Following award, US-VISIT kicks into high gear

As the prime integrator of the Homeland Security Department's system for tracking foreign visitors, officials at Accenture are looking beyond the details of the program's technology integration to the overall landscape of managing a multibillion-dollar program.

DHS officials announced last week that the company, based in Reston, Va., will partner with the government to design and build the high-profile U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program.

The award represents one of the largest information technology projects in the federal government and one of the highest-priority programs in DHS. The system faces significant hurdles because of its size and complexity. Officials at the General Accounting Office have called it a high-risk program.

Nevertheless, DHS officials have set an aggressive timetable for the system. They noted that a crucial step to meet that aggressive timeline — awarding the contract — occurred on schedule. They said the contract would be awarded by May 28, and the paperwork was signed that day.

"This is [not only] a significant milestone in the history of the department but also very significant for our efforts to secure the borders of the United States," said Asa Hutchinson, DHS undersecretary for border and transportation security. "We recognized from the outset that we wanted to have a private-sector partner in this effort."

The program will require officials at U.S. airports and seaports to verify the identities of foreigners who travel to the country by comparing index finger scans and digital photographs. The goal is to track when visitors enter and leave the United States, which was not done before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and is seen as a major border security vulnerability.

Accenture's team developed a plan

for the program that accounts for business processes, organizational structure

and workforce management, said Eric Stange, Accenture's managing partner for defense and homeland security.

DHS officials "felt we had a clear understanding of their vision for the future of border management and that we did assemble a strong team with strong competencies, and they liked our approach," he said.

The Accenture team's first project, which comes in the form of task orders, will be to enrich the program management capabilities and help DHS officials implement US-VISIT at the 50 largest land ports by Dec. 31.

"We are currently in negotiations with [DHS] on the specifics," Stange said. "One of the things that is going to be important is to set all of that into an enterprise architecture construct, so we can build on it and not find ourselves down some dead end."

The five-year base contract also includes five one-year options. The minimum value of the contract through task orders is $10 million; the maximum value is $10 billion, although DHS officials said they do not expect to hit that ceiling.

Accenture officials estimated that their proposals for the first two task orders would cost $72 million, according to DHS officials, adding that a third task order will follow for systems engineering to foster integration of existing systems and improve information sharing.

US-VISIT's actual cost depends on future policies, program development and congressional decisions, Hutchinson said.

"The future of US-VISIT is not going to be determined by this contractor," he said. "We don't turn over our border-security decisions and plans to the private sector, but we do want to utilize their experience

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