TSA defends storage costs targeted by lawmakers as wasteful spending

The Transportation Security Administration is defending the money it spends on storing equipment it is not using.

The spending has provoked criticism from lawmakers who have described it as wasteful. Lawmakers were reacting to a report from the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, which said the TSA could save $800,000 a year by reducing its storage of unused equipment.

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The TSA said it is spending less money than it used to on warehousing equipment.

"In the past few years, TSA has reduced the annual cost for its warehouse leases and related expenses by working directly with warehouse owners and awarding the warehouse operations contract to a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business," the agency said in a statement.

"TSA is working to fully address the majority of OIG’s recommendations and has already begun to develop an inventory management policy," the agency continued. "TSA understands the need to reassess warehouse space requirements and will do so on an annual basis, taking into consideration cost savings and fluctuations in storage requirements."

The issue is set to be scrutinized at a hearing Wednesday by the House Homeland Security Committee, where lawmakers have made clear that they think the TSA is spending too much on storage. 

"TSA must take immediate steps to stop spending $800,000 per year to lease space for obsolete and unusable technology," the top-ranking Democrat on the panel, Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.), said in a statement this week.

"Every dollar wasted is a dollar that is not spent on protecting this nation and fixing known security vulnerabilities," Thompson continued.

The agency has said the equipment was necessary "to fulfill its security responsibilities," even if it is currently being stored in warehouses.

Assistant Administrator of Acquisitions Karen Shelton Waters is scheduled to testify at the hearing on the TSA's acquisition and leasing practices.

She is scheduled to be joined by DHS Director of Advanced Research Projects Agency Paul Benda, Government Accountability Office Director of Forensic Audits and Investigative Services Stephen Lord and DHS Deputy Inspector General Charles Edwards.