TSA's Very Expensive App Takes About 10 Minutes to Build [Updated]

The TSA Randomizer iPad app has two jobs: 1) point left or right, and 2) do it randomly. It’s an app a novice coder would write. And it cost the TSA $1.4 million.

In the video below Android developer Chris Pacia takes a crack at building the Randomizer himself, and gets the whole thing done in just over ten minutes. Pacia notes that his usual rate for app development is $100 per hour, meaning the TSA overpaid by around $1,399,990.


Kevin Burke, who initially filed a FOIA to learn more about the Randomizer, wrote in a blog post that expenses for the project were not itemized. Another site speculated that some of that $1.4 million might have gone towards hardware and training. What we do know is that at least $336,000 of the money went into the development of an app that does nothing but show an arrow pointing in one of two directions.

Update 4/5/16 5:00pm: While the price tag on the entire effort remains $1.4 million according to the FOIA received by Burke, the TSA claims the Randomizer app only cost $47,400.

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Die Fledermaus

You also have to pay for the consultants to gather at meetings then there are the meetings as to wether the arrow should be blue or red. Then there is the long meeting over the shape of the arrow. Should the arrow fade out and that duration versus just blinking out. Then those shapes have to be tested against a panel of people and then in a public setting to see which is th most liked and which works best. Then there are the meetings to make sure that nothing nefarious can happen with the devices and getting buy off from IA types to satisfy their concerns. Equipment has to be purchased. then the long training sessions to show people how to turn on and off the devices. Then there is the plan and equipment to control the devices. The infrastructure to support the the devices to make sure they cannot do anything more then run just the one application. That takes consultants to setup.

Yep that sounds like 1.4 million to me.