InfoZen has won the first of multiple contracts for an electronic system to
process immigration forms, a project that is trying to make a comeback after
consuming five and a half years and an estimated $1 billion .
The 3-year, $11.9 million award requires the company to combine software
received from the various other vendors, and test the system's usability and
compatibility with existing source code, among other things, according to
federal officials and a request for proposals obtained by Nextgov.
IBM, the incumbent on the initial 2008 $536,000 contract, will assist with
the transition until May, Homeland Security Department officials said this
week. Had DHS not changed course, officials estimated costs for the "
Transformation" project could hit $3.6 billion. Currently, the public-facing
tool, called the Electronic Immigration System -- ELIS in a nod to
immigration station Ellis Island -- offers forms to pay fees for visa
processing, extend or change the status of a stay, and apply for investor
DHS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has not set a completion date
for digitizing the rest of its casework.
USCIS distributed a solicitation for new proposals in June 2013 to a pool of
68 pre-vetted IT vendors on the “Alliant Small Business” contract vehicle
. InfoZen was selected in October 2013 but the award was not disclosed in
government contracting databases and the company only recently announced the
“This contract is critical for the success of the agency’s large scale
automation of current business processes, as well as deploying a modernized
code base that is sustainable, cost-effective, and reusable," InfoZen
President Raj Ananthanpillai said in a statement. The company declined to
make an official available for this story.
IBM's contract ended last year, but was extended in July to allow USCIS more
time and flexibility for the changeover, agency officials said.
In a February 2012 memo, the agency's top tech chief blasted IBM’s
performance to date. The company’s “design is poorly thought through and
inconsistently applied by the developers. The result is duplication of
efforts, time spent on rework, slowness in debugging problems, poor quality
code, etc.,” USCIS Chief Information Officer Mark Schwartz wrote.
Now, USCIS officials plan to have InfoZen lead a software design approach
called "agile development." The practice, promoted governmentwide since the
start of President Obama's first term, demands short deadlines for smaller
sections of code and continuous feedback from agency users about
functionality, as opposed to the traditional, less incremental process of
spending large amounts of time and money building huge systems that upon
completion often don't work as intended and are costly to fix or alter.
The Transformation project was being developed the traditional way.
Schwartz’s predecessor in the CIO position was reassigned after asserting
the project was suffering from excessive costs, inadequate technology and
mismanagement. Many former agency personnel still fume that Transformation
was allowed to continue, despite warnings by the former official, as well as
negative federal inspector general and Government Accountability Office
IBM is not precluded from bidding on the forthcoming software jobs, which
involve moving existing code to a new architecture, along with improving
design and programming flaws.
When asked to comment on the hiring of InfoZen, company spokesman Michael
Rowinski said, "IBM looks forward to continuing our important mission work
InfoZen Contract to Enable Agile Software Processes for U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS)
Bethesda, MD - March 19, 2014
InfoZen, a leading provider of Agile Software Development, Cloud Managed
Services, and related IT solutions for the public sector, announced today
that it won a new three-year prime contract valued at approximately $12
million from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agency that oversees lawful
immigration to the United States.
Under the contract, InfoZen will work with the Agile Development teams to
integrate and operate software products using open source tools to provide
continuous software integration and delivery services in direct support of
the USCIS business goal of a paperless electronic immigration system that
will transform nearly all of the agency's processes. InfoZen's scope of work
encompasses integrating work products of up to twenty agile development
teams, automating end-to-end development and DevOps processes, managing
builds, and providing configuration control. InfoZen will establish an Open
Source-based Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD)
pipeline to enable a standardized and repeatable automated build and
deployment environment to enable frequent delivery of high-quality software.
“We greatly appreciate the opportunity to add our expertise to this
innovative project for USCIS,” explained Raj Ananthanpillai, InfoZen’s
Chairman, CEO and President. “This contract is critical for the success of
the agency’s large scale automation of current business processes, as well
as deploying a modernized code base that is sustainable, cost-effective, and
reusable. We believe it can be a model for other agencies looking to
leverage agile software development practices with CI/CD with the DevOps
processes to enable rapid delivery of high quality software.”
About InfoZen, Inc:
Founded in 1995, InfoZen is a leading provider of mission critical IT
services and solutions to the public sector. Among its services, the company
provides cloud computing, agile software development, systems engineering,
data analytics, and mission IT services management. InfoZen's Cloud Managed
Services Practice specializes in delivering cloud security, design,
migration and operations solutions for the unique needs of federal agencies.
InfoZen is at the forefront of the information-based screening and risk
assessment of millions of people to protect critical infrastructure and
support national security. For more information about InfoZen, please visit
the company web site at www.infozen.com.
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