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This week TSA posted, what are purported to be the agency’s accomplishments in 2013 on the only the Federal agency propaganda blog in existence. In a summary of their performance the cited the diligence of their 45,000 workers in finding a total of 1,477 loaded guns after scanning and groping a whopping 638,705,790 passengers in 2013. In addition TSA also proudly claims to have “protected” travelers from thousands grenade shaped lighters, dummy explosives used by military trainers and a variety of penknives and multi-tool pocket knives, most of which had blades shorter than 3”.

Since TSA has generously provided these metrics, available here, we thought it might be fun to assess their performance in light of their massive workforce of 50,000 employees and $7.4 billion annual budget.

TSA 2013 Metrics

Number of Screenings 638,705,790
Budget $7,398,000,000
Workforce size 50,000
Cost/screening $11.58
Security fee/screening $2.50
9/11 fees $1,596,764,475
Taxpayer portion $5,801,235,525
Taxpayer cost/screening $9.08
Guns Found 1,813
Cost/gun found $4,080,530
TSA workers per gun 28
Loaded guns 1,477
Cost/loaded gun found $5,008,802
TSA workers per loaded gun 34
Inert/replica and fake weapons 136
Cost/fake weapon $54,397,059
Stun Guns 562
Cost/ Stun Gun $13,163,701

It is interesting that every time a passenger passes through security it costs taxpayers $9.00 even if they never fly. This airlines subsidy costs Americans nearly $6 billion a year and deprives other more worthy needs such as infrastructure renewal, medical research or veterans benefits of much needed funding.

Of the 1,813 guns confiscated, over 300 were empty and effectively harmless and not one incident of ill intent was identified in any of these seizures. In fact many of those from whom guns were confiscated were licensed to carry them anywhere in public except past a TSA checkpoint, including many law enforcement officials. It cost Americans over $4 million per gun to protect travelers from these registered handgun owners that had legally walked through these crowded airports only minutes earlier with a concealed weapon.

So, while TSA has never caught or even identified a terrorist, in 2013 they deployed 28 TSA workers for an entire year to find one gun.

If only loaded guns are counted, the cost per gun increases to over $5 million and required 34 workers at work for a year to intercept them.

The vast majority of items seized by TSA in the name of protecting air travel include replica weapons, stun guns and odd artifacts that their less than cerebral workers can’t identify along with the ubiquitous and potentially lethal bottled water, baby formula and jelly.

While these numbers may seem bad enough, the reader should take heart knowing that TSA also managed to waste nearly $1 billion of its budget on what GAO and Congressional oversight committees have characterized as a voodoo behavioral profiling program known as SPOT that so far has only succeeded in racially profiling Mexicans in hopes of intercepting drug mules, which they have never managed to do despite four high incidents of blatant racial targeting.

TSA is also facing Congressional scrutiny for payroll fraud for paying untrained personnel nearly $20 million in overtime to “investigate” non-criminal incidents that could have been performed by ordinary personnel.

TSA is frequently criticized for its inconsistent and capricious treatment of passengers but one thing remains consistent with TSA, the tendency to do the wrong thing every time and continue to pander to the criminal element that is pervasive in its workforce.

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