DHS hires fingerprint expertise

The Homeland Security Department has awarded a one-year contract to DigitalNet Government Solutions to bring its expertise to analyzing the fingerprints of suspected terrorists and others who may be on a government watch list.

The agency used a GSA schedule to award the contract to the Herndon, Va.-based company. DigitalNet will provide analysis to DHS' Biometrics Support Center, which is part of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Immigration officials are planning to require biometric identifiers, most likely fingerprints, for foreigners entering the United States by the end of this year under a program called US-VISIT. Fingerprint technology is also being studied for use in gaining access to government buildings and to embed in U.S. passports.

Under terms of the contract, DigtalNet will help DHS respond quickly in comparing fingerprints. The value of the contract depends on how many fingerprint records will be analyzed in the coming year, according to Gina Abate, DigitalNet's vice president.

"Examiners must fully understand the effects on fingerprints of varying amounts of pressure, scarring, dirt and grease," she said. "Examiners must have a good understanding of other fingerprint identification systems, particularly the FBI's."

Under the program, the Biometrics Support Center stores fingerprints and other biographical information in databases.

DigitalNet will help the government support its lookout database enrollment, alert Database enrollment, biometric identification verification services and the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System.

"The Department of Homeland Security is excited to be working with DigitalNet in its award of the operations of the Biometrics Support Center," said John Latta, DHS' biometric portfolio manager. "The BSC is a very mission-critical task that provides law enforcement officers of DHS with the timely information necessary to complete their job."

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