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DHS Awards XTec Contested $103 Million Biometric ID Contract

Jeff Gentner/AP file photo

The Homeland Security Department has switched vendors for a deal inked last September to update an employee badge system with advanced biometric verification features, such as face and iris scans, officials announced late Friday. 

DHS originally awarded the $102.8 million contract to HP Enterprise Services on Sept. 27, 2013, but in November the department notified the Government Accountability Office that it was reevaluating the award after XTec, which had previously provided software for the project, argued  that "the agency did not reasonably evaluate proposals," Ralph White, GAO managing associate general counsel, told Nextgov last month in an email.

The value of the new contract, over an anticipated 10-year timeline, will remain the same, Homeland Security officials say.

DHS awarded the new contract to XTec Inc., on Feb. 28, officials said in a filing on FedBizOps.gov, a website for federal business opportunities. 

Homeland Security last month temporarily extended XTec's expiring contract for one year while reassessing technologies proposed by XTec, HP and other technology firms. 

In recent years, GAO attorneys had twice dismissed challenges to contracts brought by XTec. In November 2011, the credentialing firm was unsuccessful in contesting an award to Secure Mission Solutions for a Secret Service access control and visitor management system. Later that month, XTec lost a protest against an order for HP technology to support a General Services Administration system that issued and maintained ID cards for employees governmentwide. 

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the government required that all federal employees carry biometric ID badges to access federal facilities and computer networks. GSA offers the cards at a bulk rate to all agencies, but many departments, including DHS, prefer to manage credentialing inhouse. 

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