TSA Paid $1.4 Million for App that Directs Travelers Left or Right in Lines

Finally, a TSA story about something other crotch-grabbing! #winning


Screencap, Geek.com

Anyone who has flown in the United States in the past 15 years or so knows the drill: A friendly agent or sub-contractor of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the demonstrably useless and expensive security-theater troupe created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, directs you to go right or left at some point.

Recently, TSA started using an iPad or other high-tech gadgets in the process, the better to confound countless numbers of underwear bombers.

Did you know that such procedures are scientifically randomized via a particular "randomizer" program?

As Geek.com reports, the app that helps TSA agents direct us this way of that didn't come cheap. The program itself cost at least $336,413.59 and the overall total for the project was around $1.4 million.

We know this thanks to developer Kevin Burke, who submitted a Freedom of Information Act request asking for details about the app. And if you think paying over $336,000 for an app like this is ridiculous, well, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

The contract for the TSA Randomizer app was won by IBM. The total paid for the project is actually $1.4 million, but the cost is not broken down in the documents Burke received in response to his request. It could be IBM supplied all the iPads and training as well as the app itself. Even so, the cost of the project is crazy. It's an app that is just randomly selects left or right.

More here.

Burke pulled the info via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and writes

We don't know everything the TSA got for that $1.4 million. They might have just gotten the iPad app; they might have gotten iPads, or work on multiple different apps, including the TSA Randomizer. We only know it's associated with the TSA Randomizer based on the FOIA request that returned this document.

I should mention that the Obama Administration, the "most transparent", has set numerous records for delays in turning over files and refusing to fulfill requests for access, and none of the candidates seem likely to reverse that trend. If you think this is important, consider writing your elected officials and asking them to prioritize this, or making decisions in November based on this.

Hat tip: The crazy, mixed-up, rage-inducing, laff-producing Twitter feed of Mike Hewlett.

Back in 2010, Reason TV presented "44 Ways To Say TSA." Add your own in the comments.