Three giants compete for FBI biometric deal

Three major federal contractors ? IBM Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. ? are in the running for the FBI's new $1 billion biometric database contract expected to be awarded this week, company officials confirmed today.

The FBI's Next Generation Identification System is an upgrade to the agency's decade-old Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. The new system expands the amount of biometric data collected and is supposed to make it easier for the FBI to share data.

The value of the multiyear project is estimated at $1 billion by market researcher Input Inc. of Reston, Va., although some industry sources say it could be higher.

The new FBI contract will include engineering support, software and hardware support, an interstate photo system, advanced fingerprint technology and palm print biometric identification functionality. The bureau may expand the requirements to include facial recognition and iris scans.

Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Md., has FBI experience because it developed the IAFIS system, which operates at the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division in Clarsksburg, W.V.

Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman said last year that its large partners on the project include BearingPoint Inc., General Dynamics Corp. and Raytheon Co.

Its West Virginia-based partners include Azimuth Inc. and Key Logic Systems Inc., both of Morgantown; and DSD Laboratories Inc., Galaxy Global Corp. and West Virginia High Technology Consortium, all of Fairmont.

Northrop Grumman's identity management experience includes a fingerprint database system for the United Kingdom's National Policing Improvement Agency and a contract with the U.S. Defense Department for its Automated Biometric Identification System and Biometric Identification System for Access.

An IBM spokeswoman said no further comment was available on Big Blue's proposal or related capabilities.

The bureau describes IAFIS as the largest biometric database in the world, containing fingerprints and corresponding criminal history information for more than 47 million people in the Criminal Master File. The information comes in from state, local and federal law enforcement agencies.

Privacy advocates have raised concerns about expansion of the database and its possible effects on privacy and identity security.

In addition, there have been recent media reports in the United Kingdom and elsewhere about FBI plans to expand the new biometric database on international criminals to be shared by global partners, referring to it as a server in the sky. FBI officials did not respond to a request for comment on those reports.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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