Revamping AFIS for the FBI

Lockheed will double FBI fingerprint, biometrics database

Lockheed gave its team members temporary assignments during the protest period to keep them engaged and ready to return quickly to NGI. They've all been called back and are working again on the NGI contract, Humpton said. "We reassembled the team, put them back into those key slots to help re-plan things, and we have them side by side now with their FBI counterparts."

Upgrading the fingerprint files remains the first and most important part of the system because fingerprints remain a critical crimefighting and anti-terrorism tool. Fingerprint identification "is what law enforcement uses. That will not change anytime soon," Marks said. The fingerprint database is targeted to be fully functioning by 2013.


NGI will double the size of the FBI's IAFIS, which is housed in an underground facility in Clarksburg, W.Va. The repository is the largest collection of its kind in the world.

The FBI amassed the collection through voluntary submissions of fingerprints and from criminal collections by state, local and federal law enforcement agencies. Authorized officials can scan IAFIS files for data by submitting a 10-print fingerprint set. Electronic responses are usually available within two hours for criminal cases and 24 hours for civil cases.

"IAFIS has been a fantastic tool in support of criminal justice and the war on terror," said Thomas Bush, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services division. "NGI will give us bigger, better, faster capabilities and lead us into the future."

NGI has a design/build quality to it that is intended to accommodate upgrades and improvements throughout the contract period. If some new biometrics technology becomes available during the ninth year of the contract, it will be incorporated in the system, Marks said. "We don't know ... where we'll be 10 years from now," she said. "That's the real visionary part." She credited the FBI with setting the tone of the project by telling Lockheed Martin, "We know what we know, we know what we can see in the near term, but we're going to figure out the long term together."

The challenge is going to be identifying, evaluating and being able to implement new technologies and the various biometric modalities and using them effectively, Marks added. "Does iris [scanning] help you more? Does facial recognition help you? Does palm [print] help?"

"The framework itself is designed with open standards in mind," Humpton said, citing potential biometric advances. "The concept is to build a framework that enables various modalities to plug and play for the ultimate biometrics interoperability." NGI is being designed with technical flexibility to accommodate future biometrics technologies that could be important aids to law enforcement efforts. "There's a lot of invention going on," she said.

"Our challenge is to understand the state of the possible," Marks said. "Once it's possible to understand, can it be reduced to practice?" The FBI wants to take advantage of the best technologies as they emerge and not get locked into particular products and services, Humpton said. "So what we're bringing forward is a framework that is product-independent, vendor-independent."