Unisys gets airport security contract

The Transportation Security Administration has awarded an $8 million contract to Unisys Corp. to test technologies to improve airport security.

Under the Airport Access Control Pilot Program, Unisys will assess biometrics, surveillance systems and other security measures for TSA's Office of the Chief Technology Officer. The 20-month, cost-plus-fixed-fee deal could be worth up to $17 million, the company said in a statement.

Unisys will test fingerprinting, facial recognition and iris scanning to control physical access to airport facilities as well as logical access to information systems. Testing will take place at 20 airports across the country, but the specific locations have not been determined yet, Unisys president Greg Baroni said.

Unisys also is the prime contractor for TSA's IT Managed Services contract, under which it is setting up a technology infrastructure at 429 airports. The systems being tested under AACPP will be integrated with ITMS.

The airport infrastructure is rolling out in three phases:

Red package: Basic technology such as notebook PCs, cell phones, pagers, radios, dial-up virtual private network access to e-mail and Web services

White package: LAN and WAN connectivity

Blue package: Electronic surveillance and biometric systems being tested under AACPP.

Baroni said ITMS deployment is about midway through the white phase. The contractor has accelerated deployment in response to recent security threats such as carrying box cutters and other dangerous items onto airplanes.

(Posted Nov. 20 and updated Nov. 21)

Matt McLaughlin writes for Government Computer News magazine.

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