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Military, spy contracts for biometric systems have caught the industry eye

Military, spy contracts for biometric systems have caught the industry eye

A pair of biometrics and identity vendors have announced organizational changes they hope will bring them sensitive and classified contracts with the U.S. federal government.

The vendors are divisions of Japanese-owned NEC Corp. of America and France’s Idemia.

NEC America executives claim they are nearing the end of an 18-month process to earn foreign ownership, control or influence (FOCI) mitigation clearance for their National Security Systems unit.

As a foreign-owned company, NEC has to win special approval to even bid on biometrics-related military and intelligence contracts.

The regulatory hoop exists to minimize the risk that foreign nations will use classified information, materials or products in ways that are detrimental to the United States.

In an interview (subscription) with Defense Daily, National Security Systems’ president, Kathleen Kiernan, said, “There is going to be a lot more classified work.”

Kiernan says she is going to focus on two areas, one of which will be biometrics and identity. The other area will be AI and machine learning. There is very little doubt that she is exaggerating the amount of business in these areas that the U.S. military and intelligence agencies will be sending out for contract.

Kiernan told Defense Daily that her 32-person unit is able to add computer vision, advanced analytics and digital trust expertise to government work, too. NEC NSS is also hiring, she says.

Idemia, which has already achieved FOCI-mitigation status, also has a relatively new National Security Solutions unit. This week, it announced three new vice presidents, each of whom will work on their own slice of federal biometrics and identity business.

Sandra Joyner Williams has been hired to lead Defense Department and intel community operations for Idemia NSS. Marg Schulenberg was promoted to lead security and business operations.

Mike Ronayne, vice president of federal civilian operations for the unit, will bid on contracts for physical, digital and biometrics systems and electronic credentials.

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