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Crack Down On Waste


Guest Casey Aden-Wansbury
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Guest Casey Aden-Wansbury

WASHINGTON – Senators Susan Collins, R-Me., and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., are asking the head of the Transportation Security Administration to ensure that specific actions are being taken to prevent wasteful spending at the Transportations Security Operations Center.

 

In a letter to Assistant Secretary David Stone, the Senators express “serious concerns” regarding a recently released Department of Homeland Security Inspector General report titled “Irregularities in the Development of the Transportation Security Operations Centers.”

 

The report cites breakdowns in management controls that led to waste and abuse and TSA stood up its TSOC. The Inspector General specifically points to inappropriate purchases – decorative items such as silk plants and art – totaling $500,000, improper use of federal purchase cards, and wasteful procurement and construction decisions, including 4,200 square-foot fitness center.

 

“The findings in this report are appalling,” said Senators Collins and Lieberman in a joint letter to Secretary Stone dated April 25, 2005. “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, Senators Collins and Lieberman said 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,” wrote the Senators.

 

Senators Collins and Lieberman asked Assistant Secretary Stone 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.

 

The full text of the letter is as follows:

 

April 25, 2005

 

Dear Secretary Stone:

 

 

We are writing to express our serious concerns regarding the recently released DHS Inspector General report titled “Irregularities in the Development of the Transportation Security Operations Center.”

 

The findings in this report are appalling. 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.

 

We recognize the tremendous strains that TSA faced during its developmental stages. The dramatic mobilization of 60,000 field employees in nearly 500 locations nationwide created a significant management challenge. That challenge was complicated by the lack of robust communications capabilities to direct field operations. These explanations were laid out well by Former Deputy Administrator Stephen McHale in his letter responding to the report. Yet, those reasons in no way excuse the findings of this 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.

 

We would appreciate your personal reassurance that TSA has taken specific actions since this incident, and others that occurred in this time frame, to ensure that similar incidents do not occur in the future. To this end, we would appreciate a written response outlining the specific measures you have established that will preclude any similar incidents in the future. Please also provide information on any disciplinary action taken as a result of this incident.

 

We look forward to personally hearing your response to these allegations. If you have any questions, please feel free to have your staff contact Kathy Kraninger of the majority staff at (202) 224-4751 or minority staff member Jason Yanussi at (202) 224-2627.

 

 

Sincerely,

Susan Collins

Chairman

 

Joseph Lieberman

Ranking Member

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