Some people questioned whether the U.S. government would award Accenture the contract because it's incorporated in Hamilton, Bermuda. But only a handful of employees are situated there; 25,000 of Accenture's 90,000 workers are based in the United States. Accenture, with operations in 48 countries, says it maintains no corporate headquarters.
The government began to solicit bids in November, with contractors submitting them in January. The US-Visit Program Office led the source selection process, supported closely by department's border-management unit, representatives from other Homeland Security offices, as well as the State and Justice departments.
According to Homeland Security, each proposal was evaluated on four key factors: the business and technical solutions suggested to achieve the vision of US-Visit as an end-to-end management system; the management approach and proven capability to deliver a complex set of solutions; and the development and implementation strategy to deploy US-Visit entry and exit capabilities at the 50 busiest land ports of entry. Cost was also a major factor considered in the award decision.
Asa Hutchinson, Homeland Security's undersecretary of border and transportation security, said in a statement announcing Accenture's selection that the award marks an important milestone in the history of homeland security. "By harnessing the power of the best minds in the private sector, we have taken a major step toward accomplishing our goals of enhancing the security of our country while increasing efficiency at our borders," he said.
Accenture will provide a range of professional services, including strategic support, design and integration activities, technical solutions, deployment activities, training, and organizational change management.
The government's vision of US-Visit is to deploy end-to-end management and sharing of data on foreign nationals covering their interactions with federal officials before they enter the United States, when they enter, while they are here, and when they exit. Hutchinson contends that this comprehensive view of border management will lead to the creation of a virtual border and will set a course for improved processes to manage and share data on foreign nationals.
Since deploying US-Visit entry capabilities at 115 airports and 14 seaports on Jan. 5, more than 4.5 million foreign nationals have been processed without adversely impacting wait times, Homeland Security says, adding that since its launch, US-Visit has helped the government intercept more than 500 people with prior or suspected criminal or immigration violations. These include convicted rapists, drug traffickers, individuals convicted of credit-card fraud, a convicted armed robber, and numerous immigration violators and people using falsified documents.
US-Visit requires that most foreigners traveling to the United States on a visa and arriving at an airport or seaport have their two index fingers scanned and digital photographs taken to verify their identities at the port of entry. By Sept. 30, this process will also apply to visitors traveling under the visa waiver program at all airports and seaports of entry.