RealTime IT News

Accenture Lands Potential $10B Federal Contract

Accenture will serve as the prime contractor on the Department of Homeland Defense's (DHS) complex and ambitious virtual border project that could be worth as much as $10 billion for the technology firm and its subcontractors.

Under the contract announced Tuesday, the Reston, Va.-based Accenture will help develop and implement a new entry/exit system to be deployed at more than 400 U.S. air, land and sea ports of entry. The contract calls for a systems design to verify the identity of incoming visitors and to confirm compliance with visa and immigration policies.

Accenture beat out Lockheed Martin and Computer Sciences Corp. to win the contract.

The system will record the entry and exit of visitors through the use of biometrics such as inkless digital-finger scans and digital photos captured at the ports of entry. The information will be maintained in a DHS database designed by the Accenture team.

Key subcontractors of Accenture's "Smart Border Alliance" include Raytheon , The Titan Corp. , and SRA International .

According to the DHS, the contract includes five base years with five option years. While the contract has a minimum value of $10 million, its top value of $10 billion is theoretical since it involves budgets not yet approved by Congress.

"The exact amount depends on Congress and other policy decisions," Asa Hutchinson, under secretary for Border and Transportation Security at the DHS, told reporters. "It certainly will be at least a $1 billion contract before it is all done,"

The Accenture contract is part of the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program, which is built around the concept of a virtual border. When fully implemented, it should help the DHS assess the security risks of all U.S.-bound travelers and prevent potential threats from reaching U.S. borders.

The program also aims to help the DHS locate and remove U.S. travel violators without increasing waiting times at the border. Most important, according to the DHS, the virtual border makes U.S. border inspectors the last line of defense, not the first, in identifying potential threats.

"We want to take false passports and false travel documents as tools away from terrorists," Hutchinson said.

In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon after the DHS announcement, Stephen J. Rohleder, group chief executive of Accenture's Government Operating System, said, "The Smart Border Alliance will pursue an end vision for US-VISIT that is designed to provide innovative solutions to current entry/exit problems, modernize or replace existing computer systems, introduce new border-management processes, and implement a long-term strategy to help position DHS to address future challenges."

Currently, US-VISIT requires that most foreign visitors traveling to the United States on a visa and arriving at a land or sea port have their two index finders scanned and a digital photo taken to verify their identity at the port of entry.

Since first initiating the program in January at 115 airports and 14 seaports, more than 4.5 million foreign nationals have been processed through the system. According to the DHS, the system has helped intercept more than 500 persons with prior or suspected criminal or immigration violations.

Congress has mandated that US-VISIT must be deployed at the top 50 U.S. land ports of entry by December 31.