July 20, 2011
Table of Contents
- O’Toole: DHS Unlikely to Buy ASPs; Proposed House Cuts Crippling
- House Budget Means Halting R&D
- TSA Offers Additional Details on Risk-Based Screening Plans
- Welcome News
- DHS Modifies Acquisition Oversight
- Army Revving Up Plans to Begin Acquiring New Bio-Surveillance Systems
- Lithuanian Firm Introduces Voice ID Technology
- ECSI Introduces Chem-Bio Water Contamination and Reporting System
- TeraView Expands Customer Base in Europe
- Rapiscan Nabs Multi-Million Order from Mid East Customer
- Lufthansa Cargo Awards Smiths Detection Contract for Screening Equipment
- AS&E Gets $2M ZBV Order for Customs Agency
- Cubic Gets OAS Contract for Seaport Security Assessments and Training
- Army Contracts with Small Firm for Lab-on-a-Chip Research
- DHS Issues RFI to Improve US VISIT Identification Capabilities
- TSA Seeks Info for Remote Viewing of X-Ray Images; Baggage Diversion
- CBP Issues RFI for Integrated Logistics Support
- DHS Plans Small Business Outreach Session
- Army NGIC Seeks Biometric-Enabled Intel Training Services
The Secret Service has awarded Secure Mission Solutions, LLC, a $4.8 million contract for an access control and visitor management system. The system is for a geographically distributed campus with a workforce population of 10,000 people across separate security zones and multiple entry points for personnel and vehicles.
The Transportation Security Administration has awarded Thermo Fisher Scientific [TMO] a sole-source Basic Purchasing Agreement worth up to $3.6 million for hardware and software maintenance for the agency’s chemical analysis device units. The award has a five-year performance period.
Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) Director Warren Stern and representatives of the European Commission Joint Research Center (JRC) have finalized testing procedures for evaluating the performance of radiation detection equipment to provide decision makers and private sector stakeholders with reliable detection system performance information. In a series of performance tests over the next year the JRC will evaluate eight categories of equipment while DNDO will test nine categories of equipment. The U.S. and its international partners are working on the Illicit Trafficking Radiation Assessment Program+10 to ensure that testing standards are clearly defined, comprehensive and realistic.
Continuing difficulties in developing a new-generation of radiation portal monitors that would be deployed to the nation’s ports of entry to scan containers and vehicles for illicit nuclear materials means that the Department of Homeland Security probably won’t procure the systems, a senior department official says.
DHS hasn’t bothered to schedule an operational testing phase for the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal (ASP), which is the last stage before deciding whether to enter production, because "we don’t think we’re going to procure this," Tara O’Toole, under secretary for Science and Technology (S&T) at DHS, tells the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management.
The ASP program is "pushing the envelope of physics" and "hasn’t worked as well as we hoped," O’Toole says. Still, countering a Washington Post this month that cites an unreleased Government Accountability Office report that says that DHS plans to procure the new portal monitors despite a lack of sufficient testing, O’Toole said there has been a lot of testing, just not operational testing.
DHS is going to purchase a small number of the systems "to put in the field to try and understand why they don’t work and if they might be incrementally improved," O’Toole said.
David Maurer, director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues for the GAO, tells the panel that ASP has been troubled since "day one," pointing to concerns about the program’s ability to meet requirements, have reliable cost estimates, confidence in its deployment schedule and whether it represents better technology than the current monitors.
DHS in the late 1990s awarded contracts to Canberra Industries, Thermo Fisher Scientific [TMO] and Raytheon [RTN] to develop and begin producing ASP systems, which originally were expected to replace the current generation of radiation portal monitors because they frequently alarm on harmless radiological materials. ASPs were expected to reduce false alarms and help identify the radiological material hidden in shipping or trucking containers.
However, in Feb. 2010, DHS decided to abandon plans to use ASPs in a primary screening role at ports of entry in favor of continuing to develop the systems for use in secondary screening to help quickly resolve alarms by existing monitors.
The problem with the current generation of portal monitors is that "we’re getting as many as 300 hits per day in a single port on containers that look like they might have radioactive material in them," O’Toole says. To resolve these alarms today requires either unpacking the containers or using handheld devices to slowly move around the outside of the containers to find the material, "which we think is an unsatisfactory set of options," she says.
O’Toole notes that the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office within DHS is responsible for overseeing the development of the ASP technology. S&T is responsible for providing independent test and evaluation support.
The House version of the FY ’12 Appropriations Bill for DHS would cut O’Toole’s budget request by more than 60 percent to $398.2 million, an action she calls "dire." The bill actually cuts 80 percent of S&T’s research and development budget after fixed overhead costs and mandated activities are accounted for, she adds.
"If this budget goes through, or anything close to the House mark, we will stop doing R&D and most of our very good people will find other employment," O’Toole warns. These are the people in this economy who actually have job options. These are really good engineers and scientists and they want to do R&D."
O’Toole says the proposed budget would mean "basically shutting down test-beds that we have already invested money in. When you make the budget for R&D go up and down you lose all of your sunk costs because R&D projects generally play out over a number of years. So it not only costs money in the future but it wastes money already invested. It will also basically freeze DHS capabilities in place because we will not be developing new technology internally or with the commercial sector."
Offering additional details on its forthcoming plans to trial risk-based screening concepts at passenger checkpoints, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will partner with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on pilot programs at select airports as early as September.
For airline passengers who are allowed to participate in the program, it means the possibility of expedited security screening although TSA did not offer specifics on what screening procedures these people might forego.
The known-traveler pilot tests will begin with certain frequent fliers of Delta Air Lines [DAL] and American Airlines [AMR] as well as certain members of CBP’s trusted-traveler programs, Global Entry, SENTRY and NEXUS, who are U.S citizens. For the Delta fliers and select CBP trusted travelers, the participating airports are Hartsfield- Jackson Atlanta International and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County.
For the select American Airlines fliers CBP trusted travelers, the participating airports are Miami International and Dallas Fort Worth International.
TSA Administrator John Pistole has said several times this year he would initiate the intelligence-driven, risk-based passenger screening pilots this fall. Last week he discussed more details of the pilots with aviation stakeholders.
In addition to certain travelers being selected from CBP’s trusted traveler programs, the participating airlines will invite certain of their frequent fliers who may then choose to opt-in to the pilot test. The volunteers will then be vetted against watchlists. TSA did not provide specific detail on the extent to how these watchlist checks will differ from existing checks that all airline passengers are subject to under Secure Flight, which requires prospective travelers to submit their name, date of birth, and gender for the vetting procedures.
An agency spokesman tells TR2 that "If we can confirm a person’s identity and learn a little more about them through information they opt to provide, and combine that information with our other layers of security, we should be able to expedite the physical screening for many people."
TSA says that all passengers in the pilot test are subject to recurrent security checks and random screening.
In the forthcoming pilot test, for passengers who pass the background checks, when they make a flight reservation they will have information embedded in the bar code on their boarding passes to identify them as being eligible for expedited screening. When a passenger arrives at the checkpoint and has his boarding pass scanned, he may be directed to a separate lane for expedited screening.
TSA’s announcement is welcome news for legislators and aviation stakeholders.
"There are serious challenges and gaps in our security," says Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "If we continue to give extra screening to individuals who pose no threat, while others who should arouse suspicion bypass checkpoints without being questioned, our systems are clearly not working properly. I hope this effort will provide for more efficient use of the government’s limited screening resources, improve the security of travelers, and permit less intrusive and speedier screening procedures for the general public."
The Air Transport Association, the International Air Transport Association, the U.S. Travel Association, and Global Business Travel Association say that Pistole’s announcement is a positive step toward adopting risk-based passenger screening.
"Allowing TSA to focus its finite resources on that which creates the greatest threat is both good policy and good security," says Nicholas Calio, president and CEO of ATA.
ATA says that the two airlines any day will begin notifying select frequent fliers of their eligibility to participate in the trial. Volunteers will have to select one of the two airlines.
TSA says that the pilot will help it decide on how to move forward with risk-based, intelligence-driven security measures that would allow travelers to volunteer more information about them prior to flying.
ATA says that it if the pilot is successful it expects a second phase would include more of its member airlines.
IATA last month unveiled a mock-up of a risk-based, intelligence-driven Checkpoint of the Future concept that it believes one day will allow airline passengers to keep walking through a checkpoint as they are being screened for explosives and other threats. The point of the intelligence-driven checkpoint is to look for bad people, not just bad things, which is why pre-screening passengers based on information they voluntarily submit is expected to enable TSA to better understand who poses less of a security risk and therefore would need less screening.
One aviation security expert who favors risk-based screening tells TR2 that his concern with TSA’s plans at they are being put forward is that risk-based also means "enhanced screening" of passengers who are deemed to present a higher risk.
"There is no mention by TSA of simultaneously sorting elevated risk passengers and subjecting them to much more rigorous inspection that has a better chance of finding…IEDs (improvised explosive devices)," says the expert. "Until TSA defines different standards for each risk group it is very hard to finalize a suite of technologies that will work."
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is implementing a new strategy to better manage its acquisition programs, in particular putting a greater focus on the development of requirements and capabilities, according to Rafael Borras, the under secretary for Management at DHS.
Borras, who took over the chief management job in the spring of 2010, conducted a review that also took account of inputs from the department’s Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), concluding "that the procurement phase of the acquisition cycle from the receipt of requirements through award of contract worked fairly well. However, continued attention is needed on the front end requirements development as well as the back end, the program management phase of the acquisition cycle."
The modifications to how DHS oversees department-wide acquisitions include introduction of an Integrated Investment Life-Cycle Model that integrates strategy, resources, and capabilities.
"It differs from prior efforts in that it is a formal, repeatable model that will span the DHS enterprise," Borras tells a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Management. "Presently, operational units plan budgets based on a limited view of mission need. Under the integrated model, DHS will mature its ‘front-end’ strategic phase, thereby providing a broader, enterprise-wide perspective and ensuring our investments address the greatest needs of the department."
Borras says that DHS is identifying five pilot programs to test its new Integrated Investment Life-Cycle Model.
In the planning phase, DHS is creating a new Strategy Council to oversee the development of mission needs and outcomes. Also in the planning phase, new Functional Coordination Offices are being created, such as Screening, Air Domain Awareness and Law Enforcement, to provide analytical support.
In the programming phase of the acquisition cycle, DHS is creating a Capabilities and Requirements Council that will begin meeting in the fourth quarter of FY ’11 to validate requirements, assess alternatives, examine trade offs and functional needs.
During the budgeting phase DHS will continue to use a Program Review Board to handle resource allocation and budget formulation, including establishing budget priorities.
The existing Acquisition Review Board (ARB), which has authority for whether or not programs pass key milestones such as system design and low-rate production, will become the Investment Review Board, which Borras says will take a "more holistic approach" to the acquisition process.
Borras says that the DHS Science and Technology (S&T) is getting an "institutionalized" role in the acquisition cycle, particularly the Test and Evaluation Group in the ARB process, which means "elevating the role of operational testing to the highest departmental forum on acquisition." S&T is also helping in concept development and program execution, he says.
Tara O’Toole, under secretary for S&T, says that until recently her directorate had very little involvement in the acquisition process except for the test and evaluation phase "at the back end of the acquisition process." Last fall S&T created a new office of Acquisition Support to assist DHS’ components in establishing "clear and testable operational requirements at the very beginning of the acquisition process," she says.
In their role for providing independent test and evaluation, S&T "generally" doing as it should as an "honest broker," David Maurer, director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues, tells the panel.
And, says Maurer, DHS’ recent moves to bolster its acquisition processes are "good news," and "show a clear commitment by the department leadership to take these problems head on." Still, he adds, it is early and DHS "needs to turn plans into concrete action and clearly demonstrate the department is meeting requirements, testing before buying and delivering benefits within promised cost and timeframes."
Borras says that proposed cuts to DHS management contained in the House version of the FY ’12 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill would have "a significant, if not drastic, impact" on his office’s ability to oversee acquisition. In particular, he points to a $24.2 million cut to a DHS plan to hire 150 new program management office staff, which would be a "blow to our ability to improve our ability to provide good upfront cost estimating to be able to better plan and understand the life-cycle costs of these programs." Moreover, he says, the proposed management cuts would jeopardize oversight that DHS has instituted in its acquisition processes.
The Army is well into its requirements building process for a number of new programs of record for biological surveillance capabilities beginning with the Next Generation Diagnostic System, according to a service official.
Both domestically and globally there needs to be detection systems, a variety of public, point-of-care devices that have never been fielded before, Peter Emanuel, chief of the Biosciences Division at the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, says at the Knowledge Foundation’s Biodetection Technologies 2011 conference. These will need to be a family of systems, he says.
The Army and its partners are now beginning to make hard decisions about these systems through efforts like an Analysis of Alternatives, Emanuel says.
To help it better understand the capabilities that industry may have available, the Army and Defense Threat Reduction Agency are collecting data on CBRN surveillance hardware systems that can assess human exposure to chemical, biological and radiological events. The Army began its "horizon scans," which are basically market surveys, in 2007 and is planning to launch another in the next few weeks for a 2012 update, Emanuel says. [For more information on the upcoming survey and past ones visit:
Emanuel points out that that the wider interagency community needs different types of bio-surveillance systems depending on a particular user’s needs. For the purposes of the market survey the Army considers four scenarios of use: man portable and field use; mobile and field labs; diagnostic lab or point of care use; and high-sensitivity, high- throughput analytical lab.
In the end, using a particular model, the horizon scan ends up with a product guide that includes system rankings based on the various scenarios, offering capabilities, development status, unit and usage costs, and more. Emanuel says that while the rankings allow for a comparison of systems of like capabilities, a potential customer has to "dig deeper" to better understand what system suits it best.
The product guide may be used by U.S. government customers for planning purposes.
While the bio-surveillance effort is early in the acquisition phase, Emanuel says the project is moving forward aggressively and that vendors need to reach out to their potential customers to better understand their needs.
Lithuania’s Neurotechnology has introduced VeriSpeak, a new voice identification technology. VeriSpeak is available as a software development kit and as a voice identification component in the company’s latest MegaMatcher 4.1 multi-biometric, software development kit. VeriSpeak combines voiceprint identification and phrase recognition technologies, enabling the development of two-factor voice verification and authentication systems that can identify a person by biometric voice pattern and use of a pass phrase. Neurotechnology says that VeriSpeak can be used with a regular microphone, which means it could be used for applications such as online banking and payment transactions. "Today’s laptops, mobile phones and many other devices are ready for owner identification by voice without any additional hardware costs," says Dr. Algirdas Bastys, voice identification project scientist for Neurotechnology. "By combining voiceprint with phrase identification techniques, VeriSpeak can reliably verify a person’s identity using a phrase that contains only a few words."
Electronic Control Security, Inc. [EKCS] has developed and released the Water Infrastructure Sensing Equipment (WISE), a water monitoring system that immediately identifies and reports the presence of chemical and biological contaminants on-line and in real-time. In the event of a contamination incident, the system can either automatically shut down the flow of water or divert it through a filtering system. ECSI says the system has been tested by the Environmental Protection Agency. The company plans to market the system to the food, pharmaceutical, municipal and water resource markets.
United Kingdom-based TeraView says it has delivered its TPS Spectra 3000 system with stand-off explosives detection module for terahertz research and materials characterization to the Military University of Technology in Poland. The company will also supply a second fiber-fed scanning system with multiple gantry options for research into terahertz imaging and non-destructive testing.
OSI Systems [OSIS] says its Rapiscan Systems division has received a multi-million dollar contract from a Middle East customer to provide multiple units of its Eagle T- 10 trailer-mounted cargo and vehicle inspection system. The customer and exact value of the award were not disclosed. The Eagle T-1o is a towable, ruggedized and mobile system designed for rapid deployment. The system has a 1 MeV X-Ray scanner. "The T-10 is another example of how our security products play a key role in helping protect critical infrastructure, industrial complexes, and commerce centers in a region that is critical to the global economy," says Deepak Chopra, CEO of OSI Systems.
Smiths Detection has received a contract from Lufthansa Cargo to provide multiple HI-SCAN 180180-2is advanced technology X-Ray systems and IONSCAN 500DT explosives trace detection units to support air cargo screening throughout the Americas. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The deployments, which Lufthansa Cargo is doing at locations outside the U.S., have already begun. "Lufthansa Cargo has deployed Advanced Technology (AT) X-Ray and or trace detection equipment at all stations within Canada, Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador and Brazil," James LoBello, head of Security The Americas for Lufthansa Cargo, tells TR2 via an email response to questions. Currently all cargo loaded on passenger planes in the U.S. is screened for explosives. Lufthansa Cargo is part of Germany’s Lufthansa Group. The Transportation Security Administration wants all cargo loaded on passenger planes bound for the U.S. from international airports screened for explosives by the end of 2011. Mark Laustra, vice president of U.S. Major Accounts for Smiths Detection, tells TR2 that screening technology sales into the U.S. to meet air cargo inspection needs are mostly exhausted although there is some room for more business as cargo volume picks up. However, on the international front, there are a lot of countries where there is little screening technology for air cargo, he says, so an increase of sales is expected. He also notes that in the United Kingdom, freight forwarders at typically using single-view X-Ray systems for air cargo screening while homeland security officials there want explosives detection systems or AT X-Ray to be used, which means additional sales opportunities.
American Science & Engineering [ASEI] has received a $2.1 million order from a customs organization in the Asia Pacific region for Z Backscatter Vans (ZBV) and related operator training, service and warranty. AS&E says the deal is a repeat order.
Cubic Corp. [CUB] says its Cubic Applications subsidiary has received a nine-month contract from the Organization of American States to provide seaport security assessments and training for six ports in Panama. Cubic’s Maritime Security Directorate will perform the security assessments and training. The company will examine physical security, cargo and access controls, customs procedures, critical infrastructure, screening techniques for passengers and crews, passenger and cargo security, and emergency consequence management at each port or terminal. The contract covers four container ports and terminals and two cruise ship terminals. Cubic has previously conducted seaport security assessments and training for the OAS in Columbia, Mexico, and Peru and has trained port officials in Trinidad & Tobago, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines.
ADA Technologies, Inc., has received a $70,000 contract from the Army for Phase I research into a self-contained, integrated, disposable biological sampling platform that would quickly and inexpensively identify the presence of biological hazards in complex matrices, such as blood, soil, food and water. "Currently, highly trained laboratory technicians must perform multiple separate processes on large sample sizes to obtain enough material for biological hazard analysis and identification," says Steven Arzberger, ADA’s chief technology officer. "ADA’s lab-on-a-chip not only saves time, but improves efficiency because it can be carried out by virtually anyone, regardless of training level. The postage-size ship is self-contained with everything needed to enable identification of unknown biological hazards.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to improve the identification capabilities of the US-VISIT biometric and biographic data repository and identity verification system. The US VISIT program is currently addressing its next-generation architecture and capabilities to ensure that it can accommodate the expected growth of populations and new applications of multimodal biometric identity screening. US VISIT will create a "person-centric" identity resolution capability that leverages and aggregates information from a multitude of sources into an integrated view detailing an individual’s distinctiveness, status and eligibility, risk classification, and interaction with government organizations. Information is sought on the technical approach, tools and best practices in the following areas, which are listed in decreasing order of priority: identity deconfliction; advanced biometric matching; advanced biographic matching; high-performance transaction processing; business intelligence capabilities; image storage; information linking; and international biometrics. Sol. No. RFI-USVISIT. Respond by July 29. Contact: Keturah Tate, contract specialist, 202-447-5796, email@example.com.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued a Request for Information for the remote viewing images obtained by Advanced Technology X-Ray systems used at passenger checkpoints as well as the automatic diversion of carry-on items either back to passengers or on to secondary screening based on alarm status. Currently Transportation Security Officers who operate an X-Ray system view images of carry-on items and resolve the alarms. Under the concept being envisioned, remote screeners would have the ability to provide a clear or suspect determination on the image displayed. TSA is conducting market research to determine if products currently exist to allow for the remote viewing, interpretation and determination of AT images, thereby improving efficiencies in checkpoint operations and or space. Sol. No. HSTS04-11-I-CT4536. Respond by Aug. 15. Contact: Holly Bolger, contracting officer, 571-227-3036, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Information Technology, Enforcement Technology Program, has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for electronic and precision equipment repair and maintenance. CBP is interested in hearing from small businesses for various life-cycle support functions including inspection, acceptance and tracking of assets, acquisition of spare parts, logistic support analysis, level repair analysis and more. Sol. No. 20060840B. Respond by July 28. Contact: Monica Watts, contracting officer, 202-344-2938, email@example.com.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, will host a vendor outreach session in Washington, D.C., on July 21, giving attendees a series of pre-arranged 15-minute appointments with small business specialists from various components of the DHS procurement offices. The sessions provide the small business community an opportunity to discuss their capabilities and learn of potential procurement opportunities. Prime contractor small business liaisons from several large businesses that have contracts with DHS will also be in attendance. For a list of the sessions see: http://www.dhs.gov/xopnbiz/smallbusiness/gc_1178562022535.shtm. Sol. No. DHSOSDBU-July-VOS. Contact: Della Ilene Waggoner, small business advocate, 202-447-5282, Ilene.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Army National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) seeks information related to providing comprehensive biometric-enabled intelligence training to support the Defense Department and the intelligence community with trained biometric intelligence analysts. The contractor must provide biometric-enabled intelligence (BEI) trainers, provide BEI training support, provide briefing support, write BEI training materials and doctrine, provide BEI exercise training support, provide training support for new biometrics intelligence program personnel, and produce BEI and or identity intelligence products as directed. The planned procurement is for small businesses. Sol. No. W911W511R0015. Respond by Sept. 14. Contact: Jessica Thomas, 434-980-7639, Jessica.email@example.com.
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