Government Waste

TSA Slapped for "Serious Inefficiencies" in House Report


Oh, Hell. I'll bet my car keys are in there, too.

If the Transportation Security Administration is going to destroy expensive medical equipment and so infuriate airline passengers with intrusive faux security that they strip naked in protest, I think we have the right to demand that the agency do so efficiently. Gross incompetency and civil liberties violations really can be done on the cheap, you know. So, it's disappointing to peruse a report by Republican staffers from two key House committees detailing wasteful spending, unused and warehouse equipment, and amateurish efforts to dodge accountability by the TSA in the course of its efforts to pretend to protect us from bad guys.

Released Wednesday, Airport Insecurity: TSA's Failure to Cost-Effectively Procure, Deploy and Warehouse its Screening Technologies (PDF), was compiled by the majority staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Among its findings is that the agency charged with making air travel (and so much more) such a hassle "is wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars by inefficiently deploying screening equipment and technology to commercial airports," and that, when the staffers came a-calling to see just what all this nifty and very expensive equipment was doing gathering dust, "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."

Some highlights:

  • 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.
  • As of February 15, 2012, TSA possessed 1,462 [Explosive Trace Detectors] in storage in its TLC warehouses. At approximately $30,000 per ETD, TSA's purchases equate to nearly $44 million dollars in excessive quantities of ETD machines.
  • 492 of the ETDs had been in storage for longer than one year.

The report charges that TSA administrators tried to put off investigators when they inquired into the why and wherefore of all of that stockpiled equipment, but that they weren't even efficient about the coverup. "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." In particular, "[d]uring interviews with TSA warehouse staff, Committee staff learned that TSA had disposed of almost 1,300 pieces of screening equipment … the week of the warehouse visit and that the warehouse staff was actively removing the remainder of the equipment scheduled for disposition from the TLC the morning of the Congressional review." Investigators were actually told the warehouse crew had been working so hard to empty the place in advance of the visit that they'd been given the day off.

At only 22 pages, the report is worth a look, just for a glimpse at how your tax dollars are managed.

More of Reason's coverage of the TSA here.

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  1. I don’t need to tell you that TSA screeners are expensive. But with the Mobile Oppression Palace, a few dignitaries can oppress your entire planet for pennies a day.

    1. Is it possible that all this slavery and oppression is schmutzing up our freedom lesson?

  2. Seven posts in an hour and ten minutes? You guys need to hold a workshop about the “queue post” function.

    1. It’s Friday. The Four Loko is cold and flowing in the office, which just eases the production process …

      1. You know what else Four Loko eases?

    2. Digital Diahrrea

      1. Publication Puke

  3. Serious Inefficiency? That just means their funding is insufficient.

  4. Gross incompetency and civil liberties violations really can be done on the cheap, you know.

    I like your style, kid.

    1. If you’re really good (at taking bribes from drug cartels), you can actually realize a profit while violating liberties.

  5. Excess equipment warehoused is not a bug in the eyes of crony capitalists and the TSA’0s vendor list is rife with crony capitalists, most noticeably Michael Chertoff.

  6. None of that shit they bought even works. Just writing checks to contractors.

  7. The TSA is just being proactive. They’re stockpiling equipment for the TSA’s eventual expansion to every Train Station, Bus Stop, and Car/Truck Rental location.

    1. A less-paranoid explanation: TSA underestimated the amount of equipment irate passengers would destroy.

      1. So clearly I need to pick up the slack when I fly in a couple of months. Will do, boss!

  8. So that that mean we should check out GAO auctions in Dallas for a sweet deal on Rapeyscanners and other TSA goodies? Because it sure sounds like it to me.

  9. Obviously we need another government agency to oversee and manage TSA spending, warehousing, and accountability. Actually, we need six.

    1. P.S. Is it illegal these days to title a report or book without using a colon?

      1. In a word: yes.

        1. I see what you did there: a colonoscopy, as it were.

          1. colonoscopy?

            paging groovus: what’s the suffix for an operation that adds something?


            1. “Quit using the punctuation!”

              1. “Quit using the #@%*ing punctuation!”

                1. QUIT USING PUNCTUATION

      2. semi-related: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II: The Rise of the Witch-king…According to the Guinness Book of World Records Gamer’s Edition, this game has the longest video game expansion pack title ever.


  10. It’s pretty evident that the TSA is a broken organization, but I do wonder to what extent this is the House kicking it upstairs to Barry: “Hey, we ponied up for Chertoff’s nudie scanners, let’s see some TSA T&A!” When they take off the mask at least some of these glorified lawyers *have* to know it’s theater.

  11. S.O.P. for a government agency. Spend the money to justify your budget. Implementation of all the shit you bought? When we get around to it.

    1. Precisely. Will Congress take note and reduce their budget accordingly? Not likely?

      So the real fuckups here are, as usual, our elected representatives.

      1. So the real fuckups here are, as usual, our elected representatives.

        No. It’s us for electing them.

        1. Who is this “us”, kemosabe?

          1. Whenever Paul says “Us” in the context of the body politic, he means “us” in the royal way.

          2. Another way of saying it:

            Paul uses “us” the way activists use “we” when demanding more taxation and regulation.

        2. Yes, WE have elected the scum that perpetuate our broken bureaucratic nightmare of a government. But it is my assertion that when we are presented with a candidate for office, local or national that seems to be legitimately concerned about the sorry state of affairs, they are out spent, out flanked and marginalized by those that wish to maintain the status quo. cont.

          1. If one of substance and charactor gets elected to public office, he is quickly turned into a Stepford Politician, selling his soul for power, privilege and cash like the rest of the whores and apparatchiks.

  12. Will Gay Marriage make up for the TSA? Won’t getting feeled up by men (and women) defeated those SoCons?

  13. Apologies to David Barry, Who among us can say they never lost track of 472 ATC2 machines?

  14. “I think we have the right to demand that the agency do so efficiently.”

    Where did you get that silly idea?

    It is absurd to demand something so manifestly impossible. That’s for Marxists and the OWS crowd.

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