Audit finds TSA mismanaged $1 billion in funds

| 4/4/2006

The Transportation Security Administration is under fire once again – this time for mismanaging a $1 billion technology program.

The New York Times reported that an audit conducted by the Office of Inspector General of the Homeland Security Department found TSA officials mismanaged a contract with Unisys Corp. to provide computers, pagers, cell phones, radios, telephones and a high-speed network for the agency’s 65,000 employees at its headquarters, 21 field offices and 429 airports.

The audit said the $1 billion was supposed to fund the project through 2009, but most of it was used up by this year, before many of the projects were finished, according to The Times.

The Times reported that security directors at some airports were still relying on dial-up internet connections for e-mail and information on training, schedules and attendance for airport screeners. All of the airports have since been upgraded to high-speed access.

Some systems, however, are still not fully delivered, including voice mail, a staff management system, a secure wireless network and a network of training computers, The Times reported.

Some of the personnel quoted in the report said the equipment they were given was old and cheap, according to The Times.

“We were given a hodgepodge of $20 Radio Shack phones with which to conduct business,” one security director said. “Some are so old they actually have a mechanical bell that rings when someone is calling.”

In its defense, Unisys issued a statement saying it provided “state-of-the-art radio and communications technology” and that “the shortfalls were the result of inadequate funding rather than the fault of Unisys.”