By Calvin Biesecker

The Army’s Biometrics Task Force (BTF) last month selected 12 firms to compete for up to $497 million in service work and even hardware over the next five years under a single contract vehicle in an attempt to bring a more centralized focus defense biometric acquisition efforts.

The 12 firms that will compete for task orders under the Biometrics Operations and Support Services Unrestricted (BOSS-U) contract are American Systems Corp., Booz Allen Hamilton, which is part of The Carlyle Group, CACI International [CAI], Cogent Systems [COGT], Computer Sciences Corp. [CSC], Hewlett Packard‘s [HPQ] Electronic Data Systems business unit, Ideal Innovations, Inc. (I3), Lockheed Martin [LMT], Northrop Grumman [NOC], Raytheon [RTN], SAIC [SAI] and Telos Corp. The contract has a three-year base period and two one-year options.

The BOSS-U vehicle “centralizes overarching organization responsibility for managing program requirements, budgeting and funding, and execution of contractual actions,” the BTF said in a response to queries. The contract also “standardizes policies and procedures for management of acquisition activities, streamlines the contract and task order acquisition cycle, provides a broad based contract vehicle that encompasses all projected requirements, and eliminates external coordination and fees associated with the use of other indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity or Government-wide Acquisition Contracts vehicles.”

Eventually the hope is for everyone in the Defense Department to come under BOSS-U, Jerry Jackson, senior program manager for Defense Biometrics at Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Services segment, told Defense Daily this week.

No task orders have been issued yet but industry officials expect orders to begin flowing shortly. None of these officials has an idea as to the potential value of any immediate orders and some said to expect a lot of small awards for subject matter experts for relatively short-term contracts.

The BTF said that task orders that can be expected in the “coming months include procurement of the supplies and services needed to support” its operations. Other task orders envisioned include support of associated biometrics programs and projects, it said.

The BTF pointed out that BOSS-U is “primarily as services contract with the capacity to procure hardware in support of mission needs as required.”

Work under the new contract is divided into six functional service categories: Management Support Services; Infrastructure Procurement Design, Development & Integration; Operations and Maintenance; Advanced Technology Demonstration; Studies and Analysis; and Test and Evaluation. Under those six categories are a combined 72 sub-categories.

The BTF has already won praise from industry and military officials for gaining better oversight of the various defense biometrics programs ongoing within the Defense Department. The use of biometrics within DoD received a tremendous boost with the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as a way to begin denying anonymity to terrorists and insurgents.

Some of the companies that were selected to compete under BOSS-U already support the BTF and other Army offices and defense agencies on their biometrics efforts. Some of these companies expect that work to eventually be recompeted under BOSS-U. On the other hand Lockheed Martin, which has supported the DoD in the past with the original development of a fingerprint database, will be competing to work its way back into the defense biometrics market.

Northrop Grumman, which unseated Lockheed Martin for the development of the next generation database called Automated Biometric Identification System, is getting ready with the Army to go live with the improved biometric matching system (Defense Daily, Jan. 23, 2007). The next-generation system will feature the ability to match against other biometric modes such as iris images.