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[] Bloomberg 10.1.02: Industry Pitches 12,400 Counter-Terrorism Ideas To Pentagon,
January 10, 2002

Industry Pitches 12,400 Counter-Terrorism Ideas To Pentagon

By Tony Capaccio

Washington -- Defense and commercial contractors have submitted 12,405 proposals to the Pentagon for new technologies to combat terrorism, according to officials. 

The Pentagon advertised for bids Oct. 23, citing a need for automated systems to identify Middle Eastern and South Asian dialects in intercepted phone calls, software to find patterns in law-enforcement databases, tags and sensors to monitor movement, face-recognition and voice-print systems and ``deception'' detectors to screen travelers. 

Similar requests in the past have produced 900 to 1,000 proposals, said Air Force Major Mike Halbig, a spokesman. 

This response ``is presenting us with some great ideas,'' he said. The submissions will now be reviewed by ``more than 200 experts around the nation,'' he said. 

Halbig said it will take ``more than a month'' to winnow the field; those who survive will be asked to complete their bid with a 12-page white paper. Contracts worth a total of $20 million to $40 million are at stake, officials said. 

Companies that may benefit include defense contractors Northrop Grumman Corp. and L-3 Communications Holdings Inc., which develop information systems as well as weapons, and Visionics Corp., a maker of face-recognition systems. Computer Sciences Corp. already has contracts for systems related to information security. 

Little-Known Group 

The project is being managed by a 20-year-old joint office of the State Department and Pentagon called the Technology Support Working Group. It funds companies, universities and think tanks performing innovative counter-terrorism research. 

Beneficiaries of technology developed have included the Secret Service, U.S. embassies, public health organizations, the Federal Aviation Administration and the intelligence community. The TSWG had a budget of about $50 million in fiscal 2000 and $70 million last year. It managed about 200 programs in 2000. 

The Pentagon wouldn't release any the specific proposals submitted but did say what response various categories received. 

A category called ``physical security'' received the largest number of proposals -- 1,211. 

This category was for proposals involving ``equipment and systems to safeguard personnel, prevent or delay unauthorized access to facilities and to protect against terrorist threats and sabotage'' and methods for mitigating the effects of bomb blasts on structures, said a Pentagon briefing document. 

Another 1,089 proposals were submitted for the ``combating terrorism'' -- an objective that includes but isn't limited to ``finding suspected terrorists, predicting the future behavior of terrorists, finding weapons and support equipment that could be used by terrorists and detection and warning of terrorist activities,'' said the document. 

The third most popular category, drawing 851 proposals, was for the ``tagging, tracking, locating and remote sensors,'' calling for covert observation that includes ``monitoring of civilians as well as military targets.'' 

Smart Software 

Here are some of the other technologies the Pentagon is looking for: 

-- Software to incorporate Afghan, Iranian and Arabic dialects into an Automated Speaker Recognition System. Companies submitted 95 proposals for this project. 

-- Programs to scan and decrypt a range of computer data, including data from handheld PDA devices: 451 proposals. 

-- Better systems for finding and identifying faces in videotape: 413 proposals. 

-- Systems that create a voiceprint of suspected terrorists and their associates ``based on a short sample of voice data collected from intelligence, law enforcement or media sources:'' 110 proposals. 

-- A system ``to detect, locate and map underground and concealed cavities that may serve as secure haven for terrorists and include ground penetrating radar, acoustics and unconventional surveillance and reconnaissance'': 376 proposals. 

-- Techniques to identify terrorists who have worked with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons through analysis of their clothing, hair, skin, blood, body waste, teeth and bone: 112 proposals. 

``The ability to identify instances of repeated exposure and to estimate the time elapsed since the last exposure is desired,'' said the Pentagon.

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