FORT BELVOIR, Va.—Cost effective solutions with an emphasis on affordability will be crucial in two forthcoming acquisitions of a biometric information system and tactical devices that in themselves will help mark the transition of biometrics from an urgent need for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to an enduring capability, officials from the Army Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS) stressed at an industry day here on Tuesday.

In a tight funding environment the Defense Department is looking for the “sweet spot” in requirements that provide more capability than existing systems but that are also cost-effective, Doug Wiltsie, the PEO EIS said at an Information Exchange Day to relate the latest plans for the biometrics acquisitions and set the stage for additional industry feedback. “Affordability is key” in these acquisition programs, said Col. Sandy Vann-Olejasz, the Project Manager (PM) for DoD Biometrics.

The systems fielded during the past 10 years are referred to as the Quick Reaction Capability, meaning the Pentagon quickly fielded systems which didn’t go through the traditional acquisition processes. Despite the drawdown of U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, the various biometric systems that were rapidly acquired and fielded are still in use and are still critical to the warfighter mission.

One of the challenges going forward with new acquisition programs in the works for biometric is balancing the sustainment of the fielded capabilities while designing requirements for new systems and putting funding behind them, says Vann-Olejasz. The equation includes how much funding goes toward each and what are the timelines for continued support versus new acquisitions, she says.

About 80 percent of the funding for the Quick Reaction Capabilities has come from budgets for Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, the new biometric programs will be competing for funding within the traditional Defense Department budgeting process.

The two upcoming acquisition programs include a major upgrade to the existing authoritative biometrics database, called the Next Generation Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), which was developed and delivered by Northrop Grumman [NOC] after it beat incumbent Lockheed Martin [LMT]. The upgraded capability for the ABIS system that PM Biometrics is gearing toward is called Biometric Enabling Capabilities (BEC) Increment 1.

The other key acquisition is the Joint Personnel Identification version 2 (JPIv2), which as of now is envisioned to be two tactical biometric collection devices that would replace existing devices used by the Army, Navy and Special Operations Command. The portable device would be lighter weight and be carried by soldiers at the tactical level and the other system is the mobile device, which would be a little larger and would include some peripheral attachments such as readers for palm and 10-print capture and a stand alone camera for a more robust capability while still being man-portable in a carrying case.

If one system can perform the various missions desired of the portable and mobile devices then that option will be considered, says Vann-Olejasz.

Army officials presented notional acquisition schedules for the BEC Increment 1 and JPIv2 programs but a clearer path forward for both systems will begin to come into view early this fall once the Joint Requirements Oversight Council completes the Capability Development Documents (CDD) for the respective systems. The CDD for each program essentially lays out their threshold requirements and performance attributes.

The funding needs for the two programs will also become clearer once the CDDs are signed off on, Vann-Olejasz tells HSR.

BEC Plans

The current ABIS system stores finger and palm prints, facial images, and iris images of known and suspected terrorists and insurgents but is nearing its peak capacity of a little more than 10 million records. The system has been undergoing a hardware and software technology refresh, which is slated to go live in August as DoD ABIS 1.2, to expand its capacity to 18 million records while increasing daily transactions to 30,000 searchers versus the current limitation of between 12,000 and 15,000, says Lt. Col. Eric Pavlick, the product manager for BEC.

Once DoD ABIS 1.2 is live and goes through end-to-end testing, the program will go to the Army for a full deployment decision, which is expected during FY ’14. If the full deployment is approved, then the capability will transition into the sustainment phase and become the BEC Increment 0, which is expected to reach its maximum capacity by the end of FY ’17, says Pavlick.

Pavlick says that as requirements for more automated interoperability evolve for sharing the data in BEC with partners such as the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, they can begin to be supported with BEC Increment 0. While requirements for BEC Increment 1 are still being drafted, they are expected to call for more seamless exchange of data between the FBI, DHS and other external agencies and international partners.

Increment 1 is expected to handle 50 million enrollments with scalability to 100 million, and have throughput of 45,000 submissions daily with the ability to scale to 160,000.

Under the notional schedule for BEC Increment 1, a Request for Proposal (RFP) would be released in the fourth quarter of FY ’14 for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase with an award planned in the third quarter of FY ’15. The system would achieve initial operating capability in the second quarter of FY ’17 and full operating capability a year later.

One of Pavlick’s briefing slides says that “schedule is the key driver to ensure availability of the authoritative DoD biometrics repository.”

The Increment 1 effort is also expected to see the transition from the current blade server architecture used to house the data repository operated by the Biometrics Identity Management Agency in West, Va., to a platform-as-a-service model that would be managed by either an existing government data center or a private computer network cloud provider. The Army would still select a software system integrator, similar to the way Northrop Grumman performs its role in the NG ABIS program.

Pavlick expects to release a Request for Information in August to gather additional input from industry based on the information provided by PM Biometrics at the Information Exchange.

JPIv2 Plans

Based on market surveys and industry inputs so far, the current plan for JPIv2 envisioned by PM Biometrics is for a non-developmental approach to the hardware and software for the system. If industry is capable of providing a commercial-off-the-shelf solution, that means at contract award the program could go right into initial production and deployment.

The notional acquisition schedule for the system shows release of a draft RFP in the fourth quarter of FY ’14 followed by release of the RFP in the first quarter of FY ’15. The initial contract award would be in the third quarter of FY ’15.

As with currently fielded systems, the JPIv2 would be used to collect, match and store biometric data as well as related contextual data. The systems are also expected to require the ability to link directly over communications networks for access to the BEC.

Initial procurement plans call for acquiring 4,841 portable JPIv2 devices and 823 mobile devices, says Lt. Col. Jackie Barnes, the product manager for the JPI program. The timeframe for users wanting their systems begins in the FY ’16 to FY ’18 period, she says.

The procurement goal is for a turnkey solution, Barnes says, which includes product delivery and sustainment.

Some of the key JPIv2 requirements that are firming up include an extended battery life, matching speeds of less than two minutes for fingerprints and 15 seconds for irises for onboard databases of 100,000 identities for the portable device, and less than five minutes for fingerprints and 35 seconds for irises for onboard databases of 450,000 identities for the mobile device. The mobile device would also be able to collect voice samples.

The portable device is expected to weigh less than 3.6 pounds and the mobile device less than 10 pounds.

Over the years, the Army has acquired the Biometric Automated Toolset, a program that is currently managed by GTSI Corp., a business of UNICOM Global, the handheld tactical collection device HIIDE, which was supplied by Safran Group’s MorphoTrak business, a replacement of HIIDE supplied by Cross Match Technologies called the SEEK II, and the Biometric Identification System for Access.

The Navy also uses the SEEK II for its Identity Dominance System (IDS) as does SOCOM for its Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE) system. Cross Match also provides the software for the IDS system while Aware, Inc. [AWRE] provides the software for use with the SSE.