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IG auditors report TSA can't document screening program's performance or spending plan

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Photo - A new auditors report from the Department of Homeland Security Inspector-General says the performance or future budgeting of the department's program for screening its own employees and airport passengers cannot be documented. (AP Photo)
A new auditors report from the Department of Homeland Security Inspector-General says the performance or future budgeting of the department's program for screening its own employees and airport passengers cannot be documented. (AP Photo)
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Despite spending almost $900 million dollars on the program, the Transportation Security Administration can't ensure that its screening program for passengers and employees works.

According to a report by Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, TSA has no process for evaluating the performance of the program called Screening of Passengers by Observation or its workers.

"As a result, TSA cannot ensure that passengers at United States airports are screened objectively, show that the program is cost-effective or reasonably justify the program's expansion," according to the report.

SPOT has been expanded by $878 million since 2007 and has more than 2,800 full-time workers. It is supposed to pick out potential security threats based on behavioral clues that may indicate "some form of deception and fear of discovery."

In addition, the IG said because SPOT's training program is inconsistent and informal, TSA cannot demonstrate that it is screening passengers in a uniform manner.

Also, despite being told to look out for "prohibited items, undeclared currency and illegal aliens," TSA could not say how having the workers identify the three triggers, among others, play into the success of SPOT.

Finally, the IG points out that the program lacks a financial plan for future needs and operations, which in turn means TSA cannot show "that SPOT was cost effective, identify opportunities for improvement, or justify the program's expansion."

In response to the IG report, TSA officials said they were attending to concerns about the SPOT program before the auditors visited and developed and implemented a plan just after the auditors left.

Go here to review the full report.

Kelly Cohen is a member of The Washington Examiner Watchdog reporting team. She can be reached at kcohen@washingtonexaminer.com.

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