US Transportation Security Administration buys useless tech

US Accounting watchdogs have bitten the rump of the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for wasting millions on daft technology, which does not work.

In the wake of September 11, the Authority was given a blank cheque to use technology to protect the great unwashed from terror attacks.  It did so buy forcing passengers to go through long queues and take their shoes off on the sound basis that all terrorists wore shoes, therefore if people took off their footware they could not be terrorists.

However, they also spent shedloads on all sorts of expensive technology gear which they thought would mean that they would no longer have to use common sense when it came to checking to see who was a terrorist.

The Transportation Security Administration spent about $30 million on devices that puffed air on travellers to “sniff” them out for explosives. The gear is sitting in warehouses because it was impractical.

Since September 11, the TSA has spent roughly $14 billion in more than 20,900 transactions with dozens of contractors. While some of the purchases were fairly sensible X-ray machines and traditional security systems, about $8 billion also paid for ambitious new technologies which seemed like a good idea at the time.

Apparently it has not got enough money either, next year it has applied for more than $1.3 billion for airport screening technologies.

According to the Washington Post, politicians, auditors and national security experts question whether the government is too quick to us technology as a solution for security.

Government auditors said the TSA and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, were not testing and evaluate technology before spending cash.

The puffer machines have become a prime example. They were designed to dislodge explosive particles by shooting air blasts at passengers. The problem is that they didn’t work in a airport environment and yet were deployed in many airports before the TSA had fully tested them,

The agency stopped buying and deploying the puffer machines to airports in June 2006 and shoved 116 machines in storage.