DHS prepares for mission

Steve LeSueur

When the Homeland Security Department begins competition for the long-awaited U.S. Visit system -- a request for proposals is expected within a few months -- the agency gets one of its first major tests in building and operating a system that is critical to its mission.

U.S. Visit will track foreign nationals as they enter and leave the United States, relying heavily on biometrics and smart-card technologies to ensure that all visitors are accounted for.

"This project will measure the success of the department," an industry official said.

The Homeland Security Department is gearing up for another major contract as well, called Spirit, which will be crucial for companies seeking work with the new agency. The 10-year, $10 billion Spirit contract will be awarded to a host of companies, which will then compete for task orders to provide the department with IT and network services.

"If you aren't on it, you're on the outside looking in," said another executive.

Senior Editor Nick Wakeman talked with the companies that are chasing these two watershed contracts, and found growing excitement that the Homeland Security Department, just barely six months old, is taking shape and primed to tackle the jobs
attached to its mission.

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