recommended reading

TSA pays $245 million for smaller, faster body scanners

Erik S. Lesser/AP file photo

The Transportation Security Administration is dropping nearly a quarter of a billion dollars on compact, next-generation body scanners to better detect concealed explosives, such as the newfangled underwear bomb recently seized in Yemen. The imaging machines, like other upgraded systems, hide a passenger’s nude body from TSA officers by displaying generic representations of appendages with suspect items flagged. 

Three five-year contracts paying out a combined total of up to $245 million have been awarded to L-3 Communications Corp., American Science and Engineering Inc. and Smiths Detection, according to government databases. The procurement documents released during the past week do not disclose the number of machines purchased or name the airports where they will be stationed.

Citizens frequently bash TSA for invading privacy and holding up checkpoint lines without improving security. Agency officials said the new body scanners will provide “enhanced threat detection capabilities and increased passenger throughput.”

In May, White House officials confirmed spoiling an apparent Yemeni-driven conspiracy to detonate hidden explosives that were more resilient than those worn by the failed underwear bomber on Christmas Day 2009.

The episode sparked questions about the ability of existing body scanners to spot more sophisticated combustible materials.

The procurement documents state the next-generation machines can discern both metallic and non-metallic items such as “weapons, improvised explosive device components and plastic threats.”

The Homeland Security Department, which supervises TSA, is partnering with A-T Solutions on a five-year, $46 million project aimed at countering homegrown IEDs, the contractor announced on Sept. 13. 

Correction and update: An earlier version of this story overstated the amount TSA is paying for new body scanners; the correct figure is $245 million. The story also has been updated to report the Smiths Detection contract, which was announced after the article was originally published. 

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.