Funding shortfall stops TSA IT rollout

The Transportation Security Administration has halted work on the second phase of its IT infrastructure because of a funding shortfall.

TSA's acting deputy CIO Joe Peters yesterday said 400 out of 600 airports and other locations have not received the 'White Package,' which includes broadband connections, LANs, offsite application hosting and high-tech phone systems.

'We have a $1.44 billion budget, and the IT department only sees a portion of that,' Peters said at Input's Marketview 2004 conference in Falls Church, Va. 'Most of the budget goes towards explosive detection systems. There is not a lot of money for IT infrastructure expansion.'

Peters estimated that TSA needs about $200 million more to finish deploying the second phase of its IT infrastructure.

Some locations are using dial-up modems to connect to the Internet and have only basic phone systems, he said.

TSA finished the first phase'called the Red package'in 2002, and started the second phase in May 2003. The agency ran out of money in February 2004, Peters said. The third phase'known as the Blue Package'would include installation of advanced technologies such as electronic surveillance and biometric systems.

'We are stuck in a predicament,' Peters said. 'We are a new agency without legacy IT infrastructure to operate on, and funding shortfalls have prevented us from expanding [TSA's initial] capability.'

Peters said TSA is working with Homeland Security CIO Steve Cooper to identify and prioritize infrastructure requirements.

'The entire department is trying to baseline all our programs and until that is done, we can't prioritize our needs,' Peters said. 'Until the funding situation changes, our IT expansion is in a holding pattern.'

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