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House Passes TSA Bill to Increase Small Business Participation

The House of Representatives approved the TSA OPEN for Business Act (H.R. 6459) on Tuesday by voice vote. This bill was introduced on July 19 by Rep. Bennie Thompson (R-Miss.) and was referred to the Homeland Security Committee, which sent the bill to the full House by unanimous consent July 24.

The bill now goes to the Senate for the upper chamber’s consideration.

H.R. 6459 seeks to increase small-business participation in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) acquisitions and procurements. The legislation requires TSA to develop a strategy, including specific recommendations, that if enacted would help foster small-business innovators’ participation in TSA acquisitions and procurements. The bill also requires a feasibility assessment that would examine how TSA can help small-businesses overcome some of the challenges, such as resource limitations, that have been traditional roadblocks.

Some specific items the feasibility assessment would focus on include increasing TSA engagement with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate and/or In-Q-Tel, the Intelligence Community’s venture capital program. It would also assess the viability of TSA setting up its own In-Q-Tel-like program. Finally, H.R. 6459 prohibits TSA from lowering its security technology standards strictly for the purpose of increasing small-business participation in the procurement and acquisition process.

The TSA procurement and acquisition process can be an extremely costly endeavor for vendors. As a result, small businesses sometimes find themselves at a disadvantage as they may not have the requisite capital needed to go through the entire process or cannot afford to wait for TSA to make an award. Despite these challenges, small businesses provide TSA with some of the most innovative security solutions.

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate expects the bill would not lead to additional federal spending of more than $500,000 annually. CBO also stated that the bill would not affect direct spending on revenues and therefore pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. Furthermore, CBO does not expect the bill to increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2029.

At the same time, CBO issued a statement on the TSA National Deployment Force Act (H.R. 6461), which would establish an office responsible for deploying TSA personnel to provide additional security at airports and other locations and to respond to manmade disasters and other situations.

Using information from the TSA regarding the costs of similar activities, CBO estimates that, as with the previous bill, the Deployment Force Act would not lead to additional federal spending of more than $500,000 annually. Equally, it would not affect direct spending or revenues nor increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2029.

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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