DHS buys Anteon card readers

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"US-VISIT on track"

The Homeland Security Department awarded Anteon International Corp. a $3.6 million contract for card readers for the immigration entry/exit system.

Information Spectrum Inc., an Anteon subsidiary, will deliver 1,000 optical card readers and biometric verification systems for the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) system.

The systems will be deployed to ports of entry nationwide and work with existing DHS platforms, the company said. The systems will read encoded data on the more than 13 million permanent resident and border crossing cards.

"It is a critical step in the advancement of Anteon's strategy to position the company to be a world market leader in secure identification solutions, with particular emphasis on personalization and issuance systems," said Fairfax, Va.-based Anteon's president and chief executive officer Joseph Kampf.

The systems will be delivered over four months, with 250 installed each month, said Mark Heilman, Anteon's executive vice president of corporate development.

The contract is not part of the US-VISIT procurement, but was awarded by the US-VISIT program office, he said. Although the specific technology chosen for the US-VISIT program hasn't been chosen yet, it's a good assumption that these systems will fit into the overall US-VISIT vision, Heilman said.

Heilman said the contract is a strong signal from DHS about the current direction of biometric technology.

"There's been a lot of debate about what the technology will be, at least what the interim technology will be over the next couple years, as far as credential cards," he said. "We think this shows a continuing commitment to use optical storage cards for the foreseeable future."

Optical storage cards have a stripe that is writeable and readable with a laser and can store about 5 megabytes of data for high resolution biometrics and documents, Heilman said. They are more secure than integrated circuit cards or so-called smart cards, which have some security weaknesses, he said.

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