FEMA seeks better way to identify disaster survivors

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is searching for a better way to verify the identity of disaster survivors than relying on residency information, Nextgov reports.

FEMA has announced a solicitation will be issued for an individual identity verification and authentication support service capable of quickly identifying an individual by a range of different factors.

A draft performance work statement says the system should be able to handle 750,000 concurrent users and 25,000 transactions per hour to support the dispersal of aid while reducing the amount of relief fraudulently claimed. The system is proposed to include relevant biographical information, and a one-time password for the beneficiary.

“Outcome results, either pass/fail with reason codes, or equivalent system, must be the highest possible [assurance level] for a victim to be granted service, but the fastest obtainable for FEMA to make a decision to grant services,” according to the document.

FEMA says it requires “near-perfect performance” from the system, including a 99 percent initial identity verification rate and a subsequent 95 percent accuracy rate for authentication.
Biometrics are not specifically referred to in the work statement, it is worth noting that the identity of FEMA contractors will already be verified with fingerprint cards.

Officials said that FEMA would prefer a commercial off-the-shelf tool to a custom application, according to Nextgov, and the contract will run for a year, followed by four one-year options. The full solicitation is expected to be published on November 1, and the expected due date for bids is November 15.

Dedicated infrastructure provider FirstNet pitched its priority network, which is capable of supporting the data needs of advanced biometrics, to CBP earlier this year to ensure communication between police and first responders in the event of a disaster.

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