US-VISIT: Realism needed

The Homeland Security Department last week urged vendors competing for the development of an entry/exit system to use tried-and-true technologies so that the agency can meet its aggressive timetable.

DHS officials have set a Dec. 31, 2003, deadline for implementing the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) system at all airports and seaports, including biometric identifiers. The deadlines for implementation at land ports in 2004 and 2005, however, are a bit more daunting, officials said.

Jim Williams, US-VISIT director, said deploying the system at the 50 largest land ports by next year was "an enormous task" and "may be nearly unachievable." A DHS spokeswoman said it was too early to say if they would ask Congress to extend the deadlines.

Regardless of possible future delays, DHS officials are forging ahead with the vision and design of the immigration system, and agency officials are calling on industry leaders to offer their expertise.

Officials told industry representatives last week that the prime integrator for US-VISIT should present a practical solution with a sound business case. During a meeting with potential bidders, agency officials said they are planning to release a request for proposals by Nov. 30, receive proposals in January 2004 and award the contract in May 2004. The prime integrator will have a hand in each step of the development of the system, from the program management to the transition and deployment phases.

"I really envision this as a partnership every step of the way — a seat at the table," Williams said at an industry conference. "We want the prime integrator to play a key role with every aspect."

Although DHS officials clearly presented the scope of the project and the aggressive deadlines, they asked vendors to draw on their expertise to present solutions for immediate implementation. Officials are looking to build strong partnerships with the private sector, including a shared responsibility for the system.

"We want the prime integrator to have shared mission accountability," Williams said. "Our careers are being judged by this, and I would like to see the same thing on the industry side."

Gene Kakalec, vice president of business development and marketing operations for Northrop Grumman Information Technology, said DHS officials presented adequate details of their needs and that the September release of the department's enterprise architecture will give them more direction. Northrop Grumman is a potential bidder on the contract.

"They want to have bidders with solutions," Kakalec said. He said DHS officials are asking vendors to understand the agency's mission and present their ideas.

Lawmakers have allocated $380 million for US-VISIT for fiscal 2003, $5 million of which was released to build an expenditure plan.

Officials asked for the release of an additional $47.5 million of the allocated funds to develop more immediate projects. That money was granted July 7, Williams said, and will be used for system development and the purchase of equipment, such as fingerprint readers.

To meet this year's deadline, officials are modifying current systems, such as the immigration fingerprint and photograph database, IDENT. The General Accounting Office is reviewing the expenditure plan for the remaining funds, and Williams said he expects to receive the funds in the next couple of weeks.

***

Focusing on milestones

The following are U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology deadlines:

Dec. 31, 2003: System deployed at all airports and seaports and includes biometrics such as two fingerprints and a digital photograph.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group