The TSA's million dollar app

  • 5 April 2016
  • NormanL
The TSA's million dollar app

The TSA decided it needed a cool, new way to foil terrorists. So, like any foward-thinking organization, it decided to get itself an app to make it harder for the bad guys to game which security line they would use in the TSA's pre-screen process. The problem is how much it all cost:

TSA Pre-Check is faster, but it also includes random searches and that’s where the Randomizer app comes in. The app randomly chooses whether travelers go left or right in the Pre-Check lane. That way, nobody can predict which lane each person is assigned to and therefore can’t figure out how to avoid the random checks.

So how much did the TSA pay to have the Randomizer iPad app developed? At least $336,413.59.

That’s $336,413.59 for an app that does nothing more than randomly select left or right a few hundred times an hour.

And things get much worse:

The contract for the TSA Randomizer app was won by IBM. The total paid for the project is actually $1.4 million, but the cost is not broken down in the documents Burke received in response to his request. It could be IBM supplied all the iPads and training as well as the app itself. Even so, the cost of the project is crazy. It’s an app that is just randomly selects left or right.

The next time someone says, with a straight face, government spending has been cut to the bone, and there's just nothing else left to eliminate from any agency's budget, remember the TSA's randomizer app.

And know that there isn't just more room to cut, there's a strong argument that some federal agency budgets should be put through a woodchipper.