Unisys awarded CBP $62 million RFID reader contract

Published 18 January 2008

This year, various forms of U.S. IDs will be equipped with vicinity RFID technology; DHS selects Unisys to install RFID readers at the 39 busiest U.S. land border ports of entry

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) awarded Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based Unisys a task order worth as much as $62.2 million over five years to deploy readers and other technologies to support the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on new identification cards at the U.S. borders. Unisys of will install technology upgrades to enable border patrol agents at the thirty-nine largest land border ports of entry to read new RFID cards as well as to read license plates, the agency said in a news release. The new identification cards include the State Department’s upcoming passport card under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), the production of which — a $100 million contract — was awarded to General Dynamics earlier this week, as well as for a hybrid driver’s license and border card to be produced by Washington State and possibly other states and Canadian provinces. CBP awarded the task order under the Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for the Leading Edge Solutions contract program. It was competed among sixteen vendors in a category covering infrastructure engineering design, development, implementation and integration services.

Unisys will support the use of vicinity RFID technology, which makes RFID-equipped ID cards readable at distances of twenty feet. The RFID tags, embedded in the passport cards and enhanced driver’s license, will be scanned automatically by readers at the border. DHS officials have said they selected the long-range RFID technology over the shorter-range proximity RFID because it enables speedier processing of traffic at the borders. To protect privacy, the RFID tags on the passport card and enhanced driver’s licenses will transmit a reference number that must be matched to a CBP database to obtain personal information on the holder of the card or license.

Unisys ranks No. 27 on Washington Technology’s 2007 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.