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Senate allocates $249 million for biometrics at U.S. border


The U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) yesterday approved funding legislation that totals US$47.2 billion for the 2015 fiscal year, an US$643 million increase above the level enacted in the 2014 fiscal year.

Within this amount, the net discretionary appropriation for the department will be US$39 billion. In total, discretionary appropriations for the DHS have declined by 8.3 percent since fiscal year 2010.

The bill provides US$249 million for the Department’s Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM).

OBIM supports the Department of Homeland Security’s responsibility to protect the U.S. by providing biometric identification services that help federal, state, and local government decision makers accurately identify the people they encounter and determine whether those people pose a risk to the country.

OBIM supplies the technology for collecting and storing biometric data, provides analysis, updates terrorist and other barred entry watch lists, and ensures the integrity of the data. The office actively shares biometric and identity data in real-time between the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense and State in order to monitor who legally enters and exits the U.S..

OBIM was created in March, 2013, replacing the United States Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) and streamlining operations.

The amount granted to OBIM is US$2 million below request and US$22 million above the amount allocated in the 2014 fiscal year.

Some of this money will be used to advance biometric entry-exit transformation through “holistic assessment” of operational processes and an evaluation of a variety of biometric technologies. This will include testing and deploying new biometric technologies while building on existing biographic data collection; and implementing non-intrusive biometric technology that is transparent to the traveler.

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