DHS Awards Blockchain Contract to Fight Forgeries in Immigration

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The agency awarded a phase one contract that tasks an Austrian company with providing a new level of interoperability across the Homeland Security Department’s siloed efforts.

The Homeland Security Department awarded an Austrian technology company more than $143,000 Friday to institute interoperability between the agency’s multiple data formats and blockchain-related endeavors—and to ultimately implement an innovative distributed ledger solution to combat forgery and counterfeiting in immigration and citizenship documents. 

As a modern record-keeping technology, blockchain validates information on a secure decentralized public ledger. Homeland Security issued an other transaction solicitation late last year to identify new solutions the technology can offer the department as it works to digitize its efforts and address modern challenges across the citizenship and immigration landscape. 

Homeland Security’s operational components Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration and Citizenship and Immigration Services are tasked with issuing and verifying a wide variety of citizenship and eligibility requirements, licenses and certifications. However, the agency said current issuance processes are all too often outdated, paper-based, and increasingly susceptible to forgery and fraud.   

“[The Science and Technology Directorate] is exploring the application of blockchain and [distributed ledger technology] to issue credentials digitally to enhance security, ensure interoperability, and prevent forgery and counterfeiting,” officials said in the latest announcement. 

The agency awarded Danube Tech GmbH a phase one contract to provide a sort of integrated system that encompasses the department’s multiple credential data formats, blockchains and standardized and open application programming interfaces. The award is part of the agency’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program, or SVIP. Companies that participate can receive up to $800,000 across four phases to produce or adapt commercial technology solutions to solve homeland security challenges. 

The ultimate aim of this contract would be to establish a streamlined, interoperable system that Homeland Security and all its issuing agencies can access to supply licenses, credentials or other critical verifications.

“Danube Tech is building core interoperability infrastructure for issuers and verifiers,” said Anil John, SVIP technical director. “Interoperability between blockchains is enabled by using emerging World Wide Web Consortium standards to globally resolve and find information where it exists on a particular blockchain.”