The US Transportation Security Administration is scheduled to initiate a pilot program, wherein they will purchase up to $3 million worth of Apple devices for the next three years. The program would include buying 1,000 Macs and 1,000 mobile devices.
TSA’s Mobile Computing Program
In a document revealed by NextGov earlier this month, it is said that Apple hardware and software will be used in certain areas of TSA’s Risk-based Counter Terrorism mission. The devices are deemed integral “to meet variety of operational, programmatic and mission-specific requirements.”
As stated on the filing, Apple products will “fill the gap” in the organization’s existing hardware ecosystem. The devices will be used in media production, forensic network and computer examinations, mobile operations, training and software development, and many more.
Their plan to use Apple products rooted from an effort to diversify and mobilize TSA’s IT model in 2009. A diverse IT model would make the organization’s workforce flexible and effective.
The Competing Contracts Issue
Government organizations normally allow full and open competition for contracting practices that are sanctioned by Federal Acquisition Regulation. However, TSA argues that only Apple products will fit the program’s needs. Thus, the organization has filed for a Class Justification and Approval.
They also added that competing contracts are impossible, pointing out that Apple’s OS X and iOS platforms are locked to the company’s hardware. This means that no competing manufacturers exist. TSA also stated that “until such a time as Apple allows other operating systems to function its hardware the requirement to obtain Apple products by means other than full and open competition will continue to exit.”
iOS Apps from Government and Commercial Organizations
TSA also noted that every government and commercial organization releases an iOS app first, followed by an Android version. Furthermore, majority of the government-written apps available to the public like Smartraveler, FBI, FCC and EPA are available on iDevices only.
The organization has existing Microsoft Windows and RIM Blackberry capabilities. However, they were pushed to use Apple due to “public driven demand for mobility.” TSA mentioned that the company is one of today’s major original equipment manufacturer that also produced a widely-used full suite of hardware, software and licensing.
That’s TSA is covering all the bases and lists of proposed procurements such as iPads, iPhones, iPods, Apple TVs, Apple operating system, and App Store apps. This also includes peripherals and accessories such as monitors, extended warranties and AppleCare repairs that are needed to support iDevices in an enterprise or production environment.
The TSA is the latest government agency that will take advantage of iOS devices. Prior to this, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminisitration and the Bureau of Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also made their move to Apple products.