FISCAL FIASCO AT TSA Amidst evidence that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has pulled budgets out of thin air and wasted millions of dollars, prominent lawmakers on Capitol Hill are now beginning to scrutinize the billions of tax dollars that have been spent to make our nation's airports more secure.
Government Agency Allows Stealing from Americans
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
Hailed as one of the first significant reforms in the war on terrorism, the TSA was created in November 2001 with the primary mission of preventing another 9/11 by overhauling the security at more than 400 airports across the country. With such a massive undertaking, it's hard to expect that some money won't be misspent, but the emerging picture of mismanagement, corruption and waste has outperformed even our wildest imaginations.
Recent watchdog reports have revealed that not a single internal cost control measure was set up for the agency's $4.8 billion budget. Not surprisingly, half a billion dollars meant to reimburse airports for bomb detection equipment has disappeared. The agency has also surpassed a congressional hiring cap by 21,000 personnel and is shelling out six-figure salaries to many of the non-screener employees. From overstaffing low traffic airports to buying more than 1,000 baggage scanners at a million a pop, the TSA is a classic case of good intentions quickly yielding disastrous financial consequences.
One of the first contracts TSA bureaucrats signed with an outside firm is illustrative of the whole fiscal mess. NCS Pearson was awarded a $104 million deal to assist in recruiting security screeners for the agency. The only thing the contractor did well was rack up cost overruns that ballooned the contract to more than $700 million. Their spending spree included a five-week junket for 20 recruiters at a $150 a night luxury resort in Telluride, CO, where they interviewed candidates for jobs at Colorado and New Mexico airports. NCS Pearson was eventually replaced by the TSA, but the company has since reported more than $300 million in profits from the deal.
While NCS Pearson was taking the TSA to the cleaners, the companies providing interim airport security billed the federal government $305 million more than they had charged airline companies for the exact same work. Six of the 13 security companies charged the government more than twice what they had been making private companies fork out. Auditors cited TSA officials for failing to adequately protect American taxpayers from getting gouged.
Hopefully, the agency will learn a lesson from these expensive and costly mistakes. This year, it is expected to cost more than $3 billion to connect explosive detection scanners to luggage conveyor belts, leaving the TSA very little room for more cost overruns.
It was a no-brainer decision to upgrade the security provided at our nation's airports. But, the TSA's profligate spending is insulting to taxpayers and this string of cost overruns, fiscal irresponsibility and security profiteering cannot continue. As the next appropriations season gets underway, we urge lawmakers to hold the TSA accountable for how they are spending scarce federal homeland security dollars.
For more information, contact Keith Ashdown at (202)-546-8500 ext. 110
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
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