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TSA shifting its focus from Microsoft and BlackBerry environments toward Apple devices

Following the public’s increasing demand for mobility, TSA is making a gradual shift from products and software produced for the Microsoft Windows and RIM BlackBerry environments to devices such as iPads, iPhones and iPods supplied by Apple.

The agency has recently signed off on a planned sole source procurement over the next three years of approximately 1,000 Apple computers and an additional 1,000 iPads, iPhones and iPods, whose total cost could reach as much as $3 million.

In a sole source justification document released on May 23, TSA says it “requires the hardware, software and licenses to support greater diversity of devices and operating systems as we follow the public driven demand for more mobility.”

TSA presented a long list of tasks it expects its new Apple products and devices to accomplish, including the creation of “high-quality marketing and communications material”; the production of multimedia communications for its 50,000+ field employees (including a new video version of the “National Shift Brief,” which TSA routinely offers to its personnel); forensic examinations on network and computer equipment using software available only on the MacOS; the creation of training presentations that can be used on secure mobile computing devices (including a pilot program to test the use of Apple TV); and the ability to download from the Apple AppStore, called iTunes, hundreds of relevant security-related applications, such as Google Translate, SmartTraveler, FBI Most Wanted, AmberAlerts, FlightTrack, and many others.

The agency noted that iTunes currently contains more than 585,000 apps for the iPhone and iPad. “A general trend in moving from website content to applications and the availability of highly useful applications at little or no cost provides TSA an opportunity” to become a more efficient and effective organization,” the notice explains.

The notice indicates that these sought-after Apple products will be available to government customers through First Source contract re-sellers, such as Computer World, ST Net Apptis, Gov Place and Government Acquisitions; GSA contract holders, such as CDWG and Gov Connections; as well as Apple itself.

The TSA notice also indicated that it has its eye on products from Google. “The other major TSA capability gap is the ‘Google Android’ capability which is being addressed in a separate and similar action,” said the agency.

Further information about this planned sole source procurement is available from Victor Martinez at 571-227-2218 or victor.martinez1@dhs.gov.