TSA Wants A Vendor To Manage Its Third-Party Tech Testing Ecosystem

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The new process will let the agency leverage private sector testing organizations instead of relying solely on Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.

The Transportation Security Administration is all about using the latest technology to ensure the safety of travelers while, hopefully, shortening the amount of time those travelers spend waiting in security lines. But those technologies often get stuck in their own queue, waiting for tests and evaluations before they can be deployed.

To speed that process, TSA is looking for a contractor who can identify appropriate third-party organizations able to test and evaluate bleeding-edge technologies used for transportation security. Those organizations should be able to test for cybersecurity, human systems integration, safety, reliability and threat detection, among others, to ensure TSA is only deploying mature technologies that can stand up to real-world conditions.

TSA has been working on a third-party testing program since 2014 and finalized the process in January 2018. Prior to that, TSA relied on the Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate to provide testing teams and data.

The new process “allows TSA to review and possibly accept data from a variety of external data sources—to include data from third party testing organizations—for use in a system evaluation,” according to a request for information posted on FedBizOpps Monday. “The use of data sources external to TSA during review and acceptance of systems helps to expedite [testing and evaluation] timelines, improve the maturity of vendor submitted systems, and/or provide additional test data for demonstrating system performance.”

Ideally, the contractor will be able to handle the entire testing lifecycle, including managing cooperation between the manufacturer, industry provider and the testing organization “with minimal or no TSA involvement,” according to the solicitation. Companies bidding on the contract should already have a stable of “pre-vetted/qualified” testing organizations for all the required areas prior to submitting a bid.

While TSA has specific requirements for how the process should work, officials are flexible on the kind of company or organization that gets the award.

“TSA is considering all potential industry providers, and approaches, for fulfilling the desired support, to include small business industry providers, a consortium of multiple complementing firms and consortiums of potential third-party testing organizations,” according to the post on FedBizOpps.

The request for information asks interested parties to provide information on their corporate expertise, approach and estimated costs.

Responses are due by noon on May 22. Questions are due no later than April 29.