Owen WilliamsFormer TNW employee
Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their word Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their words friendlier. In his spare time he codes, writes newsletters and cycles around the city.
If you’ve traveled through the US recently, you might have seen a TSA officer at a security checkpoint holding an iPad and directing people to different lines.
That’s the TSA’s “randomizer” app that’s reportedly used at 100 airports to randomly sort which line you end up in, so it’s a non-discriminatory process and so that it’s harder for terrorists to detect any patterns.
One curious developer, Kevin Burke, who works at Shyp, submitted a FOIA request to find out how much that app cost. He finally got a response this month, more than a year after submitting it in December 2014.
The response reveals that the app’s development was contracted out to IBM and costed a whopping $336,414.59 in time and materials to develop.
When an app isn’t much more than a random number generator that decides which way an arrow points and costs that much to build, it’s hard to imagine how it could cost that much for the development alone – but it is typical of government spending.
Burke also discovered there were other components of the deal, adding up to $1.4 million, however it isn’t clear what those additional amounts were for as parts of the document was redacted.
So, wanting to make big bucks developing apps? Don’t go straight to the App Store, build something for the government instead.
Update: The TSA claims that the app was part of a larger project, and only cost $47,000 to build. It didn’t release the full document to back up that claim, so take it as you will, but this developer claims he could build it in just 15 minutes.
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