US-VISIT seeks e-passport readers

The Homeland Security Department intends to issue a solicitation for readers that will authenticate foreigners’ electronic travel documents, according to a notice published Aug. 5.

The readers are part of the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program, which screens foreign nationals entering and leaving the country to identify potential terrorists.

According to the Border Security Act of 2002, equipment to approve e-passports and machine-readable U.S.-issued travel documents must be installed by Oct. 26, 2005.

On Friday, DHS released the presolicitation notice, detailing system requirements and next steps. Questions, comments and solutions are due Sept. 19. The solicitation will be issued in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year at the earliest.

The five-year Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract could be worth up to $50 million.

One challenge with the reader is working around privacy concerns.

According to the notice, “the reader shall be capable of reading an opened e-Passport when it is placed on the reader, irrespective of any shielding mechanism used for the e-Passport.”

One of the “desirable” requirements is that “the reader should be designed to inhibit eavesdropping of communications between the reader and the e-Passport from a distance greater than 1 meter (39 inches) from the reader.”

US-VISIT will hold an industry briefing Sept. 1.

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