DHS eyes outsourcing, data mining for immigration overhaul

The Homeland Security Department has asked vendors for advice on a revamped immigration processing system using outsourced services and data mining.

Citizenship and Immigration Services, the arm of DHS' Border and Transportation Security directorate that handles immigration status changes, is in line for a complete systems overhaul under the request for information issued to vendors last month.

The RFI said the immigration agency plans one or more solicitations to focus the IT structure around the needs of customers.

CIS seeks to buy design, integration, system implementation, training and change management services associated with the IT makeover, according to procurement documents.

The DHS agency said it is particularly interested in a share-in-savings approach to the project, known as the CIS Transformation Initiative. The RFI called for information about case management, electronic filing, call centers, Web applications, knowledge management, human resources planning, document scanning, biometrics, data mining for fraud detection and point-of-sale applications.

The procurement document added that the department 'seeks information about a fully outsourced solution' as well as other approaches sharing personnel, equipment and connectivity.

CIS has a global workforce of about 15,000 employees and 5,000 contractors. They now process and adjudicate more than 6 million applications annually, track about 50 million case files and serve more than 17 million customers each year.

The IT infrastructure is costly, inefficient and nearly obsolete, the RFI said. It 'consists of nonstandard, outdated infrastructure supporting more than 60 minimally integrated applications, is batch-processing-oriented, and makes limited use of Web tools and applicant self-service. Programs still rely on handling significant volumes of paper, and current systems do not support improved business processes,' it said.

The antiquated IT resources do not permit department officials to forecast the demand for immigration services, lead to inconsistent decisions, hamper efforts to curb fraud and slow down processing, making it hard to reduce a backlog, the department said.

Supporting materials describe the agency's collection of IT resources, which rely on such obsolete technologies as Cobol, Job Control Language and Time Sharing Option.

The systems overhaul is intended to help CIS become a self-funded organization by 2006, as mandated by Congress.

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