A company awarded a $1 billion contract for airport security equipment performed so poorly that the Department of Homeland Security has recommended the project be put out for bid again.
The DHS inspector general, Richard Skinner, found in a recent report that Unisys received most of the $1 billion without providing the Transportation Security Administration much of the equipment it deems "critical to airport security and communications.''
''The original funding is almost exhausted but many airports still do not have basic information technology and a telecommunications infrastructure,'' the report says.
The federal officials who head airport security at hundreds of airports complained that Unisys supplied antiquated equipment, The Associated Press reports. The radios did not always communicate with each other inside the same concourse -- a crucial function during an emergency.
''We are not pleased with the level of services provided as the services are not state of the art and in fact are archaic,'' wrote one federal security director.
Another complained that some cell phones -- ''a hodgepodge of $20 Radio Shack sale rack phones'' -- were so old they actually have a mechanical bell that rings.
The inspector general did note that TSA had an enormous task to take over airport security from private contractors. The agency had inadequate funding and staffing to oversee the contract, the report said. The inspector general recommended TSA put the contract out to bid again once the money is exhausted.
TSA agreed to do so and said it has strengthened its procurement oversight.