by: Scott MacFarlane Updated:WASHINGTON —
A series of new reports uncovered by Channel 2 Action News is raising questions about whether the government agency that protects America's airports is using every dollar wisely.
Channel 2's Scott MacFarlane obtained an internal investigation that found the Transportation Security Administration has mothballed tens of millions of dollars of security screening equipment.
The investigation found important equipment collecting dust, sitting idle in some Texas warehouses. The investigation found some of the equipment has sat so long, it's now obsolete.
"Some of it (has been) sitting there for over a year. And (it's) very important for the security of the people of the United States," Rep. John Mica, R-Fla.
MacFarlane checked the log of what's collecting dust. The items include explosive detection equipment, liquid scanners and items used to screen passengers.
A TSA spokesman told MacFarlane it needs a large reserve of equipment in case of a crisis or equipment shortages at the 450 airports the agency serves.
In fact, many government agencies are notorious for storing piles of equipment in the basement. Even congressmen do so on Capitol Hill.
MacFarlane dug deeper and found TSA is being forced to potentially squander resources above ground too.
Channel 2 Action News brought cameras to some small airports nationwide, including Beckley, W.Va., where, despite only a handful of passengers traveling each day, TSA must staff a security post.
Charles Grimm was one of the few passengers on board.
"This flight saves me two hours each way, plus I don't have to pay to park at the airport," Grimm said.
Congress, under a controversial program, requires airlines and TSA to service small cities, which means above ground, and below, a lot of equipment sits far from your next flight.