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TSA will steer OEMs to independent, third-party testing organizations

Testing at
TSA's own lab

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TSA is mulling a plan under which it would ask original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of security devices to have their equipment tested by commercial third party testing organizations before they bring their equipment to TSA to undergo its more formal test and evaluation process.

“This ‘third party testing’ concept will allow OEMs to assess their systems against TSA requirements, enhance and mature their technology readiness, and subsequently reduce the time required to proceed through each phase of testing because systems that successfully transition will be more capable of meeting TSA operational effectiveness and suitability requirements,” says a “sources sought” notice published by TSA on Dec. 13.

In essence, TSA is thinking about a scheme under which equipment manufacturers would put their equipment through their paces with a commercial testing company -- like opening a Broadway-bound show in Boston, before bringing it to the Great White Way -- to work out the kinks and learn how to perfect their gear before subjecting it to TSA’s examiners.

TSA is thinking of establishing what it calls “preliminary system development gateways,” which might test explosives detection devices, the integration of passenger checkpoint and baggage handling systems, interoperability issues, human factors assessments and environmental testing, says TSA’s notice.

By utilizing such “gateways,” TSA hopes it will be better able to achieve its three core goals: improving its operational performance and security effectiveness; integrating new technologies into ongoing security operations; and facilitating competition among qualified manufacturers.

TSA is planning an industry day for interested OEMs and third party testing entities on Jan. 16, 2013, but it has not yet announced the venue.

“TSA believes that by its support and identification of third party testing capabilities and by providing the OEMs and potential testers with the applicable TSA requirements and testing documents specific to the systems under development, the OEMs will submit more mature systems to TSA for qualification testing; thus allowing TSA to meet its acquisition goals,” explains the agency’s notice.

Interested third party testers have until Jan. 4, 2013 to submit their capabilities statements.

Further information is available from Susan Messina, a contracting officer, at 571-227-4055 or susan.messina@dhs.gov.