The summary of a classified Inspector General audit of the Federal Air Marshal Service reveals some damning information about how the the program spends tax dollars. In a brief paragraph-long synopsis of the full document made public this week, investigators report identifying “vulnerabilities with Federal Air Marshal Service’s contribution to international flight security.”
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is defending the way it spends tax dollars after a scathing Homeland Security Inspector General audit of the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) – a program which the TSA oversees. The mostly classified report calls for nearly half of the FAMS budget to instead be spent on more effective security measures.
Although the full audit remains classified, a paragraph-long synopsis obtained by CNN leaves little doubt that government watchdogs considered the program largely wasteful. The five-sentence summary noted that the IG “identified $394 million in funds that could be put to better use.” The entire annual operating budget of the FAMS is said to be little more than $800 million.
According to the just released summary, in one government audit which evaluated the FAMS ability to interdict an improvised explosive device (IED) in flight, the air marshal program was found lacking. “We identified vulnerabilities with FAMS’ contribution to international flight security,” the OIG memo released Tuesday explained.
Not surprisingly, the TSA tread carefully when addressing reports that government inspectors deemed nearly half of the FAMS budget to be misspent. In the past, the Homeland Security Agency has defended the air marshal service as “essential.”
“TSA appreciates the work of the Office of the Inspector General,” the agency said in a statement to CNN. “The Federal Air Marshal Service continues to evolve mission tactics in light of threats to transportation security. While we cannot comment on the specifics of the OIG’s recommendation due to its sensitive nature, TSA continues to examine and explore methods and capabilities to further mitigate all risks to aviation security.”
The brief overview of the larger, classified report did not detail which specific functions of the FAMS were judged to be a waste of tax dollars. The abbreviated OIG memo also neglected to specify which duties performed by federal air marshals were considered worth maintaining in the future.
[Image: US Northern Command]