Williams focuses on making US-VISIT work

As the three bidding teams for the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program plug away at developing potential solutions, Homeland Security Department officials are equally busy with program plans.

In addition to continuing work on the acquisition, DHS officials are focusing on

increasing the staff in the program office, US-VISIT Director Jim Williams said. The effort was made easier by Congress' release of fiscal 2004 funds, and officials are starting to hire employees for positions held by staff detailed from DHS agencies.

Last month, agency officials announced plans to expand US-VISIT to visa-waiver countries by Sept. 30, adding another step to the program that will keep DHS employees busy. Williams said they are doing outreach to explain the system.

DHS officials continue to develop an exit solution for US-VISIT, and officials are testing a few options this year, Williams said. Officials are also keeping their eyes on the Dec. 31 deadline for implementation at the 50 largest land ports. They want to have an adjustable plan once a contract award is made, Williams said.

"Our challenges are just huge for this year coming up," he said. "We have a whole lot going on. We are following our plans, and we are on track to make the award" in May.

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