U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), awarded Unisys Corporation a task order to provide information technology in support of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), the company announced today. The task order is firm-fixed-price and has one base year and four one-year options, exercisable at the government’s discretion. The value of the base year is $37.2 million. The total value of the award is $62 million, if all option periods are exercised. CBP awarded this task order under Enterprise Gateway for Leading-Edge Technology (EAGLE), DHS’ basic contract for IT consolidation of its component agencies.

WHTI is an agreement among the United States, Canada, Mexico and Bermuda, whereby each participating country will issue radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled passports or other WHTI-compliant documentation for entrance to or departure from the United States. The RFID component stores the traveler’s relevant information. Card readers that Unisys will deploy and manage will quickly communicate that information to CBP, whose systems can confirm the document’s validity and the traveler’s identity.

The solution will also capture images of the vehicle and its driver, read license plate information, send the captured data to other CBP systems, and retain that data so that future searches can be performed quickly and easily.

The initiative is expected to enhance security and traffic flow at 39 northern and southern U.S. land ports of entry.

Unisys will design and implement the solution that reads WHTI-compliant identification credentials and that reads and verifies travelers’ license plates. Unisys will also provide help desk services and operations and maintenance for the solution.

A U.S. resident drives to Canada for the day. Upon his return to the United States, he would present his card to a reader, which communicates with CBP. Then, CBP could verify the identity of the traveler and also compare the information to various “watch” lists and other intelligence sources to determine whether the traveler should be allowed entrance, detained and/or questioned or prevented from entering. This enhanced border entry process is intended to verify the identity of WHTI travelers without additional time required at the border crossing point.

“The solution Unisys will provide for WHTI is a logical next step in the overall effort to secure the U.S. borders. The SBInet program (phase one of DHS’s Secure Border Initiative), on which Unisys is currently performing as a key subcontractor to Boeing, is designed to help monitor and secure the border between official points of entry. WHTI will cover the entry points themselves. Together, they create a high-tech, comprehensive system designed to enhance security at U.S. borders,” said Greg Baroni, president, Unisys Federal Systems.