More companies receive liability protection under Safety Act

Covenant Aviation Security of Bolingbrook, Ill., today announced it has received Safety Act designation from the Homeland Security Department for its airport passenger and baggage screening services.

Covenant, which provides 1,200 screeners and other personnel at San Francisco International and Tupelo Regional airports, is the first baggage-screening company to receive full Safety Act certification. FirstLine Transportation Security Inc. received "designation" status Feb. 25 for baggage screening, representing a lower level of liability protection.

Covenant is one of four homeland security businesses that have received full liability protection under the Safety Act within the last month, ,making 12 approvals to date by DHS officials.

"They have been busy," said Jacob Pankowski, a partner in Nixon, Peabody's Washington office. "I certainly hope they will keep up this pace, and hopefully increase it."

The first three Safety Act certifications were granted in June 2004 from more than 70 applications submitted, and eight more technologies have been granted certification since February 2005. Two technologies have been granted designation status, which offers less protection.

Congress approved the Support for Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act as part of the legislation creating the Homeland Security Department in October 2002. The Safety Act, as it's known, protects manufacturers of anti-terrorism equipment from the huge financial liability that could result if their items are used to prevent, or respond to, an act of terrorism. The idea was to stimulate contractors to provide new equipment, services and software and devices by mitigating the threat of liability if their technologies or products failed because of a terrorist attack.

Manufacturers are urging the department to ease what they consider very arduous requirements in the application process and to strengthen the protections for trade secrets they disclose in their applications.

Other recent full certifications include:

*IBM Corp. of Armonk, N.Y.'s First Responder Interoperability Solution, a Web-based hub to allow messaging between computer systems, April 18

*Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md.'s Marine Traffic Management System, providing situational awareness with an integrated geographic display, April 1

*Wackenhut Corp. of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.'s physical security services, March 31.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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