TSA contract heats up

By Alice Lipowicz

In the hunt
Contractors eligible for the Transportation Security Administration infrastructure contract are all part of Category 2 of the Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions procurement vehicle.

Computer Sciences Corp.
EDS Corp.
General Dynamics Corp.
Lockheed Martin Corp.
Northrop Grumman Corp.
Science Applications International Corp.
Unisys Corp. (incumbent)

3H Technology LLC
Aerient LLC
Analytical Services and Materials Inc.
Energy Enterprise Solutions LLC
SCI Consulting Inc.
Visionary Integration Professionals LLC

Abacus Technology Corp.
Arrowhead Global Solutions
CACI Technology Insights Inc.
Catapult Technology Limited
The Centech Group Inc.
Pragmatics Inc.
QSS Group Inc. (now part of Perot Systems)
STG Inc.
TWD and Associates Inc.

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Civilian Agencies
Homeland Security
Industry news
Small Business

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Bidders and prospective subcontractors are lining up to be part of the Transportation Security Administration’s massive $2 billion Information Technology Infrastructure Program (ITIP). The procurement is considered one of the largest and highest-profile IT contracts this year for the Homeland Security Department.

The TSA IT infrastructure contract is a follow-on to the $1 billion IT Managed Services contract, which aims to install and modernize IT networks and infrastructure. Unisys Corp. held the contract from 2002 to 2006. The company then won a bridge contract to extend the work through 2008.

Unisys has submitted a bid for the new contract, said spokesman Brad Bass. “This has been a very successful contract for Unisys, and we would like to continue the relationship,” he said.

Industry experts are closely watching the opportunity because it provides basic IT infrastructure for TSA, primarily in creating and linking computer networks between TSA and airports, presumably laying the groundwork for further agency IT work down the road.

“The TSA ITIP contract is in a sweet spot of IT architecture and networks,” said Jeremy Potter, senior analyst at Input Inc., a market research firm. “It is not mission-focused, in which you might have timing and priority issues. This is very basic IT ... modernizing the IT backbone.”

Even with those aspects in its favor, the project could be at risk. DHS infrastructure projects were placed on the Office of Management and Budget’s High Risk IT Project list in April.

Nonetheless, TSA’s IT infrastructure project is moving forward. After months of anticipation, TSA issued the request for proposals April 17, and bids were due May 14, said Ann Davis, a TSA spokeswoman. The value is estimated at $2 billion, she said.

Eligible companies are Category 2 operations and maintenance contractors on the department’s Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions procurement vehicle, Davis said. Those eligible include seven large contractors, counting Unisys, and 16 small businesses. She declined to provide information on which companies have submitted bids.

Among the seven large Category 2 companies, Lockheed Martin Corp. officials have confirmed that they have submitted a bid. Lockheed Martin executives recently created a Web site, LM4TSA.com, dedicated to the ITIP contract.

Northrop Grumman IT spokeswoman Juli Ballesteros confirmed the company is “looking at the opportunity with interest.” General Dynamics declined to comment, and several other companies did not respond to requests for comment.

“We have gotten quite a lot of interest in this from vendors,” Potter said. “The size of the contract suggests there will be teaming relationships.”

Potter said he believes the majority of the Category 2 large companies probably will bid, and he thinks Unisys stands a good chance.

“With their previous win and their relationships, Unisys is just as well-positioned as anyone,” Potter said.

Industry sources expect a prequalification the week of May 26 and a request for a second round of proposals in June, with a final award to be made in August.

The program has been challenging. Unisys was hired to connect TSA IT networks at hundreds of airports. In February 2006, DHS’ inspector general recommended rebidding the Unisys contract. According to the IG’s report, although TSA initially expected the work to extend through 2009, Unisys had spent the bulk of the funding, $834 million, by the end of fiscal 2005. “TSA spent most of the contract ceiling without receiving many of the contract deliverables critical to airport security and communications,” the IG said.

However, TSA and Unisys defended the original contract and performance. In 2005, TSA awarded Unisys the bridge contract to continue working.

“Unisys is proud of the work and accomplishments we have performed for TSA, and TSA has given us consistently high marks for performance. TSA has said publicly that the issues raised in the inspector general’s report had been addressed and that they consider the matter closed,” said Unisys in a March 2007 statement.

Nonetheless, the IG has continued to raise concerns. As of May 2007, TSA had been 70 percent successful in creating high-speed connectivity to passenger-screening areas in airports and 57 percent successful in implementing high-speed connectivity to baggagescreening locations, according to an IG report issued in November 2007.

In addition, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (DMiss.) held a hearing in September 2007 to investigate allegations that Unisys failed to protect the department’s networks against Chinese hackers and attempted to hide evidence related to those attacks. The allegations also blame DHS officials for failing to act on information provided. At the hearing, Unisys said it performed according to protocol and acted in good faith.

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