A US military IT contractor that provides imaging technologies and biometric systems to US immigration authorities for border monitoring and surveillance.
Leidos Holdings is an IT research company, headquartered in Reston, VA, that operates in the military, aviation, and biomedical research fields. The company primarily serves government security, engineering, and health agencies.
Leidos used to be part of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), which split in 2013. The larger company rebranded as Leidos and is the legal successor of the defunct SAIC, while the smaller company retains the name SAIC and focuses on other government services. Leidos’ subsequent 2016 merger with Lockheed Martin’s IT division made it one of the largest federal IT contractors and one of the world’s top 25 military contractors.
In 2020, the company employed about 39,000 people in 36 countries and reported annual revenue of $12.2 billion, 87% of which was derived from U.S. government contracts. From 2013 to August 2021, Leidos was awarded over $46.5 billion in U.S. government contracts, 45% of which by the Department of Defense. During the same period, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded Leidos contracts totalling $3.5 billion.
Leidos has a long history as a contractor of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Company representatives have expressed pride in its role “helping safeguard” U.S. borders and supporting “CBP’s essential national security mission.” Leidos provides CBP with screening equipment, including “drive-through” X-ray equipment to inspect rail cargo and vehicles crossing the border for CBP’s Non-Intrusive Inspection Program. CBP planned to purchase 17 X-ray drive-through portals between 2016-2020. In March 2021, the agency awarded a triple-company contract to Leidos, OSI Systems, and Smiths Group to provide X-ray systems and a 10-year maintenance program worth a potential $480 million.
In addition to screening vehicles, Leidos also provides CBP with the equipment necessary for the agency’s Traveler Processing and Vetting Software (TPVS), a biometric traveler identification system that screens over one million passengers and pedestrians and a quarter million vehicles on a daily basis. The system has a database with the travel history and immigration status of over 346 million individuals, which is shared with 20 U.S. federal agencies. Additionally, TPVS cross-references pedestrians crossing the border with TECS, a CBP information sharing platform that immigration agents use to screen persons upon entry into the U.S. Immigration authorities use TECS and TPVS to scan 10,000 travel documents per minute and can share this information with the FBI.
The TPVS system fulfills CBP’s goal of shifting its vetting of international travelers from biographic data to biometric data. As part of this process, instead of relying on travel documents such as passports, CBP will collect the biometric information of all travelers, before they arrive in the U.S., and compare it to the agency’s existing databases.
This system also expands CBP’s facial recognition capabilities. According to 2019 CBP solicitation documents, “using facial matching as the primary biometric verification modality provides a previously unavailable method to verify and facilitate travel for almost everyone, not just those travelers for whom DHS has fingerprints.” As of October 2021, CBP had awarded Leidos five contracts related to TPVS worth a potential $1.3 billion.
Leidos provides similar technologies to the FBI and the U.K. government. Since 2011, it has been the contractor for the FBI’s Next Generation Identification, the agency’s main biometric database. Information stored on the FBI system feeds into the DHS Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) biometric database, designed by Northrop Grumman, making this information available for ICE’s immigration enforcement operations.
Similarly, the U.K government awarded Leidos a 10-year contract in 2019 to merge the two existing biometric databases used by police and immigration agents. The combined database integrates fingerprints, DNA, and facial recognition capabilities.
Leidos has a political action committee (PAC) that donates to U.S. political campaigns, which spent $2.6 million from 2013 to August 2021. Leidos’ PAC has donated to both the Republican and Democratic parties through direct contributions and other PACs. During the same period, Leidos spent $19.5 million in lobbying expenses in relation to issues such as the Intelligence Authorization Act, U.S. defense budget, corporate taxes, aerospace, and Energy and Water appropriations, among others.