INS awards verification contract

The Immigration and Naturalization Service will pay Computer Sciences Corp. up to $31 million for a computer system designed to verify the eligibility of foreigners who are applying for government benefits and for jobs.

Among other things, the system is intended to verify the eligibility of aliens to obtain U.S. driver's licenses, thus it could become a key component in homeland security.

The system, called a verification information system (VIS), is being designed to use the Internet to give benefits agencies and some employers virtually instant access to INS records that tell whether registered aliens may receive benefits or employment.

The system will not help the INS or other agencies deal with the more than 8 million illegal aliens estimated to be living and working in the United States.

CSC, which is building the system and announced the award this week, says it will replace the "alien status verification index," a mainframe-based system augmented by a separate case management system.

CSC program manager Dan Miller said the new VIS is being built to accommodate inquiries from more than 50,000 users at about 160 federal, state and local agencies nationwide. The VIS, which is to be ready for use by September 2003, is part of the INS Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, or SAVE program.

The Social Security Administration and the California Department of Motor Vehicles are expected to be among the users. CSC will bill them and other users for each eligibility check. Under the current SAVE program, users are charged between 2 cents and 23 cents per query.

Initially, at least, only a limited number of employers are expected to have access to the system through pilot programs, Miller said.

CSC's contract requires the system to be able to complete eligibility checks in about five seconds, Miller said.

That would be a vast improvement over the current system, which can take days or weeks to provide eligibility information, said Jim Dorcey, a former immigration fraud investigator for the Justice Department.

INS program officials were unavailable to comment on the new system.

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