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The cost to the taxpayer? In 2006, it was $66 million.

One TSA employee, on Jan. 20, 2003, suffered a wrenched back while getting out of a car upon arrival at work. Despite a medical examiner’s written opinion that the employee was “either exaggerating their symptoms or actively trying to mislead this examiner,” the employee had received $88,000 by May 2007.

Deepwater troubles

TSA officials have also been discovered helping contractors evade tests by auditors from their own government agency.

When DHS Inspector General auditors conducted covert quality tests of security at San Francisco International Airport, TSA officials tipped off the contractor running the checkpoint, Covenant Aviation Security (CAS).

TSA officials allowed CAS personnel to track the IG auditors using the airport’s vast system of security cameras and then radio the checkpoint workers when a tester was headed their way.

TSA officials denied involvement, but that was refuted by the contractor, according to an October 2006 IG report.

The Coast Guard’s “Deepwater” program — where they contracted with Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS) to modernize eight cutters — is another example of waste at DHS.

ICGS spent nearly $100 million to attach 13-foot ramps to the backs of 110-foot cutters so that small boats could launch into the water quickly to chase suspicious watercraft. But the ramps caused the ships’ hulls to crack, and the boats now sit in a Baltimore harbor waiting to be dismantled.

The Government Accountability Office said the Coast Guard’s oversight of ICGS “lacked rigor.”

Another area where DHS has spent millions of dollars on questionable items is through its grants to public safety departments in the 50 states.

Since 2003, DHS has spent $22.7 billion in grants to “states, territories, urban areas and transportation authorities.”

Localities have used the money to bulk up their police and fire departments, SWAT teams and other emergency-response units and systems, including defenses against biological and chemical weapons. But critics have charged that much of the money has gone to states and localities where terrorism is not a realistic threat.

The DHS funding funnel has become a billion-dollar annual industry, said Homeland Security Research, a private-sector consulting firm.

“The Department of Homeland Security, I believe, is a mistake. We didn’t need to do that,” said former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who was tasked with driving the initiative through the House but now regrets having done so.

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