FBI official: Biometrics not ready for large-scale uses

Agencies are not yet ready to deploy biometrics on a large scale, an FBI IT official said, and projects like the agency's own U.S. Border Control Entry and Exit System have a long way to go.

'Biometric identification is not a technology that is applicable on an agencywide basis,' Selena Hutchinson, the FBI's acting deputy CIO, said in an interview.

The FBI has been using fingerprint indicia for the past decade to identify criminals and do background checks on its own employees with its Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). The Defense Department is considering using biometrics for its Common Access Cards.

'In all cases, biometrics are used in context of the mission and not agencywide,' Hutchinson said.

She said agencies can learn from some of her own challenges implementing and using IAFIS. 'The implementation of biometrics technology in the context of large-scale identification systems is a very complex task that requires the development of new business processes that must meet often contradictory requirements,' Hutchinson said.

Agencies must work together, continue to investigate vendors' products'and stick with fingerprints. Fingerprint technology is the only biometric used on a large scale, she said.

'The processes must provide security, rapid processing, minimal impediment to travel, be socially acceptable, and meet legal and international treaty requirements,' she said.

At a biometrics conference in Arlington, Va., in September, Hutchinson said that new systems already impose complex operational requirements making user cooperation an integral part of the system's success.

'The development of these business processes requires careful analysis and planning,' she said.

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