DHS buys more name analysis tools

The Homeland Security Department's Customs and Border Protection agency, an arm of the Border and Transportation Security Directorate, has signed a sole-source contract with Language Analysis Systems Inc. of Herndon, Va., for additional software to help analyze names of people.

The software is particularly useful in winnowing the names of terrorists out of lists of passengers or other data sources [See GCN story]. CBP's National Targeting Center is responsible for identifying travelers seeking to enter the country who may be terrorists or pose other threats.

LAS chief executive officer Jack Hermansen said the contract is the department's first direct purchase of the company's name matching tools, though the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a DHS legacy agency, bought LAS services in the past.

LAS sold its NameStats and NameParser products to CBP to glean biographical data from name records. The software, together with other name analysis tools and name reference libraries the company sells, uses advanced algorithms that rely on name patterns from particular languages and cultures, especially those such as Chinese and Arabic that are not familiar to most federal intelligence analysts.

CBP this week bought the NameParser and NameStats products from LAS. 'The NameParser [application] analyzes a database and can catch flaws,' such as a middle name out of place, Hermansen said. 'Certainly it can immediately improve an [intelligence] operation by helping provide the best quality data.'

CBP officials decided to buy the LAS products on a sole-source basis after extensive testing revealed that no other products could fulfill the agency's needs, Hermansen said. LAS' name matching and analysis tools have found customers at intelligence community agencies, the FBI and the Pentagon, he added.

Hermansen declined to specify the price of the contract. He cited the GSA schedule price list for the software at www.las-inc.com/gsa, which indicates that the company's products sell for prices ranging from a few thousand dollars each for a small implementation to about $508,000 for a complete suite of the products fielded on a large server.

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