Chenega wins $500 million Customs contract

Chenega Technology Services Corp., a tribally owned Alaskan Native village corporation, won a $500 million contract to maintain and repair all inspection devices used at U.S. ports of entry, officials at the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection said today.

The 10-year contract is the largest award ever made by a civilian agency to a small disadvantaged business in the 50-year history of the Small Business Administration, according to the customs bureau, which is part of the Homeland Security Department. The contract includes one year and nine option years, according to Bobbi Walker, CBP's business contracting officer's technical representative.

Chenega will be the prime contractor for implementing equipment maintenance and repairs in the field for inspection devices at ports. The company is also responsible for making sure the people operating the equipment are thoroughly trained.

Until now, maintenance was provided by the original equipment manufacturers for their respective products. CTSC will act as the major integrator for maintenance of all port inspection equipment while many of the original vendors continue to provide maintenance.

By centralizing maintenance, Walker said officials would have a better idea of how well equipment works.

"It allows us a lot of opportunity to develop trends on how well the equipment is working, and we'll be able to have a lot of statistical information down the road," she said.

The customs bureau has 12,000 inspection devices at land border crossings, airports and seaports to prevent terrorists and weapons from entering the United States, said Robert Bonner, the commissioner of the customs bureau.

"These devices are used daily by our law enforcement officers and are critical to the security of the United States," Bonner said. "This contract will ensure that the devices are properly maintained for the CBP officers working to facilitate the flow of legitimate travelers and cargo across our borders."

Most port inspection systems are hand-held devices, but there are asome large x-ray and gamma ray inspection machines located at every domestic port of entry, as well as locations outside the United States where Customs agents are stationed, said Dudley Prisel, the director of the CBP's Technical Support Branch.

Radiation detectors have been deployed at some seaports around the country to help prevent smuggling of weapons of mass destruction.

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