TSA Spent Millions of Dollars for a Randomizer App

• April 4, 2016 5:14 pm


The Transportation Security Administration paid IBM $336,413.59 for an app that randomly selects right or left when tapped by a TSA agent.

Geek first reported that IBM won the contract for the TSA Randomizer iPad app and the total paid for the project is $1.4 million.

Kevin Burke, a developer who submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request looking for the details of the app. A breakdown of the costs was not provided in Burke's FOIA documents.

The purpose of the Randomizer app is to randomly choose whether travelers in the TSA Pre-Check lane go left or right. It eliminates the ability of a person to predict which lane they will be assigned to and how to avoid random checks. The app is used in roughly 150 airports.

Bloomberg reported that the app debuted in 2014 when the TSA was forced to take a $100 million cut in its 2016 budget.

Geek also reported that one of the first things a coder learns is how to create a program that generates and outputs random numbers.

Burke submitted the request in December 2014 and received the documents in March 2016, as well as a letter explaining that a majority of the information was blacked out. FOIA requests are meant to be completed within 20 days.

President Barack Obama famously touted that his administration would be the "most transparent administration in history." But the AP reported in March that the Obama administration has set a record for censoring government files or completely denying access.

In 215,584 cases the government said it could not find records, a requester refused to pay for copies or the government determined a request to be unreasonable.

"When it comes to our record on transparency, we have a lot to be proud of," Josh Earnest said. "And frankly, it sets a standard that future administrations will have to live up to."


Published under: Government Spending, Transparency, TSA