TSA starts from scratch on office systems setup

Initially, the IT managed services contract will provide the agency with basic technology'no ' 'Star Wars' kind of stuff,' Patrick R. Schambach says.

Henrik G. DeGyor

The Transportation Security Administration has begun to put its IT shop in order.

Fleshing out an IT infrastructure began late last month after the agency negotiated a pair of task orders with contractor Unisys Corp., which earlier in the month received the $1 billion Information Technology Managed Services contract from TSA.

Initially, ITMS will provide the Transportation Department agency with basic technology'no ' 'Star Wars' kind of stuff,' CIO Patrick R. Schambach said.

Given that TSA is essentially a brand-new agency, it must build its network backbone and office systems from scratch.

The two task orders cover the entire range of work required to build a systems architecture for the agency, said Clay Foushee, Unisys' deputy program manager for TSA.

The first order calls for the establishment of an enterprise operations center, which includes installing a data center, security operations center and help desk. Through the second order, Unisys will roll out IT equipment for TSA's headquarters and field offices.

Parallel progress

Work on the task orders will be done simultaneously, Foushee said. Eventually, Unisys will supply a full range of IT and telecommunications services that support desktop management, enterprise architecture development and cybersecurity, he added.

Initially, work on the ITMS contract was held up by the Office of Management and Budget, which had ordered all agencies slated to become part of the proposed Homeland Security Department to halt work on IT infrastructure projects. A new group, the Homeland Security IT Investment Review Group, is studying HSD-bound agencies' projects to look for consolidation possibilities.

'We will not let bureaucrats get in the way of progress,' Schambach said, adding that the review group is 'trying to streamline work and see how the eight agencies can work together on a logical IT case.'

TSA, however, can't wait until the new department plans become final to establish a basic level of IT service, so it sought approval on the initial ITMS task orders. In mid-August, the group gave TSA the green light.

Schambach said the group also has approved TSA's spending plans for the work. For this year, TSA will spend $15.1 million on the first order and $8.2 million the second. In fiscal 2003, TSA has earmarked $67.5 million for the first task order and $154 million for the second.

To keep the project moving, Schambach said, TSA officials built in some financial incentives:
  • If the agency and Unisys both meet their objectives, Unisys gets a 5 percent incentive bonus. If TSA doesn't meet its objectives, but Unisys does, no bonus is paid.

  • If TSA meets its objectives, but Unisys doesn't, then Unisys pays TSA a 2.5 percent fee.

  • If neither TSA nor Unisys meet their objectives, then Unisys pays a 5 percent fee.

To help it with the TSA project, Unisys has tapped DynCorp Systems and Solutions LLC of Reston, Va., and IBM Corp. along with 28 other companies.

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