Vendors team up for airport security offering

With the Transportation Department's security office in a hunt for technology, four vendors have teamed to offer a suite of applications to help secure the nation's airports.

EDS, Oracle Corp., PwC Consulting and Sun Microsystems Inc. together developed biometric and risk-assessment solutions for managing airport employees and travelers.

"We're getting ahead of what we think the requirements are going to be in this field so we can provide some solutions," said Grady Means, managing partner of PwC Consulting's federal government practice.

The solutions include Secure Employee, which uses existing information — fingerprints required for background checks of airport workers — to manage access areas and computer systems. Known Traveler, a voluntary passenger registration program aimed at easing movement through checkpoint areas, creates "smart" travel identification cards with encrypted data.

The suite builds on the EDS-developed biometric security system in place at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Israel.

"This collaboration allows us to offer the extensive experience of EDS, PwC Consulting, Sun and Oracle to the federal government, and to assist them in providing heightened security for their passengers and employees," said Al Edmonds, EDS' president of government information solutions.

PwC Consulting, for instance, has worked with 24 airlines. "It's not unusual for us to really try to anticipate what the government needs are," Means said. "We've seen this on a number of recent engagements."

The company took a similar approach to eArmyU (www.earmyu.com), the Army's online distance-learning program, which led to a five-year, $453 million contract.

Meanwhile, 15 pilot sites have begun testing technologies such as biometrics. Boston's Logan International Airport, for instance, is evaluating a facial-recognition program that connects security checkpoints and federal counterterrorism databases.

"We're looking all across the spectrum," said John Magaw, DOT's undersecretary for security.

DOT officials are working with other agencies, including the Defense Department, the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, to share information, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said.

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Security agency seeks applicants online

The Transportation Security Administration awarded NCS Pearson Inc. a $103.4 million contract earlier this month to provide a Web-based system for the recruitment and placement of airport personnel.

NCS Pearson has "experience with this sort of thing," said David Hakensen, a spokesman for the company, which assists clients with the recruitment and hiring process. It also has worked on large-scale data management projects; for example, it was one of three contractors on the 2000 census, Hakensen said.

The agency plans to hire more than 30,000 federal security workers — including screeners and law enforcement officers — to meet the mandates of the Aviation Transportation Security Act signed by President Bush in November 2001.

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