Inside Dell's $120M DHS immigration deal

Company will process applications at more than 60 sites across the country

The $120 million outsourcing contract Dell Perot Systems won to process citizenship and immigration applications is both a new contract for the company and sort of a follow-on. And it's the result of a lot of homework.

As a subcontractor — the prime contract-holder was CMI Management Inc. — Dell Perot has been helping the Citizenship and Immigration Services bureau with records management for the past six years, said Jerry Sharpe, the company’s USCIS Field Office Support Services program manager.

“We showed [USCIS] how they could reduce their risk and gain efficiencies,” said Richard Pineda, general manager of Dell Perot’s Defense Department division.

USCIS was persuaded and switched horses, awarding Dell subsidiary Perot Systems Government Services a three-year contract. The contract is for management of records distribution, file operations, FBI name and fingerprint checks, oath ceremony scheduling, and file and pending application and petition inventory requirements, the company said.

CMI protested the award, arguing that the agency didn’t do an “adequate realism analysis” of Dell Perot’s proposal and rated the company higher than was warranted. The Government Accountability Office was not persuaded and denied the protest in January.

In February and March, Perot Systems helped reduce the number of USCIS' offices by 10 percent, and on March 15, the company began helping the agency process citizenship and immigration applications at more than 60 sites across the country.

The upset of CMI was no lucky break. Planning began well in advance of the request for proposals, he said. The company’s acquisition team spent more than a year vetting potential teammates.

“We wanted team members that could do more than check boxes,” Pineda said. “We wanted proven independent leaders in their field, and we wanted that kind of coverage in every one of the [more than 60] geographic locations.”

His team at Dell Perot had a 100 percent win rate on recompetes in 2008 to 2009. “We won every (recompete) contract we went after,” Pineda said.

“We feel there’s no better time or place to tout your skills and show your innovation than when you’re on the job,” he said. “Then when you say you have experience and a good track record, it means something real to the customer.”

Work Surge

Turning to the tasks at hand, “the primary challenges weren’t really technologically focused,” Sharpe said.

“There can be a tremendous fluctuation in the workload from one week to the next,” Sharpe said. “The challenge is to train and put in place a flexible team of people who can handle those fluctuations.”

Beyond having the people, processes and technology in place, Pineda said, “a key element is to ensure uniformity — of policy compliance, governance, training, performance.

“A key piece of technology that helps us ensure that is a piece of proprietary software that Perot Systems developed, a program management tracker and a dashboard for monitoring it all.”

The business process outsourcing deal with USCIS is huge, Sharpe said. With nearly 1,000 people at about 60 locations, “I don’t know we’d track everybody and everything without that software.”

The company’s five-firm team includes ASRC Management Services, DOMA Technologies, Data Entry Co., LongView International Technology Solutions Inc. and FedConsulting Inc.

About the Author

Sami Lais is a special contributor to Washington Technology.

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