Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 5:15 PM

The Transportation Safety Administration, the government agency in charge of airport security, spent nearly a half-million dollars on an awards ceremony at a lavish hotel to pat themselves on the back. Among the expenditures:

The event planning company, MarCom Group Inc. of Fairfax, Va., was paid $85,552 for its work and given an additional $81,767 for plaques, $5,196 for official photographs, $1,486 for three balloon arches and $1,509 for signs.

The reception included finger food, coffee and cake that averaged $33 per person. Seven cakes cost a total of $1,850; three cheese displays, $1,500.

[…] Awards were presented to 543 Transportation Security Administration employees and 30 organizations, including a “lifetime achievement award” for one worker with the 2-year-old agency. Almost $200,000 was spent on travel and lodging for attendees.

Sounds like a nice little party. But that wasn’t enough for the poobahs in the TSA! They apparently thought that more was owed to them that just a lavish bash:

The investigation by the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general, Clark Kent Ervin, also found the TSA gave its senior executives bonuses averaging $16,000, higher than at any other federal government agency, and failed to provide adequate justification in more than a third of the 88 cases examined.

[…] Federal agencies on average gave cash awards to 49 percent of their executives in 2002, while 76 percent of TSA executives received them in 2003.

The inspector general reviewed 88 employees’ files and found that 38 percent “had no individual recommendation and justification for the performance award.”

“The legitimacy of such large awards is called into question by the lack of an appropriate selection process and the reliance on boilerplate justifications that could be applicable to anyone,” the report said.

The report also noted that fewer than 3 percent of nonexecutive employees received bonuses in 2003.

I guess the moral of that story is that it doesn’t pay to be a worker-bee in the TSA.

But what this taxpayer is really pondering is… how does this make us safer?

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