Development of Next-Gen Biometric Identity Management System on Schedule, DHS Officials Say

TAMPA, Fla.—More than six months into the development and acquisition of a next-generation cloud-based biometric storage and matching system for the Department of Homeland Security, the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) effort is holding to schedule, department officials overseeing the program said on Tuesday.

The HART program is still on track to have the first increment delivered, tested and operating in Sept. 2019, which will be the initial operating capability milestone, Dave Grauel, the program manager for HART within the DHS Office of Biometric Identity Management, tells HSR at the annual Federal Identity Forum hosted by AFCEA.

Northrop Grumman [NOC], the prime contractor for HART, recently handed off the first deliverables for Increment 1, and planning is underway for the second set of deliverables, which are expected to be completed in January, Grauel says. The third and final set of deliverables in Increment 1 should be ready next March, he adds.

Once the deliverables are in, the first Increment to HART will undergo an extensive testing regime culminating in the cutover of the system to replace DHS’s existing biometric identity management system, which is called IDENT.

Northrop Grumman won the HART contract last year but an unsuccessful protest by Leidos [LDOS], one of the losing bidders, delayed the start of execution on the contract until March 19 of this year. For Increment 1, the company will migrate the current biometric capabilities of IDENT, including latent fingerprint matching, a new data architecture, and a new system development and testing environment for HART.

The first deliverables, called release one, or Increment 1.1, included the infrastructure in the Amazon Web Services GovCloud, the cloud-based development test environment, and the initial services such as pre-verify requests, verify, identify and notifications, Grauel says. He adds that 1.1 includes the ability to receive, process and route the initial services in the cloud to the subsystems that make up HART for responses to be generated.

The set of deliverables for release two, which is Increment 1.2, are still being defined, Grauel says.

Northrop Grumman is also under contract for Increment 2 of HART, which will include a new biometric fusion capability to provide better outcomes for multimodal biometric search results, and improved business processing workflows. The IDENT system is mostly populated with fingerprint records but also has a growing set of face images and iris images as well.

DHS is also on track to accelerate the second increment, which hasn’t begun yet, by six months, so that it is completed in Sept. 2020, which would mark full operational capability of HART. The program is currently set up to consist of four increments, and the plan is to reopen competition for the HART prime contractor role after Increment 2.

Grauel says in early 2019 he expects OBIM will release a Request for Information to industry to begin help with the planning for the next increment or increments. Patrick Nemeth, director of the Identity Operations Division at OBIM, says data analytics may be a part of future increments.

In future increments, OBIM expects it will deploy new biometric modalities such as voice recognition and even DNA, depending on user needs.

The fingerprint matching capability in IDENT, and at least initially in HART, is supplied by Gemalto and the face and iris recognition matching are supplied by NEC Corp.

In the coming months, OBIM also needs to transfer data from IDENT to HART so that the new system can be extensively tested and be ready to operate next September, Nemeth says.

DHS and Northrop Grumman are using an agile development methodology approach to HART. OBIM officials that are responsible for IDENT and HART are cooperating closely with Northrop Grumman’s team in the development of the new system so that it adapts to user needs throughout the acquisition process.

The IDENT system is about 20 years old and is increasingly expensive to operate and maintain. The system contains more than 237 million unique identities and processes around 350,000 transactions on a typical day. HART is being developed to be able to scale more cost effectively, respond more dynamically, due to the cloud-based environment, to customer needs, and be able to host and match more biometric modalities.

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