Oversight/T&I Committees Document Millions In Wasted Dollars, Ongoing Management Failures In Handling Airport Security Systems
A new report released recently by two House Committees offers a critical examination of TSA management and its procurement, deployment and storage of airport security screening technologies. Viewed in light of the recent bomb interdiction operation in Yemen, the report offers a critical look at TSA’s front line security operations and notes that over the past decade, the agency has struggled to cost-effectively utilize taxpayer funding to obtain and distribute effective security equipment at 463 airports where it provides screening.
The report released last week by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I) and Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) found that TSA is wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars by inefficiently deploying screening equipment and technology to commercial airports. When investigators assessed the situation at TSA’s Dallas, Texas, Transportation Logistics Center in February, they observed approximately 5,700 pieces of security equipment held at the site. They estimated that the non-utilized equipment had a purchase value of $184 million, in addition to the $3.5 million annual cost to lease and manage the warehouse. Investigators also noted that TSA’s preference was to have equipment shipped to the centralized warehouse rather than direct from manufacturer to deployment site, creating an additional inefficiency.
In addition to noting serious management and procurement challenges, the report also points out that TSA willfully delayed Congressional oversight of the agency’s logistics center twice in a failed attempt to hide the disposal of approximately 1,300 pieces of equipment. It also indicates that TSA management potentially violated U.S. law by knowingly providing inaccurate warehouse inventory reports to Congressional staff during an investigative visit.
The OGR/T&I report makes a series of recommendations to improve TSA’s security and logistics operations, including: halting equipment purchases in bulk unless there is a bona fide need; conduct an extensive procurement and deployment process review with cost-benefit analysis; establish a deployment plan prior to procurement of screening technology; implement all recommendations from the Government Accountability Office in an unclassified audit critical of the agency; and utilize direct shipping to deployment sites. It also makes recommendations to ensure compliance with Congressional oversight.
T&I Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL) said, “TSA continues to demonstrate its penchant for bungling aviation security and wasting taxpayers’ money. The CIA uncovered terrorists’ latest modified underwear bomb plot, but TSA has repeatedly failed to effectively procure and deploy screening equipment that actually detects threats, and incredible amounts of its state-of-the-art technology is gathering dust in Texas warehouses. Significant reform is necessary to transform this bloated and inefficient bureaucracy into the effective security agency it needs to be.”
“Money spent on equipment sitting in a warehouse in excess is money not spent on the front lines,” OGR Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said. “Systematic flaws in the procurement and deployment systems at TSA continue to plague the agency. These flaws are exacerbated by a management structure that seems content to throw millions of dollars at untested solutions that are bought in excess and poorly deployed an managed. This is not a security operation, but rather a recipe for waste and abuse.”