TSA Uses Expensive Criminal Investigators To Fail To Investigate Security Vulnerabilities, Says Report

TSANot that the TSA needs more
trouble, but then again, the rest of us don’t need more TSA. And we
really don’t need overpaid, poorly deployed Transportation Security
Administration criminal investigators sent hither and yon on
expensive, poorly conceived tasks that pretty much anybody could
have done at lower cost. And we don’t expect the agency tasked with
providing transportation security to lack any sort of game plan for
determining if it’s doing its job. But that’s exactly what’s been
happening, according to a report from the DHS Office of Inspector

The report
(PDF) found that the Office of Inspections (OOI), which is largely
staffed by well-paid criminal investigators and tasked with
detecting vulnerabilities in TSA security systems and conduct
internal inspections, doesn’t operate efficiently. Specifically,
the OOI uses criminal investigators receiving “premium pay” to
perform duties that could have been performed by other employees at
lower cost. More troubling for an office detailed to determine if
the Transportation Security Administration is actually providing
some sort of transportation security, “Quality controls were not
sufficient to ensure that inspections, internal reviews, and covert
testing complied with accepted standards.”

OOI did not effectively plan its work, did not adequately
measure its performance, and did not have quality control
procedures to ensure that all divisions complied with standards
that the office had committed to using in its work. OOI also could
not require other TSA offices to respond to its recommendations. In
addition, TSA did not hold OOI accountable for developing and
implementing effective quality controls over its resources,
staffing, and operations. As a result of the issues that we
identified with OOI’s quality controls over its work products, TSA
management may not be able to rely on this work, and the office may
not have accomplished its mission to identify and address
transportation security vulnerabilities.

TSA OOI salariesTop-heavy staffing in terms of criminal
investigators is projected to cost an unnecessary $17.5 million in
Law Enforcement Availability Pay (which is 25 percent higher than
base pay) over five years, the report adds. That doesn’t take into
account additional costs from the ability to retire with full
benefits at age 50 after 20 years of service, and faster accruing
pensions. In fact, criminal investigator salaries account for 68
percent of OOI salary costs, even though the law enforcement-rated
staffers are often used for work that anybody could do.

And then there’s that additional problem of not actually
accomplishing its mission, despite those costs. The report warns
that, without quality control, planning or adequate standards,
“management may not be able to rely on OOI’s work.” And since that
work consists of trying to ensure that the TSA is actually
providing security, the rest of us can’t really rely on the TSA as
a whole.

Not that we ever thought we could.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/07/tsa-uses-expensive-criminal-investigator

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