CBP publishes draft tender for facial recognition services for Biometric Entry

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is seeking a vendor to help upgrade its system to process all passenger applications with biometric facial recognition in the cloud, according to a published draft request for quote.

The expanded biometric system will include more self-service applications for travelers, and a single mobile touch-point for officers to make admit or refer travelers for further screening. CBP also plans for all traveler processing and vetting applications to run in the cloud by 2024. The contract, which is scheduled to begin in December and last through May 2025, includes “the full range of life cycle services” for the applications and related equipment.

The contract is part of CBP’s vision for the future of travel controls.

“A key initiative is to significantly reduce the need for officers to perform data entry and administrative processes wherever technology allows this to be done,” the agency explains in the document. “The paradigm will evolve from biographic data focused to biometric data centric. CBP will identify travelers biometrically based on information already in CBP holdings as an alternative to having the traveler present their travel document. A biometric-based approach allows threats to be pushed-out further beyond our borders before travelers arrive to the U.S. The elimination of token-based searches as well as the identification of other simplifications of the inspection process will allow for CBP Officers to engage with and focus more on the traveling public.”

The vision also includes moving officers from static booths to a more dynamic operations model. The model also includes the new Simplified Arrival (SA) process, which a CBP spokesperson told NextGov is already operating at 15 domestic and international airports. Facial recognition will also be used for the Global Entry program.

The government estimates the BPA to be worth approximately $960 million.

CBP defended its biometric programs to the House Committee on Homeland Security in July, and a pair of Senators recently demanded that the Department of Homeland Security publish an overdue report on its use of biometrics by August 16.

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