This is what happens when after an emergency Congress mandates that some new agency makes a series of rushed arbitrary deadlines

April 30th, 2012

The emergency was 9/11, and the agency was our favorite gropers at the Transportation Security Agency:

┬áIf we were going to do anything other than just implement ATSA’s particulars-good, bad, and ugly-there was no possibility of making the big deadlines later in the year. For instance, a credible case could be made that rushing to hire 50,000 new employees into an agency that didn’t previously exist might result in excessive cost and uncertain hiring quality. Also, since the physical act of buying and installing brand new screening equipment across the country would use up virtually all of the time allotted, there was precious little time to consider the full range of technology options. Meeting the ATSA deadlines would require skipping over any independent review of the staff recommendations for more than a billion dollars of spending. If the DOT was going to push back on the fine print contained in ATSA, it would have do so now and take the public flak for not being able to achieve the urgently needed security improvements. “The choice is to debate the best way to move forward or simply implement, one or the other,” I said. Secretary Mineta did not hesitate, fiddle, or flinch when he told me, “You are going to make every one of those deadlines.”