Federal audit questions TSA spending

| 7/5/2005

More than $526 for one phone call? Maybe they need a new long-distance plan.

The Transportation Security Administration is once again putting tax dollars to questionable use, according to a new federal audit.

The audit, which was conducted by the Defense Contract Audit Agency, questioned more than $300 million spent by the agency to hire airport screeners following the agency’s creation in 2001.

According to the audit agency, TSA officials spent $526.95 for one phone call from the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Chicago to Iowa City.

But that was the least of it.

According to The Associated Press, the audit agency also found that the TSA spend $5.4 million for nine months’ salary for the chief executive of an event logistics firm that got a contract from the TSA before it was incorporated and went out of business after the contract ended.

The audit faulted NCS Pearson Inc., the prime contractor hired by TSA to test, interview, fingerprint, and certify the airport screeners. Pearson’s decision to move the hiring process from its own private assessment centers to 150 hotels across the country added more than $343 million to the total cost of the contract.

Other expenses found in the audit include:

  • $1,180 for 20 gallons of Starbucks Coffee;
  • $1,540 to rent 14 extension cords at $5 per day for three weeks;
  • $377,273 in unsubstantiated long-distance phone calls; and
  • $20-an-hour temporary workers who were billed to the government at $48 per hour.