ATF eyes sole-source extension on ballistics database contract

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is moving toward a sole-source extension on its contract with Ultra Forensic Technology Inc. for services to maintain a national ballistics information database used by federal law enforcement agencies.

ATK intends to issue a new potential five-year, $159.2 million contract to the company for continued support of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, ATF disclosed in a July 27 justification and approval notice on FedBizOpps.

The current contract with Ultra Forensic Technology -- a subsidiary of British company Ultra Electronics -- expires on Oct. 15 of this year. ATF is citing the business' status as maker of the underlying proprietary software and equipment as why it must proceed with a sole-source extension, according to the notice.

NIBIN is an ATF-run nationwide computer network that contains digital images of recovered ballistics that law enforcement officials use to determine if any pieces came from a firearm previously used in a crime. The network runs on the Integrated Ballistic Identification System manufactured by Ultra Forensic Technology in 1991.

Federal, state, local and international law enforcement agencies use the network in an effort to compare ballistics data, generate matches and link criminal investigative cases together.

The NIBIN network was created through a combination of two other ballistics databases in 1999. ATF was allocated $8.9 million to support the network in the White House's fiscal year 2019 budget proposal.

ATF posted a request for information on April 3 to start the process of a re-compete for the NIBIN contract but stated the "proposed solution must be a commercial off-the-shelf solution and must be non-developmental in nature, with the ability to mesh seamlessly with the existing NIBIN framework," the J&A notice says.

Eight vendors responded but ATF determined only Ultra Forensic Technology was able to demonstrate the ability to satisfy all the requirements, the agency said.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also connect with him on LinkedIn.

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