NIST clarifies PIV biometric specs

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has revised the technical specifications for biometric data to be used on Personal Identity Verification cards that agencies are expected to begin issuing next month.

A draft of Special Publication 800-76-1, titled Biometric Data Specification for Personal Identity Verification, has been released for public comment. The revision corrects some editorial mistakes and reorganizes some information in the original publication, released in February, and also clarifies some technical issues.

Issuance of interoperable PIV cards was mandated by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12, and NIST has been charged with developing standards and specifications for the required technology. SP 800-76 sets out specifications for biometric components of Federal Information Processing Standard 201, the overarching standard for the cards.

'It describes technical acquisition and formatting specifications for the biometric credentials of the PIV system, including the PIV card itself,' the document says. 'It enumerates procedures and formats for fingerprints and facial images by restricting values and practices included generically in published biometric standards.'

Significant changes include the addition of information from NIST minutia exchange tests completed in March in Section 7, 'Performance testing and certification procedures.' It also clarifies requirements for acquiring fingerprint impressions.

Comments should be submitted by the close of business Oct. 5 to [email protected], with 'comments on public draft SP 800-76-1' in the subject line. Comments also can be made using the template available here.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


  • business meeting (Monkey Business Images/

    Civic tech volunteers help states with legacy systems

    As COVID-19 exposed vulnerabilities in state and local government IT systems, the newly formed U.S. Digital Response stepped in to help. Its successes offer insight into existing barriers and the future of the civic tech movement.

  • data analytics (

    More visible data helps drive DOD decision-making

    CDOs in the Defense Department are opening up their data to take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that help surface insights and improve decision-making.

Stay Connected