U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Transportation Security Subcommittee Chairman Richard Hudson (R-SC) have introduced legislation to reform the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) acquisition process.
H.R. 2719, the Transportation Security Acquisition Reform Act, requires TSA to develop a multi-year strategic plan for security-related technology acquisitions, conduct a cost-benefit analysis for purchases and create an inventory tracking system. TSA has repeatedly purchased and deployed equipment that was not properly tested or failed to meet performance objectives. By streamlining its process for obtaining new equipment, TSA will improve security, better engage the private sector in research and development and make better use of its budget.
Specifically, H.R. 2719 requires TSA to:
- Develop a multi-year technology acquisition plan within 180 days of enactment of the bill and to update the plan every two years.
- Conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis to determine if purchases are justified.
- Establish and track baseline program requirements, such as estimated costs, schedules, milestones, identified risks and plans to mitigate those risks.
- Use existing equipment before purchasing additional equipment and create a process for tracking inventory.
- Publish goals for contracting with small and disadvantaged businesses and provide an annual progress report to Congress
According to McCaul, “For too long, TSA has struggled with efficiently testing, investing in and deploying new technology. According to the DHS Inspector General, mismanagement has left $185 million in taxpayer-funded equipment, some unusable or outdated, locked up in warehouses. As part of the Committee’s fiscal oversight of the Department, the Transportation Security Acquisition Reform Act will help fix TSA’s broken acquisition process and save taxpayer dollars. The bill adds transparency by requiring TSA to develop a long-term acquisition plan, ensures scarce funds are not wasted on technology that ultimately fails to meet performance objectives, and encourages better use of private sector innovations. H.R. 2719 will help TSA successfully carry out its critical mission of protecting our nation’s transportation systems and will ensure its budget is properly used in the process.”