Thursday, May 10, 2012

Congress: The TSA Is Wasting Hundreds Of Millions In Taxpayer Dollars


The House Oversight Committee has come out with a report slamming the TSA for tremendous amounts of waste, specifically in the "deployment and storage" of its scanning equipment. Basically, it sounds like the TSA likes to go on giant spending sprees, buying up security equipment and then never, ever using it. A few data points
As of February 15, 2012, the total value of TSA’s equipment in storage was, according to TSA officials, estimated at $184 million. However, when questioned by Committee staff, TSA’s warehouse staff and procurement officials were unable to provide the total value of equipment in storage.
Committee staff discovered that 85% of the approximately 5,700 major transportation security equipment currently warehoused at the TLC had been stored for longer than six months; 35% of the equipment had been stored for more than one year. One piece of equipment had been in storage more than six years – 60% of its useful life.
As of February 2012, Committee staff discovered that TSA had 472 Advanced Technology 2 (AT2) carry-on baggage screening machines at the TLC and that more than 99% have remained in storage for more than nine months; 34% of AT2s have been stored for longer than one year.
TSA knowingly purchased more Explosive Trace Detectors (ETDs) than were necessary in order to receive a bulk discount under an incorrect and baseless assumption that demand would increase. TSA management stated: “[w]e purchased more than we needed in order to get a discount.”
Oh yeah, and it appears that the TSA isn't very good at tracking this stuff. When asked about the total cost of managing this equipment, the TSA was unable to provide an answer. And then it appeared to willfully mislead Congress about this:
TSA intentionally delayed Congressional oversight of the Transportation Logistics Center and provided inaccurate, incomplete, and potentially misleading information to Congress in order to conceal the agency’s continued mismanagement of warehouse operations.
TSA willfully delayed Congressional oversight of the agency’s Transportation Logistics Center twice in a failed attempt to hide the disposal of approximately 1,300 pieces of screening equipment from its warehouses in Dallas, Texas, prior to the arrival of Congressional staff.
TSA potentially violated 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1001, by knowingly providing an inaccurate warehouse inventory report to Congressional staff that accounted for the disposal of equipment that was still in storage at the TLC during a site visit by Congressional staff.
TSA provided Congressional staff with a list of disposed equipment that falsely identified disposal dates and directly contradicted the inventory of equipment in the Quarterly Warehouse Inventory Report provided to Committee staff on February 13, 2012.
One of the theories that was floated a few years ago when there was that big rush to rollout the nudie scanners, was that much of it was being driven by fear mongering from former government officials, like Michael Chertoff, who had economic relationships with the makers of the equipment. This report doesn't confirm any of that, but it sure seems to fit that narrative pretty perfectly. Fear monger away, have the TSA buy a ton of questionable equipment it doesn't actually need, and then have much of that equipment just sit in a warehouse. All on the taxpayers' dime. 


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