Customs Modernization Gets $130 Million Start

Customs Modernization Gets $130 Million Start

By Nick Wakeman, Senior Editor

OCT. 13 ? The Customs Service's $2 billion modernization effort got a major boost this week when the Senate joined the House in approving the Treasury Department appropriations bill.

The bill provides about $130 million for the Customs Service to get started on the project, which will update and improve the information systems and processes the agency uses. The contract is expected to last 15 years.

The request for proposals could be issue as early as Oct. 20. The agency announced in early August that it will be using a streamlined acquisition process that relies more on oral presentations, rather than a written document, for technical and management proposals.

"[The] Senate action is a huge step for the U.S. Customs Service as well as for e-government generally," said Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of American, an industry organization in Arlington, Va. "The United States is the epicenter of the new economy. We cannot allow a badly out of date computer center to cause this country to become the world's most backed up border crossing."

Chasing the contract are four teams lead by Andersen Consulting of Chicago, Electronic Data Systems Corp. of Plano, Texas, IBM Corp. of Armonk, N.Y., and Logicon Inc. of Herndon, Va.

The four teams recently participated in a field trip to Customs Service sites in Laredo, Texas; Long Beach, Calif.; and Los Angeles, said Lisa Mascolo, managing partner for Treasury Department work at Andersen Consulting.

She said the request for proposals likely will be out as early as Oct. 20 and probably no later than Oct. 27. The document is already prepared and will be released when President Clinton signs on the appropriations bill, she said.

According to the Custom Service's schedule, proposals would be due by late November, with oral presentations in mid-December. An award is anticipated in mid-February 2001.

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