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TSA Orders Re-Tests of Full-Body Scanners After Admitting 'Gross Errors' on Radiation Levels

March 14, 2011 at 12:12 PM | by | ()

Not to get too theoretical on a Monday, but in general agencies and companies go out of their way to solicit internal criticism. Literally billions of dollars are spent annually by Fortune 500 companies pulling all kinds of stunts—generating feedback, hiring outside consultants, even randomly shuffling workers around—just to make sure that criticism is flowing and adjustments are being made.

For some reason TSA does the exact opposite, with TSA officials going out of their way to prevent objections from ever really gaining traction. Just last month the agency was accused of holding back a report about radiation levels on their full-body scanners, for instance.

The results are as predictable as they are obnoxious: things are constantly going wrong, and TSA is constantly scrambling with half-formed excuses to assure us that actually everything is OK. Now the agency has been forced to commit to a total top-down reevaluation of every single full-body scanner used in every single American airport because—it turns out—there have been "gross errors about radiation emissions," among other "calculation errors, missing data and... discrepancies on paperwork by contractors."

Those concerns were of course getting highlighted by travelers for months, but they were dismissed by "frustrated" White House officials. It turns out that accepting the criticism would actually have been healthy and saved everybody a lot of time, to say nothing of avoiding potential safety concerns. Who knew?

As part of its damage control, TSA is promising to post all future radiation checks on their web site. It's a good first step, but it won't change the underlying problem with TSA's culture. This is an agency that thinks that traveler concern is actually traveler whining, and until that changes we're going to keep seeing these public relations—and actual—safety disasters.

In the meantime, here's hoping the re-tests come through as merely paperwork problems, and that TSA hasn't been frying passengers while ignoring their complaints.

[Photo: TSA]

Related Stories:
· TSA orders 're-tests' of radiation levels on airport body scanners [CNN]
· Technology [Jaunted]
· Airport Security [Jaunted]

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