Will TSA outsourcing model spread?

TSA will adopt smart cards after the FAA pilot and use them to control employee access to buildings and systems, Patrick Schambach says.

Henrik G. DeGyor

The Transportation Security Administration only recently began assembling its IT shop, but the approach it is following may be adopted by the proposed Homeland Security Department, according to a senior TSA official.

TSA is conducting a $1 billion task order competition, called Information Technology Managed Services, through which it will award a contract later this month to one vendor to operate all IT products and services for the agency.

TSA's CIO Patrick Schambach, the associate undersecretary for information and security technology, said the traditional approach is to let one contractor handle data center and network operations while another provides computers and yet another handles the help desk.

But under ITMS, a single vendor will provide all of TSA's computers, software, networks, data centers and help desk services, Schambach said.

The contractor will supply the full range of IT and telecommunications services for desktop management, enterprise architecture development, cybersecurity and related operations.

Industry experts say that by issuing a statement of objectives rather than a statement of work, the agency has put vendors in a better position to fulfill the contract.

In on the act

'I want to buy brains as well as seats,' Schambach said of the plan.

That approach might be adopted by the new Homeland Security Department, which will include agencies such as the Coast Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Secret Service.

Schambach said CIOs from the agencies and officials from the Office of Management and Budget are working on the department's enterprise architecture.

ITMS is one of the major IT initiatives at TSA, which is being built from scratch. The agency has a $2.4 billion budget for fiscal 2002 and has requested $4.8 billion for 2003.

Another TSA initiative will be to equip personnel with smart cards.

The Federal Aviation Administration is leading a smart-card pilot for the Transportation Department and will dole out the cards to 50,000 FAA employees and contractors later this year.

Keeping an eye out

TSA will adopt the smart cards after the FAA pilot and use them to control employee access to buildings and systems, Schambach said, adding, 'It's important for us to know who they [employees] are.'

TSA employees also will receive personal digital assistants and land mobile radios by the end of the year, he said, and voice over IP telephony also will be a major piece of the IT infrastructure.

All applications will be Web-based, Schambach said.

'The good news at TSA is that you do not have an IT infrastructure to support,' he said. 'The bad news is that you do not have an IT infrastructure to support the TSA mission.'

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