DOD plans to recognize more than just fingerprints

The future of biometrics lies beyond fingerprint scanners.

That's the message the new director of the Defense Department's Biometrics Management Office wants to send.

'We're looking for new technologies, innovators and companies that recognize that the biometrics enterprise in the Defense Department and the U.S. government in five years is going to be very different from what we have now,' said Joseph Guzman, who was appointed BMO's acting director Aug. 1.

Guzman, who joined the office in January as director of policy, planning and liaison, replaced John Woodward Jr., who had been director since fall 2003.

The office consolidates and coordinates the use of biometric technologies across the Defense Department. The department uses biometric applications to support warfighters and provide computer network access control and physical access control to facilities.

By 2010, fingerprint scans will no longer be the predominant biometric technology, Guzman said. In response to Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12, the department will employ a greater range of biometrics for access control and information sharing. The office also is involved in developing standards to support information sharing, he said.

BMO runs the Biometric Fusion Center in Clarksburg, W.Va., which tests and evaluates commercially available biometric technologies. Including the center, BMO has a $28 million budget.

Earlier this year, for instance, BMO provided technical assistance for a pilot demonstration using biometrics for the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command, which assesses the physical, mental and moral qualifications of recruits.

BMO partially underwrote another project in 2003 at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Officials installed hand geometry readers to control access to the base at its new rail station entrance. The devices authenticate an individual's identity by using biometric technology to read the shape of a hand, along with personal identification numbers. Recognition Systems Inc. of Campbell, Calif., supplied the biometric readers and Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va., was the integrator on the project.

Now BMO's main challenge is to integrate the various biometrics used in DOD, make them interoperable, and make it easy to collect and share biometric data, Guzman said.

'To optimize the use of the biometrics infrastructure that we have, we really need to refine and develop the information sharing arrangements within the Defense Department and also across to other agencies within the U.S. government,' Guzman said. n

Roseanne Gerin is a staff writer for GCN's sister publication, Washington Technology.

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