DEA Paid Amtrak $800K for Information It Could Have Gotten for Free
The Drug Enforcement Administration reportedly paid an Amtrak secretary $854,460 over nearly 20 years for confidential information about train passengers, which the DEA could have lawfully obtained for free.
The employee was not publicly identified except as a "secretary to a train and engine crew" in a report on the incident by Amtrak's inspector general. The secretary was allowed to retire, rather than face administrative discipline, after the discovery that the employee had effectively been acting as an informant who "regularly" sold private passenger information since 1995 without Amtrak's approval, according to a one-paragraph summary of the matter.
On Monday, the office of Amtrak Inspector General Tom Howard declined to identify the secretary or say why it took so long to uncover the payments. Howard's report on the incident concluded, "We suggested policy changes and other measures to address control weaknesses that Amtrak management is considering." DEA spokesman Matt Barden declined to comment.
Passenger name reservation information is collected by airlines, rail carriers and others and generally includes a passenger's name, the names of other passengers traveling with them, the dates of the ticket and travel, frequent flier or rider information, credit card numbers, emergency contact information, travel itinerary, baggage information, passport number, date of birth, gender and seat number.
On Your World today, Neil Cavuto was joined by Jehmu Greene, Elizabeth MacDonald and Kennedy to discuss this unnecessary waste of taxpayer dollars.
Kennedy questioned why the DEA was obtaining train passenger information in the first place, calling the agency "suspect."
She also pointed out that Amtrak already receives huge amounts of federal aid, which should be reevaluated as long as wasteful government spending is being debated.
MacDonald asked, "What does it take to get fired by the federal government?"
"Federal work is not a right and it's not their own entitlement program ... Federal workers are more concerned about personnel rules than the taxpayer dollar," she added.
When Cavuto noted the growing U.S. deficit and challenging economic situation, Greene agreed that she is not happy about the waste, but characterized this issue at the DEA as a few "bad apples."
Kennedy disagreed, saying, "With the DEA, you're not talking about a couple of bad apples. This is a bad orchard."
Watch the clip above.