Congressmen Question TSA's $50 Million Uniform Deal with VF Imagewear
Republican lawmakers are questioning the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) decision to sign an expensive contract for new uniforms just as the agency faces budget cuts due to the government sequester.
"The rationale behind the timing of the TSA's uniform contract and other uncertainties surrounding the contract award raise concerns," wrote Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah and John Mica, R-Fla., to TSA administration John Pistole. Chaffetz is the chairman on the House subcommittee on national security, and Mica is the chairman the committee on transportation and infrastructure and on the subcommittee of government operations.
The $50 million contract, signed with uniform and apparel supplier VF Imagewear on Feb. 27, is a one-year deal that would provide TSA agents with uniforms including shirts, pants and accessories. The contract stipulates that the parties can agree to extend the contract for an additional year. VF Imagewear is a part of apparel giant VF Corporation.
The deal was signed just days before the government sequester took effect, cutting $85 billion from the federal budget. A few days before the contract was signed, transportation secretary Ray LaHood said the sequester would force the Federal Aviation Administration to take a $600 million budget cut, leading to employee furloughs and increased delays of up to 90 minutes at major airports.
In addition to questioning the timing of the deal, the representatives asked how much the TSA spent on uniforms per year, how much each agent received and how much of the clothing in the new deal would be made in the United States. Politico reported that some of VF Imagewear's uniforms are made in Mexico.
The TSA said the $50 million amount represents the total budget available and not necessarily the amount spent on uniforms, and that the contract was needed because its last uniform deal expired on February 17 and the agency would not have been able to outfit new employees. "Without the contract bridge, TSA would not have been able to procure additional uniforms which are lower than or equal to the cost of any other uniform worn by officers in the federal government," the agency said in a statement.
Reps. Chaffetz and Mica gave the TSA until April 11 to provide information about the contract. The full letter is available on FoxNews.com.