INS cancels IV&V portion of IS development program

The Immigration and Naturalization Service has canceled a key portion of a huge program for continuing the development of the agency's information systems— including systems border agents use to verify aliens' identities and systems INS workers use to process information on citizenship candidates.

INS earlier this year awarded three contracts under the Service Technology Alliance Resources (Stars) program for systems development and one for systems integration. However, INS has canceled the procurement for independent verification and validation (IV&V) of work performed by the other vendors.

David Goldberg, deputy associate commissioner for information resources management at INS, would not say why INS canceled the IV&V lot, nor would he say how INS plans to complete the work.

Goldberg said INS officials plan to have an IV&V contractor for the work performed under Stars. "We are committed to the concept of an IV&V contractor as part of the program," he said. "There will be, ultimately, an IV&V contract, but beyond that, I can't say anything."

Cancellation of the requirement late last month took vendors by surprise. "We don't know why or what their game plan is right now," said Marc Zoellner, director of corporate development for Abacus Technology Corp., one of the companies that had been chasing the IV&V portion of the Stars contract.

Industry observers have estimated the value of Stars at $1.2 billion over five years— with the single-award IV&V lot of Stars weighing in at close to $70 million. "It's disappointing because there's not that many one-award contracts anymore, and it would've been a very nice contract to win," Zoellner said.

The decision to snuff the IV&V contract on Stars comes as INS officials continue to grapple with a protest filed with the General Accounting Office by Keane Federal Systems Inc.

The protest, which should be resolved by early next month, focused on the "performance" portion of Stars won by in June by Electronic Data Systems Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Computer Sciences Corp.— business worth an estimated $750 million.

In May, INS chose Science Applications International Corp. to be the main planner and integrator for the systems development work under Stars— an award worth an estimated $400 million.

Sources familiar with Stars said the protest should be resolved by early next month. Zoellner predicted that his company and other IV&V bidders will not be briefed by INS officials on why they canceled the IV&V lot until after resolution of the protest.

Sources familiar with the procurement said AverStar Inc.'s Intermetrics subsidiary— a subcontractor to SAIC on Stars— as well as SETA Corp. and CTA Inc. also had been pursuing the IV&V portion of Stars.

An SAIC spokeswoman referred Stars questions to INS. But Ann Cohen, vice president for government services with EDS— the company that held the predecessor contract to Stars— said the decision to scrap the IV&V lot of Stars should have "no effect" on how other vendors do their work on the contract.

"I am sure that this does not mean that [INS officials] have given up on IV&V. They are big believers in it these days," she said.

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