The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday as expected approved a decision milestone allowing the Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM) to solicit industry for a solution for a multimodal biometric storage and matching system to replace its current IDENT fingerprint-based database.

The decision at the DHS Acquisition Review Board was made by Chip Fulghum, the deputy undersecretary for management and chief financial officer at DHS.DHS Logo DHS

The Request for Proposals for the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) system is expected to be issued shortly pending final legal reviews, a DHS official told Defense Daily.

The HART contract will be open to vendors who have been awarded contracts under Functional Category 1 of the DHS EAGLE II information technology products and services contract. While there are dozens of contractors in this category eligible to compete, only large scale systems integrators are expected to be in the hunt for the HART prime contract.

The forthcoming RFP is for HART Increments 1 and 2 with the second increment being an optional task order. The first increment will last about 18 months to complete and is expected to take about 18 months to finish and be deployed in 2018, marking initial operational capability of the system.

The first increment will replicate the IDENT system but with better infrastructure and performance, giving HART the ability to continue scaling as demands on the system grow.

The second increment, slated to be deployed in 2019, will allow for face and iris storage, matching and sharing capabilities to scale up. This increment will also provide the infrastructure for additional biometric modalities based on user requirements. Modalities under consideration by DHS components include DNA, palm prints, voice recognition, signatures, and scars, marks and tattoos.

Increment two will also have a multimodal fusion capability to improve the likelihood of a match by using more than one biometric modality.

OBIM’s plans call for rounding out HART with two additional increments, three and four, although these are not part of the imminent competition. The third increment will include access to the system through a web portal and provide users with more data, giving them a more holistic view of a subject being queried. Additional biometric modalities could be added during this phase.

In the fourth increment, more modalities could be added and the current candidate verification tool used in IDENT will be replaced. Increment three is slated for deployment in 2020 and Increment four in 2021, at which point full operational capability would be met.

The DHS process for considering HART bids will include use of the department’s Procurement Innovation Lab (PIL). Bidders will make oral presentations to the PIL, which will consider the proposals. The PIL will follow up with each vendor, potentially inviting them to apply for the RFP or even suggesting that they don’t proceed further, a DHS official said.

The IDENT system is 25 years old and costly to maintain. The system currently stores more than 200 unique biometric identities and processes more than 300,000 transactions daily. The system also maintains a 99.7 percent matching accuracy.

OBIM officials say that IDENT is stressed and they expect the number of biometric identities IDENT and eventually HART will store will rise to 220 million next year and 260 million by 2020.