TSA lays ground work for next IT infrastructure contract

The Transportation Security Agency is developing its new IT infrastructure contract and if history is any indication, this will be another hotly contested competition.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I updated this blog to correct the value to CSC. Thanks to commenter "Rocky Balboa" whoever you are.

One of the more hotly contested and lucrative contracts of the past decade is coming back for a recompete as the Transportation Security Agency has released a request for information for its IT infrastructure contract.

Currently, the contract is held by Computer Sciences Corp., which won the work in 2009 but then had to fight off multiple protests from Unisys Corp., which held the predecessor contract.

Unisys won the first infrastructure contract in 2002, shortly after TSA was created following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The contract was worth about $2 billion to Unisys from 2002 to 2010 when CSC took over.

For CSC, the contract has also been lucrative. According to Deltek’s procurement data the contract has brought in $544 million in task orders since 2010.

The RFI indicates that TSA is looking for a managed services contract this time around.

The RFI is scant on details on what TSA wants exactly, but like most of these kinds of notices, it is asking questions about business models, contract structure, performance measures, and incentives for a managed service of an IT enterprise. Each of those different subject areas has a set of questions TSA wants answered in the responses to the RFI.

TSA’s IT infrastructure supports 60,000 employees at wide range of locations including TSA headquarters in Arlington, Va., and 550 airports around the country.

While TSA is just in the beginnings of its contract development and many unknowns are out there, one thing is known: CSC is going to fight to keep this contract.

The company confirmed its interest in an email to me and said that the big change from its current contract is the emphasis on managed services and cloud offerings.

“As agencies continue to explore effective ways to reduce the overall cost of delivering IT services while maintaining a high degree of enterprise agility, there's an added emphasis on managed services, some of which are housed in a variety of cloud environments,” the CSC spokesman wrote. “Managed services also provide a sharp focus on the end-user experience.”

In some ways, the changes TSA is exploring reflect some of the changes CSC has made with its own service offerings. The company has been building out its managed services offerings focusing on the cloud, cyber and big data capabilities while jettisoning other part of its business that aren’t focused in those areas.

In their email to me, they specifically mentioned a new cloud management platform that they announced this week. It builds off of the October acquisition of ServiceMesh, a cloud management company.

The new offering is called ServiceMesh Agility Platform and CSC says it “allows us to manage our clients’ environments more effectively by automating the deployment, management, governance and security of enterprise applications and platforms across private, public and hybrid cloud environments.”

Obviously, other companies have been making similar investments to bolster their own manage services offerings, after all we are at the beginning of the “everything as a service” era.

So I expect CSC will see plenty of competition as this contract rolls forward.

Responses to the RFI are due April 9.