NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Transportation Security Administration Adopts "Spending Spree" Spirit

October 31, 2002

The new Transportation Security Administration has wasted no time getting into the spending habit -- and into hot water with Congress. Created by Congress last fall after the Sept. 11 attacks, it was charged with creating and running a system for airport security. But it already claims it needs more money to do its job.

Congress has come to a different conclusion -- that the agency is wasting money, in ways both large and small.

  • TSA recruiters selected an expensive and remote Colorado ski resort as a site to interview applicants for only 50 airport-screener jobs -- staying seven weeks and paying an extra $29,000 for local police security.
  • An agency administrator, now resigned, spent $400,000 to decorate his office with mahogany-stained doors and crown molding and install state-of-the-art audio equipment.
  • More important from a budget standpoint, a government audit shows that it is paying private security firms soaring rates for work that doesn't get finished and for employees who don't show up.

The agency had requested a staff of 67,000 and a 2003 budget of $5.3 billion. But Congress capped the staff at 45,000.

Source: Stephen Power, "Security Agency's Spending Sets Off Alarms," Wall Street Journal, October 30, 2002.

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