Unisys: $1B not enough for TSA work

The prime contractor for the Transportation Security Administration’s Information Technology Managed Services contract says it has already consumed two-thirds of a $1 billion contract in less than half of the task order's potential duration.

Unisys began developing the TSA's information technology infrastructure in August 2002. The company received a task order with three base years and two optional two-year add-ons.

"We are working with TSA as to what we do at the end of the base period as we speak," said Mike Hatcher, a Unisys partner and the company's TSA program executive. "We’ll definitely have to have more than the base period."

Hatcher added, in an e-mail today, that if TSA exercises the two-year options, the contract's original ceiling of $1 billion would have to be increased.

TSA has not made any decision on these issues, said Deirdre O’Sullivan, agency spokeswoman.

Unisys has deployed high-speed Internet connectivity to 230 of TSA’s 550 operating locations, which include 450 commercial airports and about 100 off-site federal security director locations. More than 300 airports remain on dial-up Internet connections, Hatcher said.

The Bush administration is seeking $174 million in the fiscal 2006 budget to complete the installation of high-speed operational connectivity to passenger and baggage screening checkpoints. Some of the largest airports lack telephone or computer interconnectivity between administrative spaces, screening areas and baggage areas.

Although high-speed data connections "probably would not have an impact on wait times," O'Sullivan said in February, they would offer faster online training to screeners, a process that still uses disks in many cases. Internet connections would also reduce costs and keep training consistent, he said.

While the bulk of Unisys’ 900-member team concentrates on high-speed connectivity, about a third of the work goes to software applications development, integration and testing, and enterprise architecture.

The company also has implemented voice-over-IP at TSA headquarters and the command center. Unisys is currently installing the technology at the transportation agency's field locations.

Technology installed by Unisys helped TSA personnel intercept about seven million prohibited items and more than 600 firearms last year, Hatcher said.

"We’re a part of the landscape of TSA,” Hatcher said. "If you kind of pass through airport checkpoints today and [go] back, to Sept. 10, 2001, I think that most folks would agree that the thoroughness and level of professionalism today has improved tremendously."

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