Hudson’s bipartisan efforts are to be applauded

October 30, 2013

Congressman Richard Hudson deserves a pat on the back after his Transportation Security Acquisition Reform Act received unanimous bipartisan support by the House Homeland Security Committee. Co-sponsors included lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.

HR 2719, if passed, would introduce greater transparency and accountability for TSA spending decisions through a series of what Hudson calls “common sense reforms.” Specifically, his bill would require the TSA to: develop and share with the public, for the first time, a strategic, multi-year technology investment plan; share key information with Congress on technology acquisitions, including cost overruns, delays or technical failures within 30 days of identifying the problem; establish principles for managing equipment in inventory to eliminate expensive storage of unusable or outdated technologies; and report on its goals for contracting with small businesses.

In short, this is a great idea that should be broadened to include many other facets of the federal government. But therein lies the beauty of Hudson’s goal — the freshman Republican knew not to reach for the stars. Instead, he decided to reach for a piece of the atmosphere and he’s now “this close” to getting it.

“Today’s bipartisan bill demonstrates that Democrats and Republicans can work together, and I’m proud of the progress we are making on such an important issue,” Hudson said.

Some dollar-specific examples of how greater transparency might save a buck or two:

* 250 Rapiscan backscatter X-ray scanners in airports across the country were removed after criticism that the on-screen images were too realistic. Each machine costs about $170,000 — a total of $42.5 million;

* In 2010, TSA spent $30 million on explosive trace detection machines that were found to be ineffective and eventually removed from service;

* Mismanagement has left $185 million in taxpayer-funded equipment, some unusable or outdated, locked up in warehouses.

There is still plenty of work to be done. Hudson hopes to get his bill on the House floor for a vote by the end of the year. Meanwhile, he’s working with colleagues from the Senate on a companion bill that would pave the way for a smooth approval process.

During a recent visit to Rockingham and to The Daily Journal, Hudson noted a level of frustration during his first year in office regarding lawmakers’ bickering over the Affordable Care Act, the Farm Bill and other issues. Then Hudson had an idea.

As chairman of the TSA Subcomittee, he knows there are many things on which improvements can be made in such a large bureaucracy. Hudson focused on a couple of those items, and thanks to his restraint he now is closer to achieve goals that could result in “a significant amount of savings” of taxpayer dollars.

“I think it’s the way the American people want us to do business” Hudson said of the bipartisan effort to increase transparency and accountability without the political infighting.

We couldn’t agree more. Let’s hope that by tackling these smaller but still-important issues, perhaps some dialogue can be had towards finding bipartisan support for resolutions to some of the larger issues as well.