Assembly of Components of the U.S. Passport

March 26, 2008

Q: Describe the State Department's role, if any, in the decision by the Government Printing Office to use a factory in Thailand for assembling the components of U.S. passport. Can the Department reject a manufacturer selected by the GPO?

A: GPO and Department of State employees jointly evaluated proposals from several companies to supply the unprinted passport cover (which contains the chip and antenna and the only part of the passport not produced or assembled by GPO). The GPO/State evaluation committee recommended the two companies selected as there were no American manufacturers who could provide the needed product. GPO signed the contracts with these companies on behalf of the U.S. Government.

Q: When the Department began its e-passport program, were there any American companies that produced the electronic chips needed for those passports?

A: We are not aware of any U.S. companies that made the chips that could satisfy the requirements of the e-Passport Request for Proposal at the time we launched our e-Passport program and we received no acceptable proposals from them.