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State Dept. may look for new vendors for passport and border crossing cards

The State Department is gathering information from potential vendors who could supply card stock for the department’s credit card-sized Passport Cards and Border Crossing Cards, as well as radio frequency attenuating sleeves, card printers and readers, and technical support services.

The department’s “sources sought” announcement, which was published on Dec. 27, also said it may “create additional types of travel cards,” but did not provide any specific details about such business opportunities. “These cards would be functionally similar to the Passport Card but would be used to denote other travel privileges,” said the notice.

“The Passport Card has been an accepted alternative to the traditional book-style passport at U.S. land and some sea ports-of-entry (POEs) since June 1, 2009,” explained the notice, which was issued by the State Department’s office of consular systems and technology services.

That office emphasized that its sources sought initiative, which is “full and open” to all potential sources, does not constitute a formal solicitation.

The Passport Card is functional in the DHS “ReadyLane” system, an integrated border-crossing system that includes programs such as NEXUS, the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers’ Rapid Inspection (SENTRI), and the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) programs.

The Border Crossing Card can be issued to citizens and residents of Mexico. “The BCC allows them to enter defined border zones in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas for business and pleasure,” explains the State Department notice.

Potential suppliers are asked to provide their capabilities information to the State Department by Jan. 28, 2013.

Further information is available by email only from Adrienne Bell at bellam@state.gov.