You'll never guess how much the TSA's Randomizer app cost

Technically Incorrect: It's on an iPad. It has two arrows. And, apparently, quite a price.

Close
Drag
Autoplay: ON Autoplay: OFF


Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


randomizer.jpg

You go left, you go right. You go right, you go left.

TdoggE/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

You might not have encountered it yet, but it glories in its Apple-like simplicity.

It has two arrows and, should you see one of those arrows displayed on an iPad as you're going through airport security, you should follow it.

It's called the Randomizer app. It's there to stop you from predicting which of the Transportation Security Administration's pre-check lines might make you more likely for a random check.

However, it's causing one or two heads to sway involuntarily from left to right without stopping.

This is because developer Kevin Burke wanted to find out how much this app cost the TSA. What he discovered, through a Freedom of Information Act request, was that it may have cost $1.4 million.

This seems a lot of money for something that seems more rudimentary than revolutionary.

However, the sum seems to cover the whole of the Randomizer project. At the very least, says Burke, it cost the first payment of $336,413.59.

Even this price feels like the sort Dolce and Gabbana might charge for an app that either flashed "Dolce" or "Gabbana."

You'll be wondering, though, what kind of fine brains created this jewel. It seems the TSA bought the app from IBM.

IBM didn't immediately responded to a request for comment. However, according to the TSA, the $1.4 million represented a larger contract with IBM involving several projects.

The total development cost for the Randomizer app, the TSA says, was $47,400.

I'm very partial to efficiency at airports, so if this app speeds the process, my mental arrows will point to the sky.

I worry too, though, about government efficiency and I can only hope there are more directions to this purchase than first meet the iPad.