State awards $164M passport facility contract

The State Department has awarded a contract potentially worth $164 million over 10 years for passport personalization facilities to Stanley Associates of Arlington, Va., according to the company and federal contract records.

The company will provide one and possibly two turnkey contractor-operated facilities to carry out several stages of the passport production process, according to Stanley and to federal contract documents monitored by Input of Reston, Va.

The deputy assistant secretary for consular affairs of State, Frank Moss, last month forecast that the Consular Affairs Bureau would award a contract for the new passport facilities within days.

'There has been a surge in demand for passports,' Moss said at the recent IdentEvent conference sponsored by the Information Technology Association of America. 'We have hired more than 250 passport examiners [to accommodate the increased workload],' Moss said.

Several stages of the passport issuing process are handled by federal employees, who verify applicants' eligibility for the documents, among other critical duties.

State's contract with Stanley provides that the company will manufacture up to eight million passport books at each personalization facility during each contract year, according to Input.

The passport production process includes work by several contractors and also by the Government Printing Office. For example, the Government Printing Office has worked with State to select Gemalto Inc. of Washington to provide the contactless smart cards that will be embedded in passport covers and hold photos and other passport holder data.

All the stages of the passport book production, including manufacture of various components such as the chips, the paper, the printing of the booklet paper and the passport covers and a metal insert designed to foil improper access to the data on the smart card, are handled in high-security facilities, according to various State Department documents.

According to Input, Stanley's contract calls for the company to handle several stages of the passport production process as follows:

  • Receipt, protection, inventory control and accountability of all blank passport books and controlled passport consumables
  • Receipt and protection of all data, production statistics, and personal information regarding passport applicants
  • The accurate printing of personal information and endorsements in blank passport books
  • The accurate writing of personal information on the integrated circuit in passports
  • The quality control and review of personalized passport books with issuance data
  • Accountability for and destruction of spoiled passport books
  • The inclusion of any necessary mailing inserts to be provided with each passport
  • The preparation of mailing labels and attachments of such to passport mailing envelopes
  • The mailing of passports in appropriate envelopes with appropriate postage required for each envelope, including collaboration with USPS and contract mailing and shipping services.

Stanley plans to build the first new passport personalization facility in Hot Springs, Ark., according to a press release the company issued yesterday. Stanley said it might build a second passport personalization facility in Tucson, Ariz., if demand for the travel documents continues to increase.

Stanley said it would immediately start building a Hot Springs production plant that would begin generating passports in spring 2007. The passport personalization facility likely will employ more than 150 full-time and part-time workers in the next year to 18 months, the company said.

Stanley already provides various types of IT services, passport application processing services and logistics support to the Consular Affairs Bureau's Passport Services Directorate. The company helped build the National Passport Center in Portsmouth, N.H., in 1992 and has expanded its work to provide support services to State in 17 locations nationwide, the company said.

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