SSA testing biometric tech

The Social Security Administration is considering using biometric technology to help it protect people's Social Security numbers and prevent identity theft.

Three SSA field offices are testing different biometric technology, such as photographs and fingerprints, that the agency could use to tie a person to his or her Social Security number, said William Gray, deputy commissioner for systems at SSA.

The biometric information would be stored in a database — not on the card itself — and would help prevent identity theft, Gray said, speaking March 5 at the Information Processing Interagency Conference in Orlando, Fla.

However, an SSA spokesman said March 8 that a final decision on testing has not been made and pilots have not begun.

SSA is "at the early stages of researching" biometric technology and it has not been put into a "real-world situation," the spokesman said.

The tests will help SSA decide where the use of biometrics is most beneficial, and also help it decide what type of biometric technology works best, Gray said.

If the limited pilot program is successful, it would be used broadly when people apply for Social Security cards, Gray said.

SSA also is looking into what types of Social Security cards would be harder to counterfeit than today's paper cards, Gray said.

This testing process shows SSA's incremental approach to launching services. For instance, it has established an electronic technology center so it can test and evaluate new technology such as biometrics before it rolls it out for testing in a real-life situation, Gray said.

SSA also has a usability center that helps it "design applications that meet users needs," Gray said.

Featured

  • Workforce
    Former vice-president Joe Biden formally launches his 2020 presidential campaign during a rally May 18, 2019, at Eakins Oval in Philadelphia. (Matt Smith Photographer/Shutterstock.com)

    Biden promises to undo Trump’s workforce policies

    Democratic candidate pledges to appropriate permanent funding to feds in case of another shutdown.

  • People
    Federal CIO Suzette Kent

    Federal CIO Kent to exit in July

    During her tenure, Suzette Kent pushed on policies including Trusted Internet Connection, identity management and the creation of the Chief Data Officers Council

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.