The Secret Service will reassign four top-level officials following several dangerous security breaches at the elite agency, including a September incident in which a man scaled the fence and ran far into the White House through an unlocked front door, a Secret Service official said Wednesday.
The decision comes after a panel charged with reviewing the Secret Service said last month that the Secret Service is “an organization starved for leadership” that needs more agents, better training and discipline and a new leader from outside the agency.
“Based on the Independent Panel review, and my own assessments, I will be implementing leadership changes in the Secret Service management team,” Acting Director Joseph Clancy said in a statement. “Change is necessary to gain a fresh perspective on how we conduct business. I am certain any of our senior executives will be productive and valued assets either in other positions at the Secret Service or the department.”
Clancy informed the four assistant directors who oversee of protection, investigations, technology and public affairs that they they will be reassigned within the Secret Service or the Department of Homeland Security, according to the official who was knowledgeable of the situation but not authorized to speak as a matter of practice.
The four assistant directors who were impacted are: Dale Pupillo, who oversees protective operations; Paul Morrissey, who heads up investigations; Jane Murphy, who lead the governmental and public affairs section; and Mark Copanzzi, who organizes technology and support.
The news was first reported by the Washington Post.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson appointed the independent panel in October following several dangerous lapses, including the Sept. 19 incident. That led to the resignation of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson.
News reports also indicate that a man fired a semiautomatic rifle at the White House while Sasha Obama was home in November 2011, and that President Obama shared an elevator with a security contractor who was carrying a gun during a trip to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta earlier this year.
“We believe that at this time in the agency’s history, the need for service experience is outweighed by what the service needs today: dynamic leadership that can move the service forward into a new era and drive change in the organization,” the panel wrote.
A request for comment from Johnson’s office went unanswered late Wednesday. But in December Johnson said the Secret Service must ensure that all the recommendations are carefully considered. “The Secret Service itself must commit to change,” he said.
Much of the report, including details of assessments and recommendations, was classified and was not be released to the public. But the executive summary, which Johnson released, indicates that the panel found significant problems at the elite agency charged with protecting the president, his family and other dignitaries, as well as investigating financial crimes.
It recommends hiring an additional 200 agents in the uniformed division and 85 agents in the presidential protective division as quickly as possible. It recommends breaking with tradition and hiring someone from the outside to lead the agency. And it recommends replacing the seven-and-a-half-foot outer fence that surrounds the 18-acre compound, not just along Pennsylvania Avenue.
Obama does not have a timetable for replacing Pierson, White House Pres Secretary Josh Earnest said said in December. Clancy, formerly special agent in charge of the presidential protective division, was appointed acting agency director.
The panel was comprised of two officials who had worked for Obama – former Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli and Cabinet secretary Danielle Gray – and two who worked for former President George W. Bush – Mark Filip, a former deputy attorney general, and Joseph Hagin, a former deputy chief of staff for operations.
Top lawmakers on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee had asked for a independent review of the Secret Service that looked beyond the Sept. 19 security breach.