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Oracle inks homeland security deal

The database maker plans to supply the Transportation Security Administration with call center software and other information technology infrastructure.

Oracle has signed a deal to supply the Transportation Security Administration with call center software and other information technology infrastructure.

The Redwood Shores, Calif., software maker announced the contract with the newly established federal agency on Monday. The TSA, which is part of the recently formed U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for security screening at commercial airports across the country.

Under the contract, the TSA has agreed to use Oracle's database management, application server and customer relationship management (CRM) software to allow the public to file complaints and comments to the agency online. The system also will help TSA employees report and track security breach incidents, according to Oracle and TSA representatives. The deal is part of a $1 billion contract between the TSA and Unisys, an IT services and outsourcing company, Oracle said.

An Oracle representative would not disclose the value of its portion of the contract, which was signed in November. The company has already reported some revenue from it in the quarter that ended Feb. 28, the representative said.

Many business software companies have been keen to sign deals with the federal government as sales to businesses have languished. The TSA, which the government has assembled from scratch, has been a popular target for technology marketers aiming for a piece of the government's homeland security budget.

In an earlier deal, Oracle, Electronic Data Systems, PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting and Sun Microsystems agreed to work together to develop biometric technology for potential use by the TSA. That alliance effectively dissolved after IBM, a big competitor of EDS, acquired PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting last year, according to Oracle spokesman Michael Sperling. The TSA never bought any products or services that resulted from that alliance, he added.

Oracle rival Siebel Systems said last year that it had supplied the TSA with a version of its CRM applications tweaked for the purpose of screening and training airport security personnel for the agency's massive hiring effort.

The Oracle TSA project is unrelated to Siebel's project and is much wider in scale, Sperling said. Siebel representatives didn't immediately return calls about the status and scope of the company's TSA project.

Both Siebel and Oracle have been vocal proponents of information technology as a cure-all for many of the government communications blunders uncovered after Sept. 11, 2001. Just months after the devastating terrorist attacks, Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison offered to supply the government with the company's database software for free for a proposed national identification card plan. Though the government never took Ellison up on it, the offer still stands, Sperling said.