The internet is full of random number generators, random word generators, and even random taco generators. Creating a program that generates random numbers is one of the simplest coding exercises—in fact, according to Geek.com, it's so basic that most beginner programming students learn it early on. And yet, America’s Transportation Security Administration reportedly paid about $1.4 million for a randomizer app.
The app is used at 100 airports throughout the United States to randomly choose which travelers get directed to the pre-check lane, according to The Next Web. The iPad app generates left or right-pointing arrows when a TSA agent touches the screen, and is designed both to speed up the line process, and to make it impossible for travelers to predict random checks.
Developer Kevin Burke noticed the TSA randomizer app on a trip to the airport, and began to wonder who made it, and just how much it cost. He submitted a Freedom of Information Act requesting details about the randomizer, and found out the app was made by IBM for around $336,000. Additional documentation, however, revealed more payments related to the randomizer totaling approximately $1.4 million.
Burke was shocked by the price, and decided to post the information he'd uncovered on his personal website. He did, however, note that it’s unclear whether all of that money went towards the app itself or additional programming work.
“Unfortunately we don't know everything the TSA got for that $1.4 million,” he explained. “They might have just gotten the iPad app; they might have gotten iPads, or work on multiple different apps, including the TSA Randomizer.” Nevertheless, it’s a surprising sum for an app Burke claims “a beginner could build in a day.”