DHS weighs seeking delay on U.S. Visit deadline

The Homeland Security Department may seek to delay one of the key milestones in its entry-exit system project, the director of the U.S. Visitor and Immigration Status Indication Technology system program said yesterday.

Jim Williams, speaking at a vendor briefing on the project, said DHS is on track to place U.S. Visit at all air and sea entry points by year's end.

The system will be able to use biometric identification.

In DHS' original plans, the systems for the air and sea entry points were not expected to begin using biometric IDs until Oct. 1, 2004. But Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge moved that deadline up 9 months.

Although Williams said his team can meet the deadline, it might need to ask Congress to postpone further deployment of the system to land ports.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service Data Management Improvement Act of 2000 requires U.S. Visit to be in place at the 50 largest land entry points by the end of next year and at all land entry points by the end of 2005.

The administration may have to ask Congress to revise the Dec. 31, 2004, deadline, Williams said.

The department is trying now to figure out a new approach that would make it possible to meet the deadline for the 50 largest land entry points.

DHS expects to award a contract for building the system in May. The request for proposals, originally scheduled for release last month, is slated to hit the street in November. Bids will be due in January.

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