ICE extends Palantir's case management contract

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement is sticking with Palantir's Gotham as its case management and investigative analytics tool, and granted Palantir a three-year, sole-source extension to operate and service the system, according to contracting documents posted Aug. 19.

The ceiling value of the extension was redacted in contracting documents, but ICE paid Palantir an estimated $51.8 million to set up and run Gotham between 2014 and 2019 – about $10 million annually.

The extension is divided into one 12-month period and two option years. The current contract expires Sept. 25.

The sole-source extension is no surprise. In May ICE put out a request for information to determine if any company besides Palantir could support Gotham and to gather information on whether the long-term adoption of Gotham is in the government's best interest. However, ICE anticipated sticking with Gotham. "The government's assumption is that transitioning is not feasible at this time," the RFI stated.

Gotham serves as the investigative case management platform for ICE's Homeland Security Investigations division. In addition to routine data management and records linkage, the system is also capable of performing analysis on telecommunications data and other identifiers to try to ferret out networks of criminal activity. The system ingests and analyses a variety of data, according to an agency privacy impact assessment, including financial information, photographs, location data including information gleaned from license plate readers and information from other ICE and Homeland Security databases including Customs and Border Protections' TECS platform which maintains comprehensive border crossing records.

Palantir's data mining tools, its prominence as a defense contractor and founder Peter Thiel's public support for President Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race have made the company toxic among opponents of the administration's tough crackdown on illegal immigration and its push to roll back services for legal immigrants. Palantir is one a group of vendors that have experienced routine street protests at company sites from activists.

The opposition to Trump administration immigration policies is generating opposition inside tech companies themselves. Microsoft has faced backlash from inside its ranks for providing ICE with cloud computing services. Amazon Web Services has faced pushback from its employees over its relationship with Palantir.

DHS is taking notice of opposition inside tech firms.

"It's a huge issue for us in terms of access to market, competition, our access to the best thinkers," CBP's head of acquisition Mark Borkowski said at an industry event last October. "A lot of that culture of resistance tends to reside in this innovative, younger, progressive community."

It does not appear that Palantir itself, which was founded in part via an investment from the CIA's In-Q-Tel venture shop, has faced this kind of unrest from within.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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