As with many federal agencies, Winkowski says, the biggest challenge at U.S. Customs and Border Protection is making "critical decisions" for the agency's budget. "It all kind of came to a reality here with the sequester," he says. As acting commissioner, Winkowski says, he will make sure the agency continues to promote border security to "prevent any type of terrorist attack on the homeland," adding that in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings the agency had strengthened its outgoing operations. He also expects U.S. Customs and Border Protection to be in the forefront of the debate surrounding immigration-reform legislation. Winkowski, 58, was born and raised in Boston, and he received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Northeastern University. He began working for the U.S. Customs Service while he was still in college, and he was given an assignment in Los Angeles after graduating. "I knew early on that I wanted to be involved in law enforcement," he says. He has been at CBP, or the Customs Service, which was folded into CBP, for more than 38 years. During his career at the agency, he took on multiple roles, including that of acting chief operations officer, which required him to oversee day-to-day operations, and field operations assistant commissioner.
2013 Security / Homeland Security Department
Thomas Winkowski, Commissioner (acting), U.S. Customs and Border Protection
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