18 Oct 07. The first section of a high-tech “virtual fence” along the U.S.-Mexico border will be tested this month after defense contractor Boeing Co. reported it solved most of the computer glitches that have delayed the program for months. Boeing personnel who briefed federal officials “sounded real optimistic” about the fixes, said Brad Benson, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman in Washington. “I have talked to Border Patrol personnel, and they weren’t quite that optimistic.” Loaded with sensors, radar and sophisticated cameras, nine towers along a 28-mile section are designed to detect illegal immigrants and drug smugglers coming through the heavily trafficked area southwest of Tucson. The $20m virtual fence pilot project remains on hold because software designed to integrate the results of sensor hits, radar readings and camera sightings wasn’t working correctly. A glitch in the programming has kept it from providing a common operating picture for agents, who plan to use it to spot and capture illegal entrants and smugglers. Because of that, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a congressional committee last month that he would withhold further payment to Boeing, the prime contractor, and declined to accept the system until he was satisfied. That testing is now set for the last week in October, Benson said. Boeing did not return calls to The Associated Press seeking comment. The virtual fence is being tested first in Arizona, the focal point for illegal crossings into the United States from Mexico. But plans call for installing 1,800 such towers along both the Mexican and Canadian borders. (Source: AP)
15 Oct 07. SI International, Inc. was awarded a new prime contract with the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (DHS USICE). SI International will provide bond control specialists to review bond actions and manage case inquiries associated with alien files. The contract has a six-month base period with four one-year option periods. The contract value is approximately $20.5m, inclusive of the options. The value of the contract win was included in the October 11, 2007 news release announcing awards in excess of $450 million for the month of September. USICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations’ mission is to ensure the departure of all removable aliens from the United States. A key record’s function of this activity is the review, update, and disposition of bonds associated with these aliens. This past month, SI International was awarded a $225m contract supporting DHS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Service Center Operations in Nebraska and Texas. The company also supports USCIS Office of Records services with the tracking and accounting of more than 62 million immigration files.