If you think the FBI has a large fingerprint database now, wait until Lockheed Martin Corp. completes work on a $1 billion contract that would double the existing file of 46 million fingerprint sets and include the newest biometric-identification techniques. It's enough to make special agents Mulder and Scully think about plunging back into the bureau's X-files.
Lockheed won the 10-year contract in February to design and build the FBI's Next Generation Identification system. NGI will update and expand the bureau's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), an advanced database when it was created in 1999.
But initial work on NGI was halted when IBM Corp. filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office over the decision to award the contract to Lockheed Martin.
Last month, shortly before GAO was scheduled to issue its ruling, IBM withdrew its protest, and Big Blue joined the Lockheed Martin team to develop and run the NGI multimodal biometrics system, which will be used by state, local and federal law enforcement authorities. Neither company was willing to offer details of the agreement.
"We don't talk about protest resolution, [but] we're delighted it was resolved," said Judy Marks, president of Lockheed Martin Transportation and Security Solutions. "The role they've been given is a great role for IBM. Most importantly, while we're pleased to have them on the team, it did not take away from any of the commitments that we have made to the subcontractors and teammates who've been with us for a couple of years."
The brief stoppage will not delay the original target completion date of 2017, she said. "IBM and Lockheed Martin have a strong history of collaborating in the federal community," Dave Amoriell, general manager at IBM Global Services Federal, said in a statement.
There appear to be more protests these days, and the process to resolve them is expensive and time-consuming, said Bob Dinkel, president and chief operating officer at FedResults, a government marketplace consulting firm. "It makes a lot of sense if it's only two firms butting heads to come to some kind of settlement," he added. "It tends to be a win-win for all parties involved."
"There are other cases that we've been involved in that have resolved themselves in the same way," said Bill Walsh, senior partner at law firm Venable LLP. "The dollars at risk are enormous, and the GAO sustain rate is at an all-time high. Under those circumstances, a subcontract arrangement will put a smile on the federal customer. In today's environment, these types of arrangements are encouraged." Walsh said he couldn't say whether resolving contract disputes by the parties involved is a trend in the federal marketplace. "It needs to be watched, but it's something that is in vogue today and may well turn into a trend."
Revising and updating the work schedule to include the brief hiatus is the task at hand, said Barbara Humpton, NGI program director at Lockheed Martin. "The most important thing to do in project management is to maintain a very solid plan, and we and the FBI are updating the baseline plan" created at the end of 2007.