recommended reading

DHS Taps Contractors to Continue Supplying Biometric IDs

Mark J. Terrill/AP file photo

This article has been updated.

The Homeland Security Department will extend for another year contracts with Deloitte and XTec for the production of biometric employee badges, while it reevaluates a $103 million award to HP for developing iris and facial recognition credentials. 

Last September, HP won a competition to enhance DHS identification cards with advanced verification features, such as scans of the colored part of the eye.

XTec, which had previously provided certain credentialing services, contested the award. The firm argued to the Government Accountability Office that "the agency did not reasonably evaluate proposals," Ralph White, GAO’s managing associate general counsel for procurement law, told Nextgov.  Rather than defend itself against the protest, the agency offered to reassess each candidate.

In the meantime, DHS has decided to pay Deloitte an XTec each an undisclosed amount of money for continuing ID management services through February 2015.

Biometric smartcards, a post-Sept. 11, 2001 governmentwide requirement, are used for entering federal facilities and logging on to government networks. 

XTec’s unique, proprietary software for exchanging identification information “is the most critical service” for the ID card program and “provides services to 245,000 DHS employees and contractors,” DHS officials said in a justification for tapping the company without a competition.

In a separate explanation for directly hiring Deloitte, officials said, "the operational impacts of not awarding a task order will compromise the physical security posture and access to network system (logical access) nationwide.  And, the department noted, "75 DHS security badging locations would immediately stop."

The Deloitte task order covers computers, document scanners, fingerprint scanners, card readers, smart card printers and backdrops "while this re-evaluation and transition (if required),” is conducted, officials said.

The projected date for a new award is late February 2014, they added. 

Deloitte has held a contract for ID workstation support at DHS since September 2011. XTec won the ID data management job in 2009.

The contract with HP was to be a potentially 10-year deal. DHS officials began the search for upgraded biometric technology in May 2013. 

Aspiring contractors had to propose systems that "support future alternative biometric capabilities and standards, specifically such as facial recognition, iris capture, storage and matching," according to technical specifications.  

Before the bidding started, there had been no compatible means of exchanging eye images between cameras and card readers. Now there is. In July, the National Institute of Standards and Technology finalized guidelines for incorporating iris scans into personnel badges.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.