Unisys wins approval for $1 billion TSA project

'Happy man': TSA'S Pat Schambach announced Unisys is the winner of the $1 billion to build the agency's IT infrastructure. (Photos by Olivier Douliery.)

The Office of Management and Budget has approved the $1 billion Transportation Security Administration contract award to Unisys Corp. for the company to build and maintain TSA's IT infrastructure.

The agency named Unisys Aug. 2 as its choice for the TSA Information Technology Managed Services contract, but had to await an OMB review before finalizing the award.

Approval from OMB came about 7:15 p.m. Aug. 13, TSA Chief Information Officer Patrick Schambach said at a Federal Sources Executive Breakfast Aug. 14. "I'm a happy man this morning," he said.

With the approval, Unisys can begin work on two task orders under the seven-year contract. The first will be for agency's end-user computer, network, data center and help-desk services. The second is to roll out systems and services.

The OMB review is required under an administration freeze on major IT projects now being planned by agencies that will be consolidated into the proposed Department of Homeland Security. The Homeland Security IT Investment Review Group, which includes OMB officials and the CIOs from the affected agencies, is reviewing planned IT projects with an eye toward coordinating IT spending and eliminating redundancies among the agencies that would be consolidated.

The agencies include TSA, Customs Service, Immigration and Naturalization Services, Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Unisys competed against Electronic Data Systems Corp., Plano, Texas, for the contract, Schambach said. The contract could be a model for future government projects, he said.

The release of requirements to the award of the contract took just three and a half months, Schambach said. "The contract is totally performance-based," he said.

The contract has incentive and disincentive clauses for Unisys and its team, which includes IBM Corp., DynCorp and about 28 other companies.

If the agency and Unisys meet their objectives, Unisys gets a 5 percent incentive bonus. If TSA doesn't meet its objectives but Unisys does, no bonus is paid. If TSA meets its objectives but Unisys doesn't, Unisys pays a 2.5 percent fee. If neither TSA nor Unisys meet their objectives, Unisys pays a 5 percent fee.

TSA also has structured the contract as a utility model, where Unisys owns, builds and maintains the infrastructure and is responsible for the upfront capital expenditures, Schambach said. TSA will place orders for services with Unisys.

The contract also is standards-based. The agency wants mainstream technology, not "Star Wars" technology, he said. There also are clauses to ensure the agency is getting competitive prices throughout the life of the contract, he said.

For companies that want to showcase new technologies or solutions to TSA, Schambach said he will refer them to Unisys, which will evaluate them and then bring them to the agency.

TSA also is talking with several companies about playing an independent validation and verification role to make sure the performance measures and other goals of the contract are being met, Schambach said.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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