A multimillion-dollar pilot program designed to verify boarding passes and spot fake identification documents would be a complete waste for the Transportation Security Administration because it doesn't work reliably, according to lawmakers in Congress.
The system that the TSA wants to purchase would cost taxpayers about $130 million a year per 4,000 units purchased. But the system failed to check IDs against state and federal databases and did not reduce staff costs, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday.
"As TSA attempts to rebrand itself as a threat-driven agency, [the automated screening system] sticks out like a sore thumb," Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the House Committee on Homeland Security's transportation security subcommittee chairman, said at a hearing on the technology.
An investigation by The Daily in April found a major loophole in the Department of Homeland Security's identification screening process. With just a few clicks of a mouse and a transfer of cash, anyone willing to skirt the law can obtain counterfeit driver's licenses, which experts say can get anyone right past security and on to an airplane.
"Unless it can do some things like reduce the number of people we need, and maybe ping off some threat list of potential terrorists, then why would we spend the money?" Rogers told The Daily.
Kelly Hoggan, assistant administrator for the TSA's Office of Security Capabilities, said the agency isn't sure about the program's effectiveness and will put a hold on purchasing the equipment until next year.
"There's some issues with name matches, presentation with names, some issues as relates to IDs," Hoggan said. "These are all little things we're looking at."