NIST finalizes biometric specification for HSPD-12

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has issued the final biometric specifications for Federal Information Processing Standard-201.

Special Publication 800-76 comes about seven weeks after NIST released the draft specification calling for agencies to use minutia as the acceptable way to store fingerprint biometric data on smart cards to meet Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12.

NIST said the document 'describes technical acquisition and formatting specifications for biometric credentials of the PIV system, including the PIV card itself.'

'The final specification helps reduce uncertainty on what the final requirements are, and that is a significant achievement so [that] manufacturers and government people know what they are looking for in products,' said Walter Hamilton, chairman of the International Biometric Industry Association, an industry association in Washington. 'And vendors can now submit products for testing and certification by NIST and the General Services Administration.'

The standard details the procedures and formats for fingerprints and facial images agencies should use on the card.

'The primary design objective behind these particular specifications is high-performance universal interoperability,' NIST said in the document.

Under SP 800-76, agencies can prepare biometric data to be used for FBI background checks. The guidance references American National Standards Institute's Fingerprint Standard and the Electronic Fingerprint Transmission Specification.

Hamilton said NIST addressed many of the IBIA's concerns they outlined in comments about the draft specification.

'In the draft, NIST called out technical specifications for finger sensors and the dimension for the fingerprint read area was too large,' Hamilton said. 'Most in the commercial arena are smaller and we believe they don't need to be as big as NIST had it. It was unreasonable.'

Hamilton added that in the new document it seems that NIST relaxed the requirement by reducing the minimum width of sensor, which satisfies IBIA's concerns.

NIST also will release the Minutia Exchange Test results in March, Hamilton said. Over the past year, NIST has been testing 14 fingerprint matching products to figure out how they conform to INCITS 385 standard. Fingerprint matching systems that pass likely will be recommended to GSA to be put on the approved products list for HSPD-12, Hamilton said.

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