Looking to fill TSA's HR gap

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Caught in a bind over the Transportation Security Administration's human resources management system, White House officials are considering having the agency award an interim HR contract before the new Homeland Security Department officially launches Jan. 24, 2003.

TSA awarded a contract for HR services to NCS Pearson Inc. in March. That contract expires this month, and the agency had planned to award a $20 million contract to replace it. But Homeland Security Department officials have not settled on a departmentwide system and have said they will not allow the agencies going to the department to have stovepiped systems.

All of this creates a potential gap in services for TSA and a problem for officials at the Office of Homeland Security and the Office of Management and Budget, who jointly oversee the new department's investment decisions, according to Steve Cooper, chief information officer at the Office for Homeland Security.

"We're trying to figure out, quite honestly, what's the best thing to do given the timeframes don't match," he said in a Dec. 13 interview.

For now, there are a couple of options, including extending the current contract to bridge the gap until Jan. 24 or allowing TSA to award an abbreviated contract -- perhaps for one year -- that will serve as an interim solution, Cooper said.

Whatever happens, officials will then take the time to find the optimal solution for TSA and the entire department, he said.

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