The Homeland Security Department is buying $100 million worth of services to issue staff at all agencies smartcards with iris and facial recognition capabilities.
Late Friday, DHS opened the bidding process for a decade-long project to upgrade personnel identification cards that are used to access federal buildings and networks. Following the September 2001 terrorist attacks, Homeland Security Presidential Directive–12, or HSPD-12, mandated biometric IDs for employees governmentwide. But many workers, including 82 percent of DHS computer users, flash the credentials at guards, rather than digital readers, largely because the cards’ electronic components haven’t been activated, according to internal audits.
Now, contractors will replace about 161,924 cards in 2013 and 116,172 cards in 2014, according to contracting documents.
“The present Identity Management System was designed in 2008 and has remained basically unchanged since its inception. New more capable methods are now available that must be evaluated and implemented to move the [ID management] process into compliance,” project plans state.
The work includes “the full range of program management support, engineering services, labor, materials, and equipment” to operate the entire credentialing process, from enrolling employees to synching with card readers on facilities and computers, the contracting papers state. The deal is capped at $99.5 million.
The use of iris recognition is expanding governmentwide. In July 2012, the Obama administration announced plans to embed iris images in all employee ID cards. Meanwhile, DHS and the Justice Department are collecting iris snapshots to identify legitimate travelers as well as track criminal offenders.