Unisys makes a major move with TSA win

Unisys Corp. took a big step in its quest to be a major player in the government information technology market when it was selected for the $1 billion Transportation Security Administration's IT Managed Services contract.

But the Blue Bell, Pa., company couldn't pop the champagne immediately. At press time, the contract hadn't been officially awarded because the project was being reviewed by the new Homeland Security IT Investment Review Group. Approval from the review group was expected as early as Aug. 9, a TSA spokesman said.

The review is required under an Office of Management and Budget memo temporarily freezing new IT spending by the agencies that will be consolidated under the proposed Department of Homeland Security.

Tom Conaway, Unisys' managing principal for defense, said people should "not get the cart before the horse. We've been notified we've been selected, but we don't have a contract yet."

The notice of award means that of the proposals TSA received, it would choose Unisys. But the contract has not been awarded because the money is not there yet.

For Transportation Department officials, the award is a major milestone. "The Transportation Security Administration continues to make progress toward meeting the mandates of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act," said Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta. The act was passed in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and created TSA.

On the contract, Unisys is leading a team with three tiers of subcontractors. IBM Corp. of Armonk, N.Y., and DynCorp of Reston, Va., are major partners; another 17 companies are designated as alliance partners, with six other firms as technology partners. Conaway said the list of subcontractors can be expanded as needed.

The Unisys team will provide TSA with IT and telecommunications services, including hardware and software services, help desk, network security and business process re-engineering support.

"This selection ... is great news for Unisys, a company that has been very anxious to get back full force into the federal market," said Ray Bjorklund, vice president of consulting with Federal Sources Inc., a McLean, Va., market research firm.

"It's a very strategic selection for them, because here is the agency that's probably going to be the foundation for the new Department of Homeland Security, and getting the IT infrastructure right is going to be important for TSA," Bjorklund said.

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