TSA sets performance goals for $1b contract

What's on TSA's plate?

  • Security of civil aviation and all other modes of transportation under Transportation's purview

  • Federal security screening operations for air transportation

  • Program and regulatory activities, including administering laws and enforcing regulations for all modes of transportation

  • Coordination of intelligence related to transportation security

  • Development of plans to deal with threats to transportation security

  • R&D efforts to enhance security

  • Coordination of aviation, road, rail and maritime transportation security for the federal government'excluding the Defense Department'during national emergencies

The Transportation Security Administration is taking a radical approach to setting up its IT infrastructure, a move some industry experts say will help the agency meet its technology goals.

TSA released a statement of objectives this month for a $1 billion, seven-year contract.

The agency is seeking a 'contractor that brings not just seats, but the expertise to identify, implement and manage the most effective and efficient application and use of IT to meet TSA's mission,' according to the statement.

Industry experts said that by issuing a statement of objectives rather than the traditional statement of work, the agency has put vendors in a better position to help TSA meet its challenges.

'TSA has stated the problem it wants solved,' said Chip Mather, a senior vice president with Acquisition Solutions Inc., a consulting firm in Chantilly, Va. 'The industry is getting a chance to propose what it considers the best solution. So, the agency is buying results.'

The company is working with TSA on its infrastructure project.

Proposals for the IT Managed Services contract are due July 8, and an award is expected July 25.

The performance-based contract will have a three-year base period and two two-year options.

The contractor will be responsible for securing data and providing servers, wireless devices, handheld computers, land mobile radios, and voice, telecommunications and help desk service.

The contract has been highly anticipated since the agency formed in November, when President Bush signed the Aviation and Security Act. The law makes TSA responsible for securing the nation's transportation systems.

From scratch

As a new agency, and likely a key component of the proposed Homeland Security Department, its IT infrastructure must be built from the ground up, a considerable challenge but also one that will let it use the latest technology.

The agency has about 41,300 employees now but expects to reach 67,000 workers at TSA headquarters, 400 airports and 21 field offices when fully staffed. The administration has requested $4.8 billion for TSA in fiscal 2003, an increase of $3.5 billion over this year.

Raymond Bjorklund, vice president of consulting services at Federal Sources Inc. of McLean, Va., said vendors may find it difficult to respond to TSA's objectives, and the agency may find it challenging to evaluate responses and figure out which best meet its needs.

But Mather said TSA had offered a diligence period that let contractors meet with the IT Managed Service program staff through this week to get an understanding of the requirements.

'The more contractors understand the problem and constraints, the more likely they will submit superior solutions,' Mather said.

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