President Donald Trump in late December signed an omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2021 that includes $100 million for the Transportation Security Administration to divvy up between purchases of next-generation checkpoint baggage scanners and the continued rollout of advanced automated credential authentication devices.

An explanatory statement accompanying the FY ’21 spending bill doesn’t break out how much funding is allocated for the checkpoint computed tomography (CT) baggage scanners and how much is for the Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units.

“TSA shall consider small and rural airports, in addition to larger airports, when determining locations for deployment of CT and CAT systems,” the statement says.

The combined appropriation for the checkpoint CT and CAT systems is substantially larger than the amount requested, which was $28.9 million and $2.3 million respectively.

TSA still has $70.1 million in FY ’20 funds to spend on checkpoint CT systems to go on top of whatever the appropriated amount is in FY ’21, which is likely above $50 million.

In 2019, the agency awarded Smiths Detection about $97 million for the first 300 checkpoint CT systems, which will finish being installed early in 2021. This summer, TSA is expected to award a contract or contracts for the next tranche of checkpoint CT systems, which will have improved detection capabilities over the originally deployed systems and feature elements of automated screening lanes that make it easier for travelers to divest their carry-on items, and provide enhanced security benefits for security officers.

Analogic, Integrated Defense and Security Solutions, Leidos [LDOS] and Smiths Detection are expected to compete for the next set of CT awards. Eventually, TSA is expected to acquire between 2,200 and 2,400 of the checkpoint CT systems.

House appropriators recommended $70 million for checkpoint CT in their version of the homeland security bill last year and Senate appropriators countered with $140 million.

The CT systems provide Transportation Security Officers with a three-dimensional view of a bag’s contents, improved on-screen resolution, and the ability to virtually rotate a bag to look at areas of concern from multiple angles. The improved resolution means there is less need for manual bag searches.

Travelers using a checkpoint lane with the CT systems are allowed to leave their electronic devices and liquids inside their bags, making the checkpoint experience more efficient and hassle free.

IDEMIA supplies the CAT systems, which automatically authenticate a traveler’s government-issued credentials such as a driver’s license. The CAT devices are also connected to TSA’s Secure Flight database and retrieve basic information about each traveler to ensure he or she isn’t on a watchlist and confirm the individual is authorized to fly that day.

Both the House and Senate appropriators in their respective markups of the FY ’21 Homeland Security bill last year provided substantially more funding for CAT than requested. The House bill recommended $55 million to finish the deployment of CAT systems and acquire standoff detection technology.

Senate appropriators in their version of the bill recommended $42.3 million to purchase and deploy CAT devices to rural and small airports and for infrastructure upgrades at all airports for the systems.

TSA nearly a year ago in its FY ’21 spending request for CAT system said the $2.3 million request would accelerate deployment of the devices and result in the purchase of 493 systems to achieve full operating capability.

A TSA spokesman told HSR last month that as of Dec. 14, the agency had deployed 925 units to 118 airports. The budget request said that 1,027 units were expected to be deployed by the end of September.