M.T.A. turns to Lockheed for security
(The following article by Sewell Chan was posted on the New York Times website on August 23.)
NEW YORK -- The Metropolitan Transportation Authority intends to announce today that it will pay up to $200 million to a team led by the Lockheed Martin Corporation, a major defense contractor, to create a surveillance and security system around major bridges, tunnels and train and subway stations.
According to people with knowledge of the talks who would not speak for attribution before the announcement, Lockheed Martin will lead a team of contractors in creating an "integrated electronic security system" that will include closed-circuit television cameras, motion detectors and "intelligent video" software that can automatically determine if a package has been left on a train or if a person is in a restricted area.
The deal is by far the biggest spending commitment so far in the authority's counterterrorism program, which has been hobbled by delays but was given new urgency after the London transit bombings last month. The authority's board approved a $591 million security plan in 2002, but as of last month, it had spent only a fraction of that sum. Now, officials say, most of the money will be committed or spent by the end of this year.
Other companies on the team led by Lockheed Martin will include Lenel Systems International, a security technology company based in Rochester; Arinc, a transportation communications firm in Annapolis, Md.; and Slattery Skanska, a unit of the big Swedish construction firm Skanska, according to the people with knowledge of the talks.
From 2001 to 2003, under the authority's former security director, Louis R. Anemone, officials conducted extensive reviews of potential threats, developed a list of especially vulnerable targets and began talks with a specialized Army unit.
After Mr. Anemone was fired in May 2003, in a dispute not directly related to security, the talks with the Army fell apart because, the authority said, the Army demanded too much control. For much of the last year, the entire security effort seemed to lose steam. But the authority's desire for military expertise has apparently endured. Lockheed Martin, which has 135,000 employees and is based in Bethesda, Md., works mostly with the Defense Department and does not have extensive experience in transit security. Its Transportation and Security Solutions business unit, which will lead the work in New York City, was created in June 2003.
"What Lockheed Martin does as a systems integrator is identify the best expertise and technology for the task at hand, and we bring that to the customer," a company spokeswoman, Anna DiPaola, said.
Several officials at Lockheed Martin - including Don Antonucci, the president of Transportation and Security Solutions, and Mark D. Bonatucci, a program director there - took part in the talks between the Army and the authority, according to a person who was part of those talks. They will now be overseeing the contract.
The unit, which has 2,200 employees, has focused on aviation, maritime and border issues. It has worked extensively for the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Archives and Records Administration, the Census Bureau and other federal agencies.
The deal, unlike most of the authority's contracts, has not been extensively discussed in public. The authority requested proposals from contractors on May 6, and bids were due on July 22. Three bids were submitted, according to the authority's spokesman, Tom Kelly.
The only official to discuss the request for proposals so far is Ashok Patel, program manager for security at M.T.A. Capital Construction, which handles big building projects, who was made available to reporters on July 11, four days after 56 people died in bombings in London.
At the time, Mr. Patel said this would be the first of two such contracts to be awarded. The second phase will involve measures to "harden" security throughout the transit system, he said, declining to specify a timeline.
The Lockheed Martin unit has been hired by the governments of Albania, New Zealand and Uzbekistan to work on air-traffic management or air-defense systems, according to its news releases. It has also worked on projects to visualize the location of aircraft at Spokane International Airport, in Washington, and to protect the facilities of the National Security Agency, the cryptologic and counterintelligence organization.
"All these defense firms have already, since the cold war, been diversifying," said Bruce Hoffman of the RAND Corporation, a research organization. "The public expectations for security are so high now that even avenues that may not have been pursued before have to be investigated."
Dr. Hoffman, an expert in counterterrorism, cautioned that neither cameras nor sensors would necessarily stop a determined attacker.
"One has to guard against over-optimism that there's one technological solution that will render us safe from terrorism, but we'd be foolish not to harness proven military technologies in a civilian environment."
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
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