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ManTech protests General Dynamics win of controversial DHS-ICE contract

ManTech International has filed a bid protest against a $113 million contract won by General Dynamics to support the Homeland Security Department’s Visa Lifecycle Vetting Initiative.

The initiative drew fire at one time because Immigration and Customs Enforcement originally sought a company that could apply machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies to scan social media feeds and identify people with visa’s who may pose a terrorist threat to the United States. This was part of the so-called “extreme vetting” process that the Trump administration has advocated for.

DHS faced push-back from civil liberty groups, who were worried that people’s rights would be trampled upon and that the system would be used to profile Muslims and others groups.

But there also was the problem that the technology didn’t really exist and the system would need to be custom built, which would take years and would be the kind of project susceptible to cost overruns.

The Washington Post reported in May that DHS and ICE gave up on the AI effort. Instead the contract focuses on “training, management and personnel” who will do the analysis manually. The Post reported that ICE would hire about 180 people via a contractor. They would monitor the social media feeds of 10,000 foreign visitors that the agency has flagged as high-risk.

The 180 would only monitor publicly visible social-media posts. The monitoring would stop if the person received legal residency in the United States, the Post said, attributing the information to ICE.

CSRA won the work and General Dynamics acquired it earlier this year.

ManTech filed its protest on Aug. 24. A decision is due from GAO by Dec. 3.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Aug 29, 2018 at 2:09 PM

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