TSA seeks vendors to detect terrorists by checking public data

The Transportation Security Administration has invited proposals from contractors to perform advanced terrorist threat analysis of the agency's job candidates and employees.

'The analysis should be able to confirm an individual's identity using public records data, and use that confirmed identity to provide insight and information as to whether the individual presents a potential terrorist threat or has possible connections to potential terrorists,' the agency said in a procurement notice posted Dec. 17.

The agency's efforts to detect potential terrorists among the travelling public by analyzing data in commercial databases have prompted public controversy. In July, TSA issued a regulation limiting its use of public databases to screen passengers via the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System II project, set to launch next year. [http://gcn.com/vol1_no1/daily-updates/22989-1.html]

TSA seeks a contractor who will confirm individuals' identities 'through the use of extensive public records data.' The agency said terrorists may be known to law enforcement or intelligence agencies and be included on various watch lists available to TSA.

The Homeland Security Department agency said potential terrorists might not be on watch lists and might 'try to achieve relative obscurity by constructing typical lifestyles on U.S. soil. In so doing, they will develop an 'electronic footprint' of publicly available information that can be acquired and used as a key input for' terrorist threat analysis.

Some terrorists who have not established a significant or useful electronic footprint may still be detected by their lack of such a footprint, TSA said.

TSA said it would provide the contractor with databases or access to databases to conduct the analysis, as well as basic identifying information on the employees or applicants.

The procurement notice says the contractor should be able to analyze the records of at least 30,000 individuals in 120 days. Contractors will be required to provide a facility approved for top-secret work and employees with top-secret security clearances.

Responses to the solicitation were due yesterday afternoon.

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