The Transportation Security Agency uses inaccurate accounting to make private security screening at airports appear more expensive than it really is, Republican Rep. John Mica has charged.
"It has once again been confirmed that the agency has cooked the books and inflated the cost of private screening under federal supervision as opposed to the cost of operating all federal screening," Mica said Monday, according to The Hill.
"TSA has done everything possible to maintain its bloated administrative bureaucracy," said Mica, who chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the last Congress.
The Florida congressman's remarks came after a report from the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general concluded that TSA's financial analysis of the Screening Partnership Program is inaccurate.
Controversy has arisen as to whether private security screeners are as efficient as the TSA. Congress created the agency after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to put the federal government in charge of screening in a bid to prevent terrorism.
The TSA has since allowed 16 airports to hire private screeners under the partnership program. Those airports say the program gives them more flexibility. They say they can more easily place screeners where they are needed and more easily hire and fire workers, USA Today reports
But TSA Administrator John Pistole has resisted growth in the private screening program, arguing that private screeners are more expensive and that federal officials must still watch over them.
However, Mica said the TSA has overstated the cost of private screening operations — by more than $420,000 in one instance, The Hill reports.
"This is outrageous," Mica said. "In this case, TSA's blatant disregard for private-federal screening has unfairly resulted in a 7 percent increase in the cost of private screening operations compared to federal screening."
Mica said TSA also has "wasted" taxpayer dollars by bringing too many workers on board. It has 66,000 staffers, made up of 15,000 administrators and 51,000 screeners.
"This excessive TSA staffing at airports participating in the SPP has resulted in duplicative costs that have still not been factored into estimates," Mica said. "It is unacceptable that taxpayer funds are wasted on such unnecessary duplication of efforts."
Mica said he will keep trying to restrain the "out-of-control agency" by finding the accurate cost difference between private and government screening.
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