The purchases resembled that of an extreme home makeover television show – elaborate purchases of decorative items such as silk plants and art – totaling $500,000, improper use of federal purchase cards, and wasteful procurement and construction decisions, including a 4,200 square-foot fitness center. Unfortunately for taxpayers, these weren’t the spending habits of a game-show prize-winner or a home makeover show. Instead, these were just some of the apparently unauthorized purchases made by Transportation Security Administration managers at the Transportation Security Operations Center.
Enough is enough. Two U.S. senators, Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), have asked the head of the TSA to end the ‘wasteful spending’ at the Transportations Security Operations Center after a recent inspector general report identified breakdowns in management controls that led to financial waste and abuse.
"The findings in this report are appalling," said Senators Collins and Lieberman in a joint letter to TSA Assistant Secretary David Stone. "The disregard shown by the project manager to procurement policies; the failure by senior management at the time to provide appropriate oversight; the endless citations of wasteful spending – and even one of overpayment – are unacceptable. From the start, TSA failed to scope the construction project following basic acquisition guidelines. That lack of attention extended throughout the project such that TSA still cannot account properly for expended funds."
The senators acknowledged that TSA faced "tremendous strains" during the developmental stages of TSOC, including the mobilization of 60,000 field employees in nearly 500 locations nationwide and the lack of robust communications capabilities to direct field operations. However, these challenges do not excuse the findings of the report.
"Major decisions were made haphazardly, without weighing all of the appropriate factors, such as cost and requirements. The report cites that TSA’s own policies and guidelines were not followed or enforced," they said.
Stone has been requested to provide details of the specific measures TSA has established to preclude similar wasteful spending incidents in the future and information on any disciplinary action taken as a result of the incidents revealed by the DHS IG report.