Last year, $531,395.22 was left at TSA checkpoints!
But where does it go? A proposed law could change (pun intended) things.

The TSA collected about $499,000 in U.S. currency — and another $32,000 in foreign currency — at its checkpoints in 2012. This included:

  • MIA Miami International Airport – $39,613.00
  • LAS Las Vegas International Airport – $26,900.21
  • IAD Washington Dulles International Airport – $16,536.92
  • BWI Baltimore-Washington International Airport – $8,207.21
  • DCA Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport – $5,247.56
  • Over $10,000 at each of 14 major U.S. airports including SFO, PHX, DFW and ATL

And this is nothing new, as the TSA reports about $500,000 was left behind at airport security checkpoints in each of the past two fiscal years. With the TSA budget set at $7.4 billion for 2014, that would equate to only about 0.007% (or 1/14,000) of the agency’s funding. So while not a big deal on relative terms, it is still a good chunk of money!

Where’s The Money Currently Go?
Current law requires the TSA to use the abandoned funds for its mission — civil aviation security. Yes, there is a law for that:

49 USC § 44945(a) Disposition of Unclaimed Money.— [U]nclaimed money recovered at any airport security checkpoint shall be retained by the Transportation Security Administration and shall remain available until expended for the purpose of providing civil aviation security as required in this chapter.

However, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) has been trying for years to divert such found moneys to non-profit organizations. Enter “The TSA Loose Change Act”!

Under his current Bill pending in Congress, H.R. 1095, the above law would be revised to require the funds:

be annually transferred, based on requests for proposals, without further appropriation, by the Assistant Secretary to nonprofit organizations that operate airport centers in multiple locations throughout the United States to provide places of rest and recuperation for members of the Armed Forces and their families(my emphasis)

Not So Fast?
Now, according to the congressional report on this pending legislation, of the $531,395 collected by the TSA in 2012, only $6,539 had been expended, as of March 1, 2013, for the purpose of civil aviation security! So why not get going on putting this money to such good use? This is the government, duh.

Left money could mean a big funding boost to the USO in supporting our troops and families!

Left money could mean a big funding boost to the USO in supporting our troops and families!

In the TSA’s report on the feasibility of transferring the unclaimed money recovered at airport checkpoints to nonprofit organizations that are selected on a competitive basis, it was estimated it would cost the government $201,000 for the first year alone. This figure is apparrantly reached by minimizing overhead by awarding the FULL sum to ONE nonprofit, being the United Services Organizations (USO), a well-known Congressionally chartered nonprofit organization and operator of airport lounges for military service members and their families in multiple locations.

Lastly, the Committee on Homeland Security Report on the Bill left the door open for entertaining other nonprofits that may be qualified and appropriate for future consideration:

[T]he Committee believes that, if other nonprofit organizations begin to specialize in this type of work in the future, they should be able to submit a proposal to TSA as well to receive these unclaimed funds. Therefore, after reviewing TSA’s report, the Committee believes that in order to ensure fairness of opportunity in the future while minimizing administrative overhead, TSA should transfer the funds after a RFP is issued.

What’s Next?
Bill H.R. 1095 TSA Loose Change Act has passed the U.S. House and moved on to the Senate on December 3, 2013. During the House floor discussion of the Bill, the following was mentioned by Rep. Cedric Richmond:

Chairman Miller will be glad to know that this is not the first bill regarding servicemembers and veterans that the committee has seen moved during this Congress. Earlier this year, the Helping Heroes Fly Act, of which I was an original cosponsor, went on to become law. That legislation, introduced by my colleague on the Committee on Homeland Security, Representative Gabbard from Hawaii, requires TSA to provide expedited screening for severely injured servicemembers and veterans. Together, the Helping Heroes Fly Act and the TSA Loose Change Act display the committee’s commitment to honoring our servicemembers and veterans. (my emphasis)

You can find my post on the Helping Heroes Fly Act here!


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