The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) this week issued the solicitation for a new document checking system that will include biometric technology to identify the credential holder and authenticate the travel document at airport checkpoints nationwide.
The Request for Proposals (RFP), released on Aug. 28, says credential authentication technology-2 (CAT2) contract will be worth $128 million and will either be a single or multiple-award indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract. The contractor for the current CAT system is IDEMIA.
The CAT2 system will feature a camera to take a photo of a traveler at a checkpoint to ensure the person presenting the credential is the same person whose photo is on the document. Vendors will have the option of using a Department of Homeland Security facial matching technology algorithm as government furnished equipment or use their own solution, the RFP says.
Like the original CAT system, the next-generation devices will also authenticate a wide variety of identity documents such as driver’s licenses and passports, confirm a passenger’s flight reservation and vetting status from the TSA’s Secure Flight database to ensure the person is authorized to enter the secure area of an airport, and display results for the Travel Document Checker.
The new CAT system is one of Acting TSA Administrator David Pekoske’s top acquisition priorities, along with checkpoint computed tomography (CT)-based scanners to screen carry-on bags at airport checkpoints. But the agency’s acquisition budget of late has been lackluster, putting these new programs on extended installation timelines.
Pekoske has said that at current budget levels, it will take until about 2036 to complete the deployments of checkpoint CT systems and another 10 years to finish buying and installing the CAT2 devices. TSA’s capital account is a key focus area going forward, Pekoske told a Senate panel on July 21.
Initially, the CAT-2 system will be used for one-to-one facial matching, that is matching the photo of a traveler’s face against the photo on their travel document. TSA expects future enhancements to include the ability to do facial matching against a database of photos that include other travelers’ photos.
Additional enhancements that TSA anticipates include the CAT2 reading and authenticating digital identities such as mobile driver’s licenses, reading airline boarding passes, and allowing passengers to insert their own IDs into the devices.
TSA has already piloted versions of CAT devices with cameras as well as allowing travelers to self-scan their travel documents. This self-scanning feature combined with the biometric check is expected to result in a touchless experience for most travelers and Travel Document Checkers just before entering a screening lane.
TSA expects to buy upward of 2,000 CAT2 systems. The RFP says the program is for small businesses with offers due by Sept. 30 for the potential seven-year contract.