Scores Bid to Design Anti-Terror Surveillance System

Scores of defense industry giants, prominent universities and small technology companies submitted proposals last year to design and build elements of the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness (search) anti-terrorism surveillance and analysis system.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (search), or DARPA, which is managing the project, financed 26 research projects and rejected 154 others through last Dec. 4 in response to a solicitation that focused heavily on TIA projects.

Contract records were obtained through a Freedom of Information lawsuit by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (search), a privacy advocacy group. Other DARPA contract data were released under FOIA to the Center for Public Integrity, an ethics advocacy group.

Here's what those documents show:

• Veridian Systems Division of Arlington, Va., won one of the largest awards, up to $27 million to design software to allow "intelligence analysts and decision makers to jointly participate in the development of a full range of contingencies, through rapid scenario formation, in which warning and response actions could be gamed out."

• The University of Southern California received $1.7 million for "Just-In-Case Just-In-Time Analysis." This software would help analysts work together to assess data quickly from varied sources.

• Hicks & Associates Inc., of McLean, Va., won up to $19.3 million to design tests for TIA tools over several years. The Hicks contract, which include options for various levels of finance depending on how much work is needed, hires the company to assist DARPA in evaluating software designed by other contractors. Among other things, it would prepare fake databases to be used in experiments before any software was given to agents.

• Science Applications International Corp.

• Booz Allen Hamilton.

• Raytheon.

• Colorado State University.

Among rejected proposals was Johns Hopkins University's "Autonomous Threat Detection," MIT's "Out of the Box: A Multi-Model Environment for Collaboration in Anticipating and Responding to Terrorism," and USC's "A Platform for Automatic Understanding and Summarization of Text Documents Applicable to Counter Terrorism Operations."

Other rejected projects were proposed by Honeywell Laboratories; Lehigh University; Lockheed Martin; Northwestern University; Ohio State University; Pennsylvania State University; State University of New York at Albany; University of Massachusetts; University of Oregon; Columbia University; General Dynamics; Northrop Grumman; and The Boeing Co.