• A traveler inserts her driver’s license into a new credential authentication technology unit at BWI Airport. In response to COVID-19, the TSA has purchased and continues to contract for innovative technologies that protect its personnel and data as well as travelers. Credit: Photo courtesy of TSA
     A traveler inserts her driver’s license into a new credential authentication technology unit at BWI Airport. In response to COVID-19, the TSA has purchased and continues to contract for innovative technologies that protect its personnel and data as well as travelers. Credit: Photo courtesy of TSA

Contract Prospects Come Knocking

November 25, 2020
By Maryann Lawlor
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The Transportation Security Administration boasts several high-value awards on the horizon.


When COVID-19 started ravaging the U.S. travel industry economically, the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA's) contracting and procurement division had to put gear into place to prevent the spread of the virus in environments that are literally the hub for millions of customers every day. Bill Weinberg, the assistant administrator for contracting and procurement, who began at the agency this month, understands the organization must continue to move quickly to ensure both the security and the safety of both its passengers and the agency’s workforce.

Although still in the midst of the pandemic, the TSA has quelled some of the initial fears of both ground and air travel by putting new processes, supplies, personnel and barriers into place. Additional personnel ensure people standing in airport security lines move quickly while staying physically distanced. Acrylic barriers protect transportation security officers (TSOs) and travelers. Contactless identification verification capabilities allow passengers to confirm their documentation via machine rather than passing paperwork back and forth with TSOs.

These kinds of changes will continue with the help of technology, and the TSA has released several requests for information and for procurement and will continue to do so in the near future. During the TSA Industry Day, which AFCEA assisted in delivering and is available on demand online, several department heads spoke about upcoming business opportunities and took questions from the audience.

Melissa French, branch chief for the workforce and enterprise operation acquisition division, TSA, explained that her group supports a range of services, including personnel and training. “You want to keep an eye out for the Specialized Security Training, or SST, recompete 4.0,” French revealed. The training and development office manages SST and provides TSA with various training methodologies to support the administration’s TSOs, inspectors and other security workforce employees.

The SST contract is for initial and recurring training that sustains the transportation system protection. “The services we buy ensure timely response to security training needs that are related to emerging technologies as well as new threats. The SST program is an umbrella program that develops and maintains curricula and develops and maintains training tools and materials,” French explained.

Robyn Towles is the director for credentialing, screening and intelligence. In addition to the Transportation Security Operations Center, which operates 24/7, Towles’ division handles security administrative services for physical and personnel security, access control, background checks and fingerprinting.

In addition to recompetes for established contracts, Towles said her division may be interested in document management services that would assist in many of its programs. Towles’ team examined potential technologies while endeavoring to dig deeper into innovative solutions rather than previous solutions. She advised companies to expect more information about this requirement around the second quarter of the fiscal year 2021 and anticipates an award in the fourth quarter.

In addition to this information technology award, the TSA’s Information Technology division has several large technology-related contracts scheduled to be granted in fiscal year 2021. Russell Roberts, TSA chief information officer and assistant administrator for the Office of Information Technology, said the contracts include network support for operation and maintenance.

Roberts related that work in the cybersecurity category also is scheduled for assignment in fiscal year 2021 and includes penetration testing, which falls in the area of cyber defense.

In addition, two new large contracts will be awarded in software licenses, including Microsoft and Oracle software support licenses, which are coming up for maintenance renewal. “We typically have a strong strategy to pursue small business set-asides for those activities or to utilize any type of DHS strategy to determine initiatives for those,” Roberts said.

“Relative to stability of the network in fiscal year 21, we are planning to transition to the GSA’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract for both our data and voice network services throughout our TSA headquarters in all of our locations nationwide. There’s a large transition effort involved there as far as procurement strategies,” he related. “We are strong supporters of the DHS strategic-sourcing initiatives. We primarily utilize those strategic sourcing initiatives unless they do not have a capability to support us.”

For additional insights into upcoming TSA contract awards, view the TSA Industry Day videos online. In addition, the contract opportunities information that was housed on the Acquisition Planning Forecast System website has been transferred to the System for Award Management website.

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