Accenture LLP (search), a technology and management consulting company, was awarded a government contract Tuesday worth up to $10 billion to develop and expand biometric technology for checking identities of foreigners visiting America.
The system, known as US-VISIT (search), requires foreigners to be fingerprinted and photographed upon entering the United States at a major airport or seaport. The technology also can include iris scans to identify people.
The Department of Homeland Security (search) awarded Accenture the contract over two other bidders, Lockheed Martin, based in Bethesda, Md., and Computer Sciences Corp. of El Segundo, Calif. Accenture's parent company is Accenture Ltd., which is incorporated in Bermuda.
The contract is for five years with five one-year options beyond then. Homeland Security officials put its value at between $10 million and $10 billion. It was announced by Asa Hutchison, the department's undersecretary for border and transportation security.
"US-VISIT is one of the top priorities of the department," said Homeland Security spokesman Dennis Murphy.
The system began operating in 115 airports and 14 seaports in January. By the end of the year, the department is to have a similar system in place at the country's land borders. It also is required to have a system in place to keep track of whether foreigners leave when required.
Murphy said doing so is a far greater challenge. In 2002, 358.3 million U.S. and non-U.S. citizens entered the United States through the nation's land borders.
Accenture is a publicly traded company with more than $11.82 billion net revenues reported in 2003, according to the company's Web site.
The parent company has more than 110 offices in 48 countries and in 50 U.S. cities.