- By Sean Lyngaas
- Nov 30, 2014
With a degree in criminal justice and a passion for biometrics, Larissa Riviezzo began working as a contractor for the Army's Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems several years ago with a simple goal: "Catch the bad guys."
She became a federal employee in 2009, and now as an assistant product manager for biometrics handheld devices, Riviezzo's job is to equip U.S. soldiers with gear to help them tell friend from foe. She works under an Army program called Joint Personnel Identification, which is responsible for the full life cycle of biometric devices, from design to deployment to sustainment.
One such device is the Secure Electronic Enrollment Kit II, which takes fingerprint and iris scans and sends them to an FBI database. U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been using them since 2012.
Resource constraints have given Riviezzo a smaller team to work with over the years, something she said can be both empowering and demanding.
"Obviously, resources are short and everybody wants you to do more with less, so eight hours in a day is typically not enough to accomplish the job," she said, "especially when you have customers who when you're going to bed, they're waking up."
Asked if her career might take her elsewhere in the next few years, Riviezzo said she is right at home where she is.
"Biometrics is kind of my thing," she said. "I really enjoy it, so I'll stay with the program office and maybe eventually go see it from another…agency's perspective. But I was in the Army. My husband's in the Army. I really like supporting the soldier."
Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.
Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.
Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.