Company protests TWIC contract award

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 2/9/2007

Integrated Biometric Technology filed a formal protest this week to the Transportation Security Administration's award of a $70 million contract for the Transportation Worker Identification Program.

The final rule outlining the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program - dubbed the TWIC program - was unveiled Jan. 1. The program is designed to enhance port security by checking the backgrounds of workers before they are granted unescorted access to secure areas of maritime facilities and ships.

The TSA intends to begin enrolling TWIC applicants in March.

On Jan. 29, TSA officials announced that the agency had awarded the Lockheed Martin Corporation a $70 million contract to open enrollment centers and to issue TWIC cards to port workers after background checks were performed.

Integrated Biometric Technology bid for the TWIC contract, and the company feels it offered better services for the program than Lockheed Martin, said Robert LaPenta, CEO of L-1, IBT's parent company.

TSA must have "misread key aspects of the proposal," LaPenta said in a news release.

"We are convinced that had the TSA evaluated all offer proposals fairly and properly, the Agency would have concluded that the IBT team unquestionably offered the government the most capable, most affordable and best value solution."

The TSA required that TWIC ID cards will be a "smart card" with a circuit chip that stores specific identifiers like fingerprints that can be read by port security workers.

Some transportation experts had criticized Lockheed Martin's proposed identification card, saying the card had a high number of false readings related to the circuit chip, said Rick Craig, OOIDA's director of regulatory affairs.

"There was some concern about the quality of the credential," Craig said.

The Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition averages 62 days to adjudicate contract objections, according to Marie Collins, dispute resolution officer with the Transportation Security Administration's Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition.

 Most federal bid disputes are examined by the General Accountability Office; however, TSA bids are investigated by the ODRA, Collins said.

 TWIC will impact more than 750,000 port employees, mariners, truckers "and others who require unescorted access to secure areas of ports and vessels," according to a TSA news release.

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