700 billion State Street Bank and Trust Co. Other members include: Robert F. Johnson, co-founder of First Security Services Corporation; Wayne Budd, former US attorney for Boston; Patricia McGovern, former state senator and chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee; and John Haley, former general manager of the MBTA.