INS devises second planning contract for entry-exit system

The Immigration and Naturalization Service has released a request for proposals for development efforts for its National Security Entry-Exit Registration System.

Through the Entry-Exit system, the Homeland Security Department is building a database of information about aliens who cross U.S. borders.

INS already has awarded a contract to BearingPoint Inc. of McLean, Va., to help it with the system's planning. That deal runs through 2005.

"The new RFP is a program support contract," said Robert Mocny, director of the Entry-Exit system. The winning vendor will help INS develop the solicitation for building the system, he said, adding that BearingPoint is eligible to submit a proposal.

INS received $362 million to spend on the project this year. Congress OK'd the administration's full request. For fiscal 2004, President Bush's proposal seeks an additional $480 million.

Although there have been many changes since INS first conceived the border registration system, including the agency's absorption into HSD, the goals of the program are essentially unchanged, Mocny said. INS already gathers some data on aliens; the new system will expand on those efforts.

The INS Data Management Improvement Act of 2000 outlined the Entry-Exit system rollout schedule: deploy it at all air and sea entry points by the end of this year, field it at the 50 largest land entries by the end of next year, and launch it at all ports of entry by March 1, 2005.

INS had wanted to issue an RFP last fall to build the system, but the delay in finalizing a fiscal 2003 budget scotched that plan. In the intervening months, project officials have been working with the Office of Management and Budget to hone planning for the program, Mocny said.

"We have been working on getting all the requirements developed" and refining the interfaces that will be needed with other systems, he said.

As part of that effort, INS officials have been working with the HSD transition team to shift the project to one of the INS bureaus at the new department, the Border and Transportation Security Directorate.

INS has set a four-stage process for the system:

  • Pre-entry: State Department officials will access the system and run checks against their systems, such as the Consolidated Consular Database, and other screening data from airlines and cruise lines.

  • Entry: Border officers collect information as people enter the country.

  • Stay management: INS checks and, if necessary, changes the terms for someone's stay in the country.

  • Exit: The system will close out a record when someone leaves the country.

  • "Another element would be analysis of the information," Mocny said.

    A secondary but large part of the program will be the use of biometric data to check the identities of visitors from 28 countries to which the United States has granted waivers that exempt their citizens from needing visas.

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology is developing standards for those biometric systems.

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