- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2008

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and IBM are vying for a multibillion-dollar contract to build a database for fingerprints and other biometric information that the FBI is set to award this week.

Lockheed Martin Corp. built and maintains the FBI’s current 10-fingerprint database and some analysts consider the nation’s largest defense contractor the favorite to win the Next Generation Identification system contract, mainly due to its incumbent status.

But because the new system is expected to include other identifiers, including palm prints, iris scans and facial recognition, the teams led by Northrop Grumman Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. remain strong contenders, said Stanford Group Co. analyst Jeremy Grant. Northrop’s team includes BearingPoint Inc., General Dynamics Corp. and Raytheon Co.

An FBI spokesman yesterday said the contract is expected to be awarded this week but would not disclose its financial or other terms.

The deal is viewed as a major upgrade to the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System and should help the agency more easily share data supporting anti-terrorism efforts with domestic government offices and international partners. It will include data on known criminals and terrorists, as well as information on foreign visitors to the United States whose fingerprints and digital photographs were collected under a separate Department of Homeland Security program that monitors people entering the country via air, land and sea.

Privacy advocates, however, say Congress must ensure the FBI system will not infringe on citizens’ rights before the government spends more than a billion dollars on it.

“This system is not ready for prime time,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “Congress must ask tough questions about the impact on the privacy rights of Americans.”

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