More products, services win Safety Act protections

Four more products and services have won liability protections from the Homeland Security Department through the Support for Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act (Safety Act) in recent weeks, bringing the total number of awards to 23.

The total is comprised of 16 certifications representing the highest level of liability protection, and seven designations with slightly less protection.

The Safety Act was included in the original legislation that created DHS in October 2002. The act's goal is to encourage contractors to create new anti-terrorism equipment and services by reducing the risk of liability if the technologies fail while preventing or responding to a terrorist attack.

On July 13, DHS granted Safety Act certification as an approved product to the Washington Group International Inc.'s Container Inspection Services, which provide threat and vulnerability assessment and risk mitigation services for ports. It also designs cargo container and inspection facilities at port locations.

On the same date, the department awarded Safety Act designation to M/A-Com Inc. of Lowell, Mass., a unit of Tyco Electronics Inc., for its NetworkFirst interoperability radio network, which connects disparate land and mobile radio systems to allow people to speak to one another. It is the first and only land-mobile radio technology to be officially designated under the Safety Act. The designation is retroactive to July 4, 2002, the company said.

"As we deploy mission-critical radio communications systems around the country that will be used by first responders to defend our nation's citizens in the event of a terrorist attack, the legal protections afforded under the Safety Act are a tremendous potential benefit to our customers and suppliers," JoAnne Dalton, director of marketing for wireless systems at M/A-Com, said in a press release.

In addition, in June URS Corp. won certification for its Threat and Vulnerability Assessment Services to protect critical infrastructures such as bridges, dams, tunnels and transit systems from acts of terrorism. The company said the assessment services can recommend how to identify potential areas for terrorist threats and the appropriate solutions to lessen or mitigate those threats.

Verified Identity Pass Inc.'s Verified ID program, which is a voluntary and biometrically secured identification system, also received a Safety Act designation in June.

New York-based Verified Identity Pass and Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin Corp. are operating a Registered Traveler pilot program at the Orlando International Airport in partnership with DHS and the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. The system uses biometric smart cards with chips containing information on fingerprints and iris patterns.

Of more than 70 initial applications under the Safety Act, four certifications and designations were granted in 2004 and 19 have been granted in 2005.

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff recently encouraged more companies to apply for the Safety Act awards.

"Candidly, we have not done enough to take advantage of this powerful tool to spur new technologies and new systems," Chertoff told the Commonwealth Club in Santa Clara, Calif. July 28. "We are streamlining the application process and working to deploy incentives under the Safety Act more broadly, with the hope that these changes will motivate the private sector to take full advantage of this tool."

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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