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Transportation Security: 'Latte Spending' with Questionable Results

The 'above-the-fold' headline in Thursday's Washington Post told readers the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) "lost control of over $300 million spent by contractor to hire airport screeners." The original contract was estimated to cost $104 million in February 2002 and increased in stages ($343 million, March 2002; $600 million in November 2002; and to $741 million in April 2003), according to a defense contract audit report obtained by the Post. Even more outrageous were the numerous examples of how taxpayer dollars were spent. For example, $1,180 for 20 gallon ($3.69 a cup) for Starbucks coffee at a Santa Clara hotel or $4.4 million for a 'no show' fee for competency exams that were not taken by job applicants. In a press release, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) called the audit results "an outrage, and the CAGW president said, "This ranks as one of the most wasteful government contracts in memory. The bottom line is that American taxpayers spent $12,350 to hire each airport screener, whose first-year salary was $23,600. What a government!