Identity Strategy Partners issues statement on Homeland Security RFP

Mark Crego, a partner at Identity Strategy Partners, issued a statement yesterday supporting the modernization of biometric identity management technology at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In his statement, the former chief architect of DHS’s biometric ID system noted that: “[t]he current DHS identity management system was designed to house up to 200 million people’s fingerprints, and support up to 250,000 identification transactions per day. Today the system has over 240 million identities and is conducting over 300,000 transactions per day, while simultaneously adding in face and iris biometric matching technologies.

“The fact that [the Office of Biometric Identity Management] OBIM is maintaining operations despite having exceeded its original architecture is a testament to the prowess of OBIM. However, with facilitation and security demands ever increasing, volume increasing, and biometric front-end and software matching solutions having evolved and improved dramatically over the past decade, DHS must upgrade how the system manages and makes identity determinations that include face, iris and fingerprints simultaneously while scaling to at least 500 million identities in its database. In addition, the system must support at least 500,000 daily transactions, most in less than 10 seconds, to support border processing.”

The statement notes that: “While OBIM’s modernization takes on new importance with President Trump’s focus on identity vetting in the immigration and law enforcement context, the importance of identity vetting across government functions is established policy. Congressional appropriators in March 2013 echoed a similar value proposition for OBIM when they changed the name of the program office from US-VISIT to OBIM, assuring that the nation was aware that the program’s value was no longer just to service visitors to the United States, but the entire U.S. security community.”

Crego’s statement was issued as commentary on the recent request for proposal released by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM) to replace US-VISIT/IDENT biometrics system with new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART).

He points out that “[w]hile the RFP’s timing is somewhat ironic in light of the President Trump’s call for enhanced vetting procedures, it is purely coincidental. The original RFP was slated for May 2016. Delays resulted in the February 2017 release.”

Crego noted: “OBIM’s modernization, which is already highly complex identity management system, must be done right to serve its 48 current (and growing) customers, protect privacy, and assure against cyber attacks. Moreover, the implementation of biometric exit will markedly increase the number of daily identity transactions, further complicating the challenge to a system that is now 12 years old and in dire need of the modernization represented by this RFP.”

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