Stampede of suitors chase Unisys TSA project

Since Unisys Corp. announced Aug. 19 that it won the $1 billion Information Technology Management Services contract to create the IT infrastructure for the Transportation Security Administration, the company has been inundated with proposals from vendors interested in slicing off their own piece of the pie.

Scores of companies, ranging from small disadvantaged businesses to billion-dollar firms, have been clamoring for attention, according to Tom Conaway, managing principal, defense, with Unisys Global Public Sector.

"We're getting calls from people with all sorts of different qualifications," he said.

Conaway said the smaller companies offer different types of solutions than the large systems integrators.

"Small business is turnkey stuff, such as an airport security checkpoint solution that includes the magnetometer gate and various biometric technologies" that can be reconfigured to meet a need, he said.

By contrast, "I wouldn't say I'm seeing a lot of turnkey solutions from larger businesses. ... Those relationships are more services oriented," he said.

Many of the companies courting Unisys' interest are defense contractors who are trying to leverage their expertise into the emerging homeland security marketplace. Until Congress approves the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, TSA really presents the only completely new marketplace for IT work.

So far, Unisys has signed up 35 alliance and technology partners, in-cluding seven who have been awarded subcontracts to date: ARINC Inc., Client Network Services Inc., Communications Cabling & Technology Inc., IBM Corp., Technica Corp., TekSystems Inc. and Veridian Information Solutions Inc.

Other companies have received subcontracting agreements but have not yet signed them. DynCorp, for instance, is very close to signing, Conaway said.

Another member of the Unisys team is systems integrator Anteon International Corp. of Fairfax, Va. "We have a good relationship with [Unisys]," said Joseph Kampf, Anteon's president and chief executive officer. "We feel we'll get a good amount of work with them."

Anteon is a prime example of a strong IT and defense company looking to expand into homeland security. According to Kampf, 78 percent of the company's business derives from the Defense Department and the intelligence community.

Unisys is placing a lot of emphasis on finding commercial solutions for as many program elements as possible, in areas such as crisis management and alert notification systems. Using off-the-shelf technologies could make Unisys' life easier.

"Eventually, we're going to set up a reverse auction site to allow people to bid," Conaway said. Approved vendor partners would be able to respond via the Web site to new contract requirements.

That online capability is expected by Thanksgiving, Conaway said. *

Staff writer Patience Wait can be reached at pwait@postnewsweektech.com.

Doing Business With | Transportation Security Administration | By Evamarie Socha

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