Homeland Security Blowing $300M on Sketchy Scanners

Department skipped a mandatory test on ASP device, GAO complains
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2011 12:56 PM CDT
Trucks pass through an Advanced Spectroscopic Portal toward a security booth Wednesday, April 11, 2007 at the New York Container Terminal in the Staten Island borough of New York.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

(Newser) – Homeland Security plans to buy 400 new radiation detection machines, even though it’s skipped its own internal requirements to test them first, the Government Accountability Office complained in a report today. These Advanced Spectroscopic Portal machines have a checkered past, the Washington Post reports: In January, the National Academy of Sciences said there was no way to know if they worked, and accused Homeland Security of presenting them to Congress “in ways that are incorrect and potentially misleading.”

That report got Homeland Security to dump the ASPs as their primary port and border screening tool. Yet now the department has ordered 400 more by 2016, at a price of $300 million. Homeland Security has told the GAO that it agrees with the need for more tests—but still hasn’t scheduled any. Critics are livid. “At this point, it is critical that the department begin working on a plan B,” fumes Joe Lieberman.

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