Lockheed Martin opens U.S. Visit office

Lockheed Martin Corp. will open an office dedicated to homeland security, in advance of the government's award next month of a hotly chased, $10 billion contract to track the entry and exit of foreign visitors, the company said today.

The Bethesda, Md., IT-defense concern intends to open a dedicated center in Arlington, Va., to facilitate its work for the Homeland Security Department, should the company win the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program, called U. S. Visit.

Other contenders are Accenture Ltd. of Hamilton, Bermuda, and Computer Sciences Corp. of El Segundo, Calif. In May, the Homeland Security Department will select one of the three as the program's prime contractor. The contract is worth $10 billion over the next 10 years.

Under the U.S. Visit program, air, land and sea border guards will use biometrics to verify the identities of foreign visitors and track their arrivals and departures. Created in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the program officially began Jan. 5 with new entry procedures for most foreign visitors with nonimmigrant visas at 115 airports and cruise ship terminals at 14 seaports.

The government has mandated that the automated entry-exit program be implemented at the 50 busiest land ports by Dec. 31 and at all land ports by Dec. 31, 2005.

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