DHS Requests $300 Million To Purchase Even More Devices That Don't Work

from the the-only-defect-i-see-is-that-not-enough-money-is-being-spent dept

For all of us who agree that the US government spends money wisely (yeah... that's pretty much nobody), here's yet another depressing story about throwing away perfectly good taxpayer money in the bizarre pursuit of... well, what exactly?

This particular story starts way back in the Cheney-Bush years (no, that's written correctly) when the administration was pushing for the adoption of the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal machine as a way to prevent importation of radioactive materials for use in dirty bombs or workshop nukes.

It's a promising idea. Anti-terrorism technology with a specific aim and purpose. This would be all well and good, except for one little problem: they don't work.

In January, the National Academy of Sciences released a report that found there was no way to know whether the machines, known as ASPs, worked as promised. An academy panel found that in promoting the machines to Congress, the department's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office had presented its findings "in ways that are incorrect and potentially misleading."

That report followed the department's decision to abandon plans to use ASPs for primary screening at ports and borders because of such questions.

The DHS has a much different definition of "abandon" than you or I (or Webster) do, apparently:

Now, the nuclear detection office said it intends to buy up to 400 ASPs by 2016, according the office's budget request, even though the department has not fulfilled internal requirements to conduct an independent review of the results of ASP testing before buying the equipment, according to the new GAO report.

Interesting. No, wait, the other thing: Preposterous. Even better, the GAO found that the DHS has no intention of ever having the ASPs independently reviewed. But that won't stop it from asking for more money, despite it being stated earlier by the Obama administration that this very program would be scaled back:

In February 2010, Obama administration officials told Lieberman that they had decided to sharply scale back the ASP program because of continuing questions about its costs and performance. But in February this year, department officials said in a budget document that they intended to use the machines widely for secondary screening. The department said that "between 300 and 400 ASP systems are required to complete the currently planned build-out."

Well, I'm sure the DHS knows best. After all, way back in 2006, the GAO found that the program's adminstrators had "underestimated the costs, overstated the benefits and provided misleading information to Congress." This isn't the sort of thing that stops an unsuccessful government program, though. If anything, it just means "double down."


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jul 2011 @ 12:15pm

    "...Weapons not food, not homes, not shoes
    Not need, just feed the war cannibal animal
    I walk the corner to the rubble that used to be a library
    Line up to the mind cemetary, now
    What we don't know keeps the contracts alive an movin'
    They don't gotta burn tha books they just remove 'em
    While arms warehouses fill as quick as the cells
    Rally round tha family, pocket full of shells... "

    -Rage Against the Machine: Bulls on Parade

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