Lockheed to build FBI biometrics database

Company edges out Northrop Grumman, IBM for AFIS project


WASHINGTON - The FBI on Tuesday selected Lockheed Martin for a contract worth up to $1 billion to build a database for fingerprints and other biometric information.

Lockheed Martin Corp., which built and maintains the FBI's current 10-fingerprint database, was the expected winner among analysts. Making good on its incumbent status, the U.S.'s largest defense contractor will keep its hands on the Next Generation Identification system contract.

Lockheed Martin's Transportation and Security Solutions branch won the one-year deal valued at about $40 million, but if all nine one-year options are exercised, the contract's value will approach $1 billion. Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin beat out teams led by Northrop Grumman Corp. and International Business Machines Corp.

The deal is a major upgrade to the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System because it allows the agency to more easily share anti-terrorism information with domestic and international partners and may include other identifiers, including palm prints, iris scans and facial recognition.

It also will include data on known criminals and terrorists, as well as information on foreign visitors to the U.S. whose fingerprints and digital photographs were collected under a separate Department of Homeland Security program. The FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services division will operate the new system in Clarksburg, West Virginia, where the current fingerprint database is maintained.

"NGI will give us bigger, better, faster capabilities and lead us into the future," said FBI Assistant Director Thomas E. Bush III. "We have added additional capabilities to our current system and are working with the departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and State and the international law enforcement community in making our communities and nation safer."

Judy Marks, president of Lockheed Martin Transportation and Security Solutions, said the company was "tremendously pleased" to partner with the FBI, supporting it and other stakeholders "with the next quantum leap in capability."

Northrop Grumman is "disappointed" by the decision but looking forward to partnering with the FBI on other projects and to creating partnerships in West Virginia, said Juli Ballesteros, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles-based company said.

A spokeswoman for Armonk, New York-based IBM declined to comment.

Lockheed Martin will be the lead database integrator. But a "biometric bake-off" later this year will allow Cogent Inc., L-1 Identity Solutions Inc., Motorola Inc. and other providers to showcase their systems for possible inclusion in the database, said Stanford Group Co. analyst Jeremy Grant. The facial recognition work could begin early next year, while fingerprint upgrades should start by early 2010, he added.

Privacy advocates say Congress must ensure that the FBI system will not infringe on citizens' rights before the government spends more than a billion dollars on it.

Shares of Lockheed Martin dipped 40 cents to $107.21 Tuesday, while Northrop Grumman fell 7 cents to $79.44 and IBM added $1.39 to $106.53.

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AP Writer Lara Jakes Jordan contributed to this report.