The FBI yesterday announced the award of a $1 billion, 10-year contract to Lockheed Martin to develop the world’s largest crime-fighting computer database of biometric information, including fingerprints, palm prints, iris patterns, and face images, the Washington Post reports. Under its contract to build Next Generation Identification, the contractor will expand on the FBI’s electronic database of 55 million sets of fingerprints and criminal histories used by law enforcement and other authorities. The aim is to make process quicker, more flexible, and more accurate.
Lockheed built and maintains the fingerprint database. “NGI will give us bigger, better, faster capabilities and lead us into the future,” said Thomas E. Bush III, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division. The system will not expand the categories of people whose prints are collected: known criminals, known or suspected terrorists, or foreign visitors to the U.S. who have been convicted of a crime or an immigration violation. Additional types of biometric data, such as iris scans and face images, will be collected from criminals and terrorists. The system also houses 17 million civilian fingerprints, mostly of federal employees who have undergone background checks. Lockheed will conduct “biometric bake-offs” to evaluate the work of biometric firms who will be competing to develop various elements of the system and the maturity of the technologies. It will first expand the FBI’s fingerprint processing capability and add palm print processing capability.