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The TSA paid $1.4 million for an app that takes 10 minutes to develop

TSA Randomizer App Cost

If you’ve flown across the country at any point in the past couple of years, you’ve probably come into contact with the Transportation Security Administration’s Randomizer app on the iPad. It’s an incredibly simplistic app that decides which lane you’re going to stand in while you wait to pass through security.

What you might not know is that the TSA paid $1.4 million for the app.

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In December of 2014, software developer Kevin Burke submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for information regarding the TSA’s app. 15 months later, he finally got a response which included two documents:

  • A disclaimer about how the TSA had to black out some of the information
  • The contract between IBM and the TSA

According to the contract, the TSA paid $336,413.59 for an app that randomly displays either an arrow pointing to the left or an arrow pointing to the right.

Shortly after Burke shared this information, TIME Magazine’s Pratheek Rebala found several other payments relating to the contract which totaled an unbelievable $1,444,315. There’s a chance that some of that money went to pay for the actual hardware itself, but nevertheless, it’s a massive sum.

But the cherry on top of this whole story has to be the following video, which shows a coder recreating the app from scratch in just under 10 minutes flat:

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.