The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) last week awarded Leidos [LDOS] a potential five-year, $442.5 million contract to provide integrated logistics support for checkpoint security equipment at airports nationwide.

Work under the award, which was made to Science Applications International Corp., will be performed by Leidos, which is being spun out of its former parent company. Leidos unseated incumbent Siemens [SI], which beat out then-incumbent Boeing [B A] for the work in 2005.

The initial increment to Leidos under the contract is $4.8 million, a TSA spokesman told Defense Daily on Friday.

Leidos will help sustain L-3’s ProVision body scanner among other equipment at the checkpoint. Photo: TSA.

Siemens, which is based in Germany, received about $530 million under its original award that ran through January 2010. The recompeted contract was valued at $468.6 million through February 2014.

Leidos will provide sustainment services to the range of equipment currently used at aviation security checkpoints, from metal detectors and body scanners to X-Ray systems, explosives trace detectors and bottled liquid scanners.

Separately, TSA late last week notified Congress that it planned to award OSI Systems’ [OSIS] Rapiscan Systems division a potential $67.1 million contract for 550 Advanced Technology (AT) X-Ray systems, which are used to screen carry-on bags at aviation security checkpoints in the United States.

The award for the AT-2 systems, which refers to upgraded versions of the original AT X-Ray systems, is exclusively for Rapiscan. The agency previously purchased AT systems mainly from Rapiscan and Britain’s Smiths Detection, while L-3 Communications [LLL] also provided some systems.

The initial award is for $59.8 million and covers AT-2 X-Ray systems with Tier One capabilities, which represents a threat detection capability lower than Tier Two. The decision to make an award against less stringent detection requirements didn’t sit well with Smiths Detection, which was also competing for the contract.

"TSA’s decision ignored its own stated needs for higher levels of detection capability, which the agency itself has deemed critical to ensuring the safety of air travelers," Mal Magginis, president of Smiths Detection, said in a statement on Friday. "The decision also minimizes the future cost of ownership and the time and investment needed to ensure detection of new and emerging threats."

Maginnis also said that Smiths Detection’s AT-2 X-Ray system can meet the tougher detection requirements.

"Smiths Detection equipment already has the capability of detecting these threats, and represents the best value solution to TSA’s needs, now and in the future, considering total cost of ownership."

Maginnis is also unhappy with how the agency factored in past performance in the competition.

The win for Rapiscan comes three months after the company avoided a potential long-term debarment from receiving new federal contracts and task orders. The Department of Homeland Security last spring notified Rapiscan that it faced potential disbarment from federal contracting due to concerns by TSA that the company failed to disclose issues related to automated threat recognition (ATR) software the company was developing for its whole body imaging systems it had already provided the agency to screen airline passengers. TSA sent Rapiscan a show cause letter in November 2012 alleging that the company did not disclose changes it made to its ATR software during testing.

"We are also very concerned that TSA is awarding this contract to the same manufacturer who it recently moved to debar from federal contracting and significantly scrutinized for a lack of acceptable business quality and compliance management," Maginnis said. "If past performance is a factor in this decision, as TSA has stated, it is difficult to understand the choice they made." Maginnis said that his company "strongly disagrees with TSA’s selection" in favor of Rapiscan.

Under the original AT X-Ray contracts, TSA has purchased just over 1,000 AT X-Ray systems from Rapiscan, 740 from Smiths, and 52 from L-3.

TSA awarded the original AT X-Ray contracts in October 2007. The technology is based on dual-view imaging capabilities, which generate two images of the contents of a bag to provide the operator with greater clarity.

With the additional image, the dual-view systems are supposed to provide enough data so that software algorithms can be created to automatically detect threat objects and explosives inside a bag, lessening the burden on security screeners that operate the X-Ray machines. However, while this capability is used in some international airports for hold baggage screening, the TSA has never relied on it for checkpoint screening.