In light of sequester cuts, two chairmen of Congressional oversight committees – Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and John Mica (R-FL) – are asking why the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently spent a reported $50 million on a new uniform order for its personnel. The lawmakers have sent a letter to TSA's top officials, challenging everything from the decision to sign the contract to where the uniforms will be manufactured.
"The rationale behind the timing of TSA's uniform contract and other uncertainties surrounding the contract award raise concerns," Chaffetz and Mica wrote.
The contract, which was awarded to apparel maker VF Imagewear on February 27, will provide TSA employees with shirts, pants, belts and socks. According to a government statement, the new contract was needed to replace a prior deal that expired on February 17.
"The new DHS-wide contract to purchase all component uniforms won't take effect until next year, so TSA signed an interim two-year contract on February 22, 2013 with a $50-million dollar ceiling," the statement reads. "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."
Yet, Chaffetz and Mica find the new contract concerning, especially following warnings from Homeland Security and TSA officials that sequester-related budget cuts will likely cause flight delays at airports. The lawmakers are also alarmed about the possibility that at least some of the new TSA uniforms could be made outside of the U.S. – considering about 50% of VF Imagewear apparel is manufactured in Mexico, according to media reports.