U.S. VISIT system on fast track

Immigration officials are pushing forward with an aggressive schedule to implement a border security system and plan to call on industry soon for support.

Robert Mocny, deputy director of the Homeland Security Department's U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indication Technology, said today the U.S. VISIT system is on track to meet the Dec. 31 deadline for implementation at all airports and seaports and will include feature the use of biometrics.

Officials originally planned to start using biometrics in the immigration systems by October 2004, but the timeline was recently accelerated. Mocny said officials have been studying hand geometry, facial recognition and voice recognition and how those technologies can be scaled for use in the massive system.

The department also plans to have land-based border crossings on board with the system by the fall of 2004 and all remaining ports of entry online by December 2005. To meet those deadlines and ensure the overall vision of the program, DHS will need a systems integrator, Mocny said.

Homeland Security officials plan to hold an industry day in the next few weeks to gain insight and direction from leaders in biometric and border technologies. The department will be ready to issue a request for proposals from companies by mid-fall and aims to award a contract around May 2004.

"We need and want industry involved," Mocny said, speaking today at the BiometricsWorld conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by IDG World Expo.

Jim Williams, director of U.S. VISIT, emphasized that point. "We want to begin working extremely closely with industry to put together an RFP with you. We need to go through the procurement process and we need to do it well."

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