Shutdown delays TSA data-security efforts

The standoff over a controversial border wall is holding up activity on a planned overhaul of key transportation security systems.

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The Transportation Security Administration is looking to consolidate contracts and streamline technology in the system used to protect key elements of the air travel infrastructure from terrorist infiltration. But the ongoing shutdown is preventing TSA from moving ahead with a planned $230 million procurement.

TSA's Technology Procurement Division was scheduled to host a Jan. 14 industry day with vendors to explain its requirements in a major contract consolidation. The effort aims to combine program management and support on three key credentialing systems that together include data on about 21 million individuals who either work in the transportation sector or are enrolled in TSA's Precheck program that allows for fast access through airport security.

The industry day has been postponed as a result of the partial government shutdown. A contracting notice posted on FedBizOpps Jan. 7 announced that a new date will be announced after the partial shutdown is over.

The systems in question are operating under existing separate contracts, with varying expiration dates, with the most recent needing to be updated or renewed this September. TSA is looking to find efficiencies in the different credentialing tools and technologies used across the three different systems.

The systems check and recheck enrolled individuals against government watchlists. Key customers of the TSA systems include security analysts, airport badging personnel, TSA investigators and others.

Together, the Technology Infrastructure Modernization (TIM), the Transportation Vetting System (TVS) and the Screening Gateway (SG) cover data, credentialing and security for aviation and other transportation workers, flight crews, flight students, cargo screeners and others. According to a business case document about the TIM program, the system is designed to "reduce the probability of a successful terrorist attack on the transportation system by applying threat assessment methodologies intended to identify known or suspected terrorist threats working in or seeking access to the Nation's transportation system."

The modernization and consolidation of contracts under the TIM program has the goal of moving operations to DHS Data Center Cloud Services and to enable what's being called a "person-centric" view of the system, so that an individual enrollment in one database will be able to be used across multiple systems when needed. Additionally, the updated system will improve information sharing across agencies and "increase the efficacy of threat assessments."

More than 55,000 of TSA's 60,000 workers are considered exempted or excepted from the shutdown, and are working without pay. Many of these are frontline TSA personnel working security gates at airports. However, non-essential personnel, including some acquisition staffers, are furloughed.

NEXT STORY: Shutdown hits CISA's transition

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