The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I) and Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR), of which Representative Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25) is a member, released a report that demonstrated the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars inefficiently deploying screening equipment and technology to commercial airports.
"This report is evidence that TSA is a flawed agency and is wasting the taxpayers' money. TSA has repeatedly failed to effectively procure and deploy screening equipment that actually detects threats. Making matters worse is that as complaints about the invasiveness of TSA searches continue to increase, significant amounts of state-of-the-art technology is sitting, unused in warehouses in Texas; technology that could be utilized to streamline searches so that they are less obtrusive," said Rep. Buerkle.
"TSA needs to be reformed so that it can become more effective in providing security and less of a bureaucracy that is ripe with waste and abuse."
The report 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 is an essential review of 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.
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 yet another 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.