General Dynamics Corp received a potential five-year, $99.3 million contract to issue passport cards for the U.S. State Department. Unisys Corp. also received a potential five-year, $62 million contract to provide technology to read the cards at border crossings. Each contract has one base year and four one-year options.
General Dynamics will issue the passport card that will contain a radio-frequency identification chip. The technology is similar to what is used on toll ways to expedite payment. The chip will contain an identification number that will act as a pointer to information stored on a secure database that will identify the cardholder.
The State Department will begin accepting applications for the cards on Feb. 1 and hopes to start issuing them by the spring. The passport card, $45 for adults and $35 for children, is a cheaper alternative to passports and can only be used at land and sea border crossing and not at airports. A passport costs $97 for adults and $82 for children. The passport card project is part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which aims to tighten security for citizens returning to the U.S.