All differences aside
Protest resolved, Lockheed will double FBI fingerprint, biometrics database
- By David Hubler
- Jun 12, 2008
If you think the FBI has a large fingerprint
database now, wait until Lockheed Martin
Corp. completes work on a $1 billion contract
that would double the existing file of 46 million
fingerprint sets and include the newest
It's enough to make special agents Mulder
and Scully think about plunging back into the
Lockheed won the 10-year
contract in February to design
and build the FBI's Next Generation
Identification system. NGI will update and
expand the bureau's Integrated Automated
Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), an
advanced database when it was created in
But initial work on NGI was
halted when IBM Corp. filed a
protest with the Government Accountability
Office over the decision to award the contract
to Lockheed Martin.
Last month, shortly before GAO was scheduled
to issue its ruling, IBM withdrew its
protest, and Big Blue joined the Lockheed
Martin team to develop and run the NGI
multimodal biometrics system, which will be
used by state, local and federal law enforcement
authorities. Neither company was willing
to offer details of the agreement.
"We don't talk about protest resolution,
[but] we're delighted it was resolved," said
Judy Marks, president of Lockheed Martin
Transportation and Security Solutions. "The
role they've been given is a great role for IBM.
Most importantly, while we're pleased to have
them on the team, it did not take away from
any of the commitments that we have made to
the subcontractors and teammates who've
been with us for a couple of years."
The brief stoppage will not delay the original
target completion date of 2017, she said.
"IBM and Lockheed Martin have a strong
history of collaborating in the federal community,"
Dave Amoriell, general manager at IBM
Global Services Federal, said in a statement.MOVING FORWARD
There appear to be more protests these days,
and the process to resolve them is expensive
and time-consuming, said Bob Dinkel, president
and chief operating officer at FedResults,
a government marketplace consulting firm. "It
makes a lot of sense if it's only two firms
butting heads to come to some kind of settlement,"
he added. "It tends to be a win-win for
all parties involved."
"There are other cases that we've been
involved in that have resolved themselves in
the same way," said Bill Walsh, senior partner
at law firm Venable LLP. "The dollars at risk
are enormous, and the GAO sustain rate is at
an all-time high. Under those circumstances, a
subcontract arrangement will put a smile on
the federal customer. In today's environment,
these types of arrangements are encouraged."
Walsh said he couldn't say whether resolving
contract disputes by the parties involved is
a trend in the federal marketplace. "It needs to
be watched, but it's something that is in vogue
today and may well turn into a trend."
Revising and updating the work schedule to
include the brief hiatus is the task at hand,
said Barbara Humpton, NGI program director
at Lockheed Martin. "The most important
thing to do in project management is to maintain
a very solid plan, and we and the FBI are
updating the baseline plan" created at the end
Lockheed gave its team members temporary
assignments during the protest period to
keep them engaged and ready to return quickly
to NGI. They've all been called back and are
working again on the NGI contract, Humpton
said. "We reassembled the team, put them
back into those key slots to help re-plan
things, and we have them side by side now
with their FBI counterparts."
Upgrading the fingerprint files remains the
first and most important part of the system
because fingerprints remain a critical crimefighting
and anti-terrorism tool. Fingerprint
identification "is what law enforcement uses.
That will not change anytime soon," Marks
said. The fingerprint database is targeted to be
fully functioning by 2013.MASSIVE SYSTEM
NGI will double the size of the FBI's IAFIS,
which is housed in an underground facility in
Clarksburg, W.Va. The repository is the largest
collection of its kind in the world.
The FBI amassed the collection through voluntary
submissions of fingerprints and from
criminal collections by state, local and federal
law enforcement agencies. Authorized officials
can scan IAFIS files for data by submitting a
10-print fingerprint set. Electronic responses
are usually available within two hours for criminal
cases and 24 hours for civil cases.
"IAFIS has been a fantastic tool in support
of criminal justice and the war on terror," said
Thomas Bush, assistant director of the FBI's
Criminal Justice Information Services division.
"NGI will give us bigger, better, faster capabilities
and lead us into the future."
NGI has a design/build quality to it that is
intended to accommodate upgrades and
improvements throughout the contract period.
If some new biometrics technology becomes
available during the ninth year of the contract, it
will be incorporated in the system, Marks said.
"We don't know ... where we'll be 10 years
from now," she said. "That's the real visionary
part." She credited the FBI with setting the
tone of the project by telling Lockheed Martin,
"We know what we know, we know what we
can see in the near term, but we're going to figure
out the long term together."
The challenge is going to be identifying,
evaluating and being able to implement new
technologies and the various biometric modalities
and using them effectively, Marks added.
"Does iris [scanning] help you more? Does
facial recognition help you? Does palm [print]
"The framework itself is designed with open
standards in mind," Humpton said, citing
potential biometric advances. "The concept is
to build a framework that enables various
modalities to plug and play for the ultimate
biometrics interoperability." NGI is being
designed with technical flexibility to accommodate
future biometrics technologies that
could be important aids to law enforcement
efforts. "There's a lot of invention going on,"
"Our challenge is to understand the state of
the possible," Marks said. "Once it's possible to
understand, can it be reduced to practice?"
The FBI wants to take advantage of the best
technologies as they emerge and not get
locked into particular products and services,
Humpton said. "So what we're bringing forward
is a framework that is product-independent,
vendor-independent."David Hubler (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate
editor at Washington Technology.