TSA put the recruiters who hired all of the excellent baggage screeners up in resorts


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Jeff White
July 16, 2003, 10:02 AM
Philadelphia Inquirer
July 16, 2003

Government Contractor's Use Of Resort Hotels Spurs Inquiry

Airport-screener recruiters had lavish digs. The Transportation Security Administration is faulted.

By Leslie Miller, Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Investigators are looking into why the Transportation Security Administration paid a contractor to house recruiters for airport screeners at resort hotels featuring golf courses, pools and spas.

The inquiry by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general comes amid rising criticism by lawmakers who say the TSA will not detail where its money goes.

The inspector general is auditing bills submitted by NCS Pearson - now called Pearson Government Solutions - which the TSA hired to recruit more than 56,000 airport security screeners.

The inquiry was prompted by a letter from Sens. Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.) and Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), who questioned a seven-week stay by 20 Pearson recruiters at the Wyndham Peaks Resort & Golden Door Spa in Telluride, Colo. The resort boasts an 18-hole golf course, spectacular views, an indoor pool and fluffy robes.

Dorgan and Wyden said they asked for the investigation after an earlier inquiry was brushed off by TSA chief James Loy.

"TSA recruiters put staying at posh resorts ahead of their mission to enhance security at America's airports," they wrote in a June 27 letter to Loy.

The query about the Colorado hotel raised questions about other luxury hotels where contractors stayed, sometimes for months: the Waldorf Astoria in New York, the Manele Bay Hotel in Hawaii, the Hawk's Cay Resort in the Florida Keys, and the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

How much the TSA spent on the hotels is still being tabulated, said Richard Berman, assistant inspector general for audits.

TSA spokesman Brian Turmail defended the stays, noting that special government rates were negotiated. Those rates run from $55 to $208 a night, depending on location, according to the General Services Administration.

The hotels were chosen based on price, availability, space, proximity to airports, and sophisticated internal telecommunications systems needed to process job applications, Turmail said.

Berman disputed Turmail's assertion about telecommunications equipment. "They did not have the kind of secure communications that were required, and they had to lease or import communication lines," which drove up the cost, he said.

Berman also said he understood that Pearson was hired partly because it had its own testing centers around the country, negating the need for hotels.

The decision to use hotels may have driven up expenses, Berman said. The cost of Pearson's contract rose from $104 million to $700 million in less than a year.

David Hakensen, spokesman for Arlington, Va.-based Pearson, referred requests for comment to the TSA.

Turmail said the TSA had withheld $90 million and could seek more from Pearson. The agency held the money after the Defense Contract Audit Agency, the Pentagon's auditing arm, found that one-third to one-half of $18 million in expenses charged by a Pearson subcontractor could be characterized as wasteful and abusive.

The TSA, part of the Homeland Security Department, was created after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Congress gave it less than a year to replace privately employed screeners at 424 commercial airports.

The TSA met the deadline, but some in Congress believe it over-hired and has spent too freely in other areas.

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El Tejon
July 16, 2003, 10:13 AM
Gee, I feel so safe now.:rolleyes:

Fly320s
July 16, 2003, 03:35 PM
a contractor to house recruiters for airport screeners

Why is a recruiter needed to find airport screeners? It's not like they are head hunters for Fortune 500 companies looking for the next CEO, CFO or chairman of the board. Airport screeners aren't skilled labor nor are they required to be college grads to do the job well.

Looks to me lke someone found a big bucket of pork to feed on.

alan
July 16, 2003, 04:58 PM
Re this latest example of TSA largess, via taxpayer funds, one is reminded of the late Senator Dirksen of Il., who observed, re govenment agency spending, "you have a few hundred thousand here, a million of so there, taken by themselves, chicken feed, but when added together, pretty soon you are talking serious money".

What about those hand held wireless communicators that TSA spent roughly 7 million on, later telling the Air Marshalls not to use them, due to the possibility of interference with aircraft instruments. Does reach the level of "serious money", the spending of which requires explaining, perish the thought of inconveniencing the sachems at TSA.

Standing Wolf
July 16, 2003, 09:51 PM
Fire Mineta!

alan
July 17, 2003, 12:41 AM
Standing Wolf:

Re your "fire Mineta", likely a good idea, on general principle, but isn't Admiral James Loy the current head of TSA?

By the way, speaking of TSA and other varities of government baloney, did anyone catch, on Tuesday night, the softball routine that was the airport security segment of Flashpoints U.S.A., on public television.

Gewn Ifill played verbal "patty cakes" with Admital Loy, regarding a number of things, including the transfer of armed pilot training from Glynco, GA, near Atlanta, at an existing federal training facility, to Artesia NM, which is near nothing, and is otherwise hard to get to. As for this "no fly list", that seems a real foul up, even by bureaucratic standards, for which people should be hung. As it is, the miscreants responsible will likely be promoted.

Then came Brian Gumble who interviewed one Jim Hall, formerly of NTSB, which as I understand, investigates air crashes. Mr. Hall was completely opposed to the arming of airline pilots, which was obviously his opinion, or perhaps was what he was told to say. Either way, one would have thought that Gumble might have at least passingly inquired into the events of September 11, 2001, and how things at days end might have been, had the pilots been armed, as they used to be. Not so much as the proverbial raised eyebrow from Gumble.

Interestingly, the subject of the next broadcast, sometime in September was described as an inquiry into the trustworthyness of media. Re anything having to do with firearms, their level of trustworthyness is somewhat lower than that of a cod fish, which tends to be a "bottom feeder".

Erik
July 17, 2003, 01:12 AM
Pearson was brought on because the gov't had no idea how to go about to undertake a mass hiring in the time parameters mandated.

Hind sight being what it is, Pearson arguably only had some what of an idea.

As for the hotels, by all means review the expenses incurred. If all was on the up and up, fine. If not, cancel contracts and or charge someone.

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