The impending sequester did not prevent the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from acting in late February to seal a $50-million deal to purchase new uniforms for its agents--uniforms that will be partly manufactured in Mexico.
Soon after this new investment in TSA uniforms, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned Americans that the lines are already lengthening at airports due to the sequester.
"We are already seeing the effect on the ports of entry, the big airports for example," Napolitano told Politico on Monday. "Some of them had very long lines this weekend."
"Look people, I don't mean to scare, I mean to inform," Napolitiano said."If you're traveling, get to the airport earlier than you otherwise would. There's only so much we can do with personnel and please don't yell at the customs officers, the TSA officers. They aren't responsible for sequester."
On Feb. 27, the agency announced that on Feb. 22 it had awarded a one-year contract to VF Imagewear, Inc., which owns the Lee brand and Wrangler Hero, to provide the uniforms. "This contract will address the requirements of the TSA, Office of Security Operations, TSA Uniform Program," the award states.
This is not the first time VF Imagewear has been commissioned to make TSA uniforms. The company secured a $98 million contract in 2010 that expired on Feb. 17, 2013.
The latest contract will run until Feb. 17, 2014, with a one-year optional transitional period. By next year, the DHS hopes to have TSA and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) secure their uniforms with a single combined contract.
TSA's new $50-million one-year uniform contract was announced just two days before the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts, known as the sequester, took effect. The cuts, according to CBO, amount to $44 billion in reduced spending in fiscal 2013.