TSA waste and corruption: the greatest hits

Some highlights from the House Oversight Committee's report on the TSA's finance, courtesy of TechDirt:

* As of February 15, 2012, the total value of TSA’s equipment in storage was, according to TSA officials, estimated at $184 million. However, when questioned by Committee staff, TSA’s warehouse staff and procurement officials were unable to provide the total value of equipment in storage.
* 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.
* TSA knowingly purchased more Explosive Trace Detectors (ETDs) than were necessary in order to receive a bulk discount under an incorrect and baseless assumption that demand would increase. TSA management stated: “[w]e purchased more than we needed in order to get a discount...

* 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..
* 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..
* TSA potentially violated 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1001, by knowingly providing an inaccurate warehouse inventory report to Congressional staff that accounted for the disposal of equipment that was still in storage at the TLC during a site visit by Congressional staff..
* TSA provided Congressional staff with a list of disposed equipment that falsely identified disposal dates and directly contradicted the inventory of equipment in the Quarterly Warehouse Inventory Report provided to Committee staff on February 13, 2012.

Congress: The TSA Is Wasting Hundreds Of Millions In Taxpayer Dollars


  1. In a way, maybe this is good news, though. The TSA doesn’t give two shits about the average citizen, but now they’re obstructing and generally pissing off Congress. I hope Congress musters the balls to shut them down.

    1.  Ditto here.  I occasionally fly in Canada for work.  I have to say that, save one particular agent in Montreal, the Commisionaires who generally work security in Canadian airports are professional, reasonable, and friendly.

  2. One can only hope that this entire episode is FINALLY enough for a brave congresscritter to risk being called soft on terrorism and suggest maybe the TSA was a stupid idea and needs to be scrapped.

      1. Maybe hiring people on the tops of pizza boxes was a bad idea. Many of them have promising futures as drug smugglers, thieves, child molesters, con artists, and so much worse.

  3. I have seen commenters in the past dissatisfied with the amount of TSA-fail posts here on BB – but I’m chiming in to say that I am not one of them. I say keep them coming! 

    I was fondled and humiliated in no less than 5 airports over the last 2 weeks.

    My blood boiled as I watched those blue-shirted bafoons repeatedly and snidely cajole, harrang, jibe, and mock each and every weary traveller. It puts everyone in the airport into a foul mood and turns what USED to be a pleasing experience into a dreaded torture session.

    For all the things that make the US a nice place to visit, this is blight among them.

    1. ME TOO!  Keep these posts coming.  WE need to change the mindset of the average rank n file American.  They need to wake up and realize that the TSA is a boondoggle and a money grabbing scheme of the security industry.  

      It’s Bullshit and doesn’t provide real security.  

      I posted this above but I will do it again: 

      -28,000 Passenger/Commercial Flights daily in the USA-About 150 passengers average per flight
      -4,200,000 People flying every day. 
      -All of them are subjected to the TSA BS Security Theater. -All of them are INNOCENT (I don’t recall the TSA every stopping/deterring a terrorist plot in the US within an Airport – EVER). 
      The TSA was formed in 2002.  So my rough estimate is that 15,330,000,000 (that’s 15.3 BILLION)  innocent travelers were subjected to going through Bullshit TSA Security Theater lines.  About 3% of them, 459,900,000 almost a half BILLION INNOCENT people, were needlessly groped, detained, pornoscanned and/or otherwise had their 4th/5th amendment rights violated in some fashion. 
      How many tens/hundreds of billions of Tax dollars wasted? How much time wasted waiting in airports? 

  4. no fan of TSA, but couldn’t much of this warehouse stuff be “redundancy” – spares & backups – comparison of kit and auditing at a warehouse of a similar org (coastguard?)  would give relevant context.

    1.  Two points:

      1.  I once had the perverted pleasure of enjoying an evening of c-span watching the DoD do a rather lengthy audit of their supply chain and logistics before the armed services committee.  It was truly fascinating.  Oddly enough the DoD lives or dies ( quite literally ) on their ability to account for the materials they have and make sure they end up where they need to be.  Wars are fought and won before shots are ever fired.  What was interesting was startling degree of detail they went into.  And the efforts ( quite monumental ) they went through to see what happened to resources that were not in use.  Heck it happens.  And it turns out that the DoD works in tandem with a federal wide clearing house of surplus equipment.  Basically they make their surplus available as a searchable database to other federal and state entities based on a priority list.  If something sits in there too long it ends up being auctioned off.   That the TSA is failing to account for as much of their inventory as they have.. and that their equipment has been languishing as long as it has in warehouses tells me that they have a fundamental misunderstanding of the inherit value in maintaining a top notch supply chain.  As they are an arm of the DHS I find this to be evidence of gross negligence on a part of the TSA and their leadership.  My guess is that congress likely sees the same thing I do here.   This is a huge issue.

      2.  The TSA seems to do a good enough job of selling the things they confiscate at a nice mark down.  Thus drawing some added income they so desperately need to support their 40 billion dollar budget.  No seriously.  They can’t manage to inventory their own stuff properly, but they are able to throw some spare cycles into retail sales of the confiscated property of American citizens.  Many of which were not illegal and quite honestly never a threat to anyone.  In short the TSA is as an organisation engaged in mass theft and fencing operations but cannot seem to keep their own books in order.

      That’s pretty nuts by my accounting.

      1. Well mismanagement of DoD money isn’t new.  Didn’t the Pentagon lose a few billion dollars a while back and had no idea where it went? 

  5. Considering how much time and taxpayer money has been blown on the baseball steroids controversy, I hope to see a very thorough investigation of the TSA, with merciless punishments for those responsible for these debacles. 

    But that would require congresspeople to actually DO THEIR DAMN JOBS for a change, rather than the much more politically and economically profitable grandstanding that we’ve all gotten used to.

  6. The warehouse in Dallas sold a lot of stuff recentlyish (January/Febuary) on renebates.com, an auction site mostly for governmental entities.    It’s a horrible site, either every agency/company on there takes horrible pictures, or the auction site’s staff really suck at their job, and often the descriptions are just crap.  We bid on a nice two ton DiAcro punch that was labeled as “Grey Machine” :) 

    Anyway, I wish I’d saved the pics from the TSA warehouse auction.  The stuff looked new.  Dunno if it was, but it’s didn’t look banged up.  I don’t remember seeing a porno scanner, but there were some of the explosives sniffers as well as the walk through metal detectors and the baggage x-ray machines and lots of rollers/conveyor belts.  

    1. Good to know that you can buy explosives sniffers and X-ray machines at auction. It suggests that a well-funded terrorist could buy a few commonly-used models and run some tests of their own. Being able to see exactly what will and won’t pass a scanner could be pretty useful.

      Even if the models being sold off are older versions, you can bet that they’re still in use at some airports in the US or elsewhere.

      1. You mean the 100 or so al queda members left in caves in Afghanistan?   They’re just gonna fly over here – pick up some million dollar used gear – take it back to their secret laboratory in the mountainside lair and devise a plan to bypass our 21st century security.  

        1. More likely they’ll just submit a requisition to some government office, who will accidentally give them the gear and then lose the paperwork.

          1. I think your scenario is far more likely.  Then we’ll find out years later he was a CIA operative…wait a minute.

      2. There wouldn’t be any growth in the security industry if we could keep using the same equipment for decades. Nothing is more important than growth, and the terrorists are helping our economy grow.

  7. How long before we discover this “mismanagement” of warehouse stock is just the tip of a money laundering iceburg?

  8. while redundancy would account for some of this, the simple fact that they are running delay actions to give them time to hide stuff from inspectors sounds just a wee bit shady to me. They are either corrupt or incompetent or both and know it. However, since their mandate is unassailable, that lends them a great deal of protection on their wrongdoings. Nope, we need someone in congress to grow a pair and challenge the notion that the TSA aren’t a massive money hole that does no real good.

    1. In the USA there are roughly 28,000 Commercial Flights every day (another 40-50,000 flights happen daily too but they don’t have passengers subject to the TSA as far as I know).
       We’ll say the average plane has around 150 passengers. 
      That’s about 4 Million passengers flying around the US every day. The TSA says they screen about 3% of all passengers (I find that to be bullshit because they make us ALL take off our shoes, belts, take out laptops etc and put that shit through an X-Ray machine and we all walk through at least a metal detector- perhaps only 3% get patted down or the pornoscanner). So everyday the TSA probably pats down or pornoscans about 120,000 INNOCENT Americans.   This has been going on 3656/24/7 for how many years now?   We’re talking about probably 99.9999% of all passengers going through the TSA are completely INNOCENT travelers who only wish to get to their destination.   The threat of terrorism is OVERBLOWN by many orders of magnitude.  Terrorists could deliberately crash one passenger plane every day this year and only then they would just exceed automobile deaths in America.  We Americans are still more likely to die of Heart Disease, Obesity/Diabetes, Cancer or some other health related issue. 
      We’re talking about needlessly groping or scanning about 4.5 Million People every year.  Seriously for no good reason at all.  We’re making many millions more take off their shoes, open their bags and other wasteful routines for exactly what in return?  A false sense of safety? 

      How many terrorist plots has the TSA uncovered? 
      How many have they stopped/prevented/deterred? Let’s turn security over to the airlines.  Make them come up with efficient, effective and real security solutions for passengers.   Of course the airlines are already subsidized so it may be a boondoggle there too but I think if there were competition between airlines based not just on price to travel but convenience of travel…I’d be willing to bet a big chunk of change that we get better, safer, faster air travel. 

  9. If you look at the history of TSA’s responses to Congress, you will note a sordid history of failures to respond, refusals to respond and delays in responding to pretty nearly every request made by Congress since TSA was decanted.

    I think it would make an interesting project for someone with time and resources to show just how often TSA has thumbed its nose at Congress and by definition, the citizenry of this country.  They wish to be responsible only to themselves and even the president’s requests get treated as “sugggestions” at best.

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