State to look for more passport help

State Department Passport Info

Facing public outcry and congressional uproar recently about delays in issuing passports, the State Department is going to seek additional information technology and administrative support for its passport support services when the current contract ends next March.

The department is looking to increase the number of passport support employees by at least 500 through the new contract, a State contract specialist said. The company that wins the contract will provide production, operational and systems support; supply management; upgrades; hardware and software installation and maintenance; records management; and training for State’s Passport Services Directorate of the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Most of the help will be IT and administrative in nature, the contract specialist said.

Lawmakers, who have been fielding complaints from angry constituents forced to reschedule travel, say that State did not properly prepare to meet the increase in demand for passports associated with this peak summer travel season. The spike in orders was compounded by new requirements that Americans traveling to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean carry passports under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which has since been delayed.

The agency said that passport applications will exceed 17 million in fiscal 2007 and increase as the new WHTI travel requirements take effect.

Contracted employees will need a secret or top secret clearance, facility clearance and likely a Moderate Risk Public Trust clearance. The vendor’s employees will work at four passport centers, 14 passport agencies and headquarters support offices. A vendor will be selected for one base year with the possibility of four one-year extensions.

State said it plans to issue a formal solicitation by the end of the month to anticipate the March 2008 expiration of the current contract with Stanley Inc. of Arlington, Va.

The formal notice will be posted on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site and contractors must be registered in the Central Contractor Registry to be eligible.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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