TSA Wants Technology for Passenger Self-Screening at Airports

The Transportation Security Administration is exploring the possibility of passenger self-screening at airports, similar to self-checkout at the grocery store.

On May 21, TSA posted an update to a solicitation originally posted in November. The opportunity, titled Passenger Self-Screening Systems Development, is a “call” under the Homeland Security Department’s Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Apex Screening at Speed.

The BAA is focused on research and development that will improve aviation security, reduce wait times, and improve the experience of passengers. For the BAA, TSA planned on a $96 million ceiling for five years starting in December 2016, but emphasized that the value was subject to change. BGOV estimates the self-screening element to be worth about $50 million.

The system resulting from this requirement would have to detect weapons and other items hidden on passengers without TSA officer interaction. A successful technology would be intuitive and self-sufficient for passengers, be used in conjunction with an X-ray screening system for carry-on baggage, improve security, accelerate the process, and reduce pat-down rates.

Initially, the process would be used only for passengers registered in the TSA PreCheck program, which offers expedited screening that doesn’t require the removal of certain items of clothing. Although not required, DHS is interested in solutions that incorporate biometric components.

Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg
Travelers stand in line at a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at New York’s LaGuardia Airport in 2019.

There will be three efforts under this requirement. The first is to develop a concept design of the proposed solution that DHS’s Office of Science and Technology can assess and ideally approve to move onto building a prototype.

The second would cover hardware and the third would cover software, both of which would have to detect “anomalous passenger activity and threat items hidden on passengers or in their accessible property,” according to the May 21 presolicitation synopsis. The agency is seeking hardware and software that can, within a year, reach Technical Readiness Level 7, meaning that the contractor will be able to demonstrate the technology at an airport.

TSA plans to award multiple stand-alone contracts rather than using a General Services Administration Schedule or other government-wide or multiple-award contract. It plans a full and open competition with a period of performance of 54 months if all options are exercised. TSA expects awards in late fiscal 2020 or early fiscal 2021, so TSA will likely post a final solicitation in June or July. Once it’s posted, contractors may submit one or multiple white papers. Any presolicitation responses are due by June 4.

TSA hosted an industry day for this requirement in February. There were 71 attendees, including International Business Machines Corp., Leidos Holdings Inc., the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory.

View the industry day slides and breakout session notes for help in preparing bids.

To contact the analyst: Laura Criste in Salt Lake City, Utah, at lcriste@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible: Daniel Snyder at dsnyder@bgov.com; Loren Duggan at lduggan@bgov.com

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