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Building resilience into our systems: Lessons from managing the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and leading the TSA | Resilient World Podcast

Managing the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as Deputy Incident Manager and implementing 21st century aviation security solutions as TSA Administrator, Peter Neffenger has been on the front lines of some of our nation’s most complex challenges.

Neffenger, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Global Resilience Institute, shared some of these experiences and the lessons learned, during the latest episode of the Atlantic Council’s Resilient World podcast, stressing the importance of building resilience into systems.

“Resilience as a system is a great way of thinking and there’s probably no better illustration of what happens when you don’t think about resilience as a system when you look at some of the disasters we have dealt with,” Neffenger said.

During the podcast, Neffenger detailed the complexity of the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and shared some of the behind-the-scenes moments, including briefing President Obama.

“That oil spill was actually multiple events, people think of it as an oil spill but it was really an event of magnitude,” said Neffenger. “The oil spill itself, then the technical challenge of trying to plug that well which was separate from the spill. You had the cleanup of the oil at the surface of the water right above the well location which was about 75 miles off the coast of Louisiana and then you had the potential for oil to come ashore. So you had all these different events going on at once.”

Neffenger also assessed whether our nation is retaining institutional memory and passing on the lessons learned from one crisis to the next effectively, from administration to administration.

To listen to the full podcast, use the player above or CLICK HERE

Admiral Peter Neffenger (USCG Ret.) served as the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from July 2015 to January 20, 2017. Prior to his leadership role at the TSA, Neffenger was the 29th Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, earning the rank of Vice Admiral. Previous positions include Coast Guard Deputy Commandant for Operations, where he directed the organization’s global strategy and policy, and Deputy National Incident Commander for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, where he served a crisis management expert.

Hosted by Christine Wormuth, director of the Adrienne Arsht Center for Resilience, Season One of Resilient World features insight and analysis about how to meet these challenges from thought leaders in fields as diverse as national security, science fiction, and public health. Every second Wednesday, Resilient World highlights innovative ideas about how to prepare for, manage through and bounce back from adversity – in other words, how to be resilient. To learn more visit: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/resilient-world