Follow-up Review of the FBI’s Progress Toward Biometric Interoperability Between IAFIS and IDENT

Evaluation and Inspections Report I-2006-007
July 2006
Office of the Inspector General

Purpose, Scope, and Methodology


The OIG conducted this review as a follow-up to our December 2004 report. This review assessed the current status of the FBI’s efforts in working with the DHS and other agencies to achieve biometric interoperability among its IAFIS and the DHS’s IDENT and US‑VISIT systems, and the actions taken by the FBI to implement the recommendations contained in our December 2004 report. Specifically, this review assessed the:

  • Progress made by the FBI and the Department in working with the DHS and other agencies toward achieving biometric interoperability among IAFIS, IDENT, and US-VISIT;

  • FBI’s and the DHS’s planned actions for achieving full interoperability; and

  • Measures taken by the FBI in the interim, before full interoperability is achieved, to lessen the risk that criminal aliens and terrorists could enter the United States undetected.


The scope of this review included actions taken by the FBI, DHS, and DOS related to achieving interoperability among IAFIS, IDENT, and US-VISIT; the steps taken by the FBI to implement its plans for a next version of IAFIS that are relevant to achieving interoperability; and the DHS’s plans to modify IDENT and US‑VISIT to process 10 flat fingerprints.47 Our fieldwork for this review was completed in June 2006. Because of the dynamic nature of the project, the details described in this report may change before the interoperability project is completed.


Our fieldwork consisted of interviews as well as documentation review and analysis.

Interviews. To understand each agency’s perspective and role in establishing biometric interoperability, we interviewed officials from the Department, DHS, DOS, and NIST.

Interviews with Department personnel. From the Office of the Chief Information Officer, we interviewed the Special Assistant to the CIO and two Senior Program Analysts. From the Justice Management Division, we interviewed IDENT/IAFIS Program Managers and the Acting Program Manager for the Joint Automated Booking System Program Management Office. From the National Institute of Justice, we interviewed a Senior Program Manager in the Research and Technology Development Division. From the FBI’s CJIS Division, we interviewed the Deputy Assistant Director, Operations Branch; two Section Chiefs; a Unit Chief; Program Managers and other officials from the Next Generation Identification and Biometric Interoperability Program Offices; and a Senior Computer Engineer.

Interviews with DHS personnel. From the US‑VISIT Program Management Office, we interviewed the Director, Deputy Director, Chief Information Officer, and several key officials assigned to Mission Operations and the Office of the Chief Strategist. From CBP, we interviewed two Program Managers from the Office of Field Operations and an Assistant Chief from the Office of Border Patrol.

Interviews with DOS personnel. From the DOS, we interviewed the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services and a member of the Office of Information Management and Liaison.

Interviews with NIST personnel. From the NIST’s Information Access Division, we interviewed the chief scientist with principal responsibility for biometrics research and two of his colleagues.

Document review. To determine the FBI’s progress toward achieving biometric interoperability of IAFIS with IDENT, we reviewed and analyzed numerous documents, including a 2005 status update from the Department to Congress; recent congressional testimony and reports; interoperability performance measures; drafts of several interagency (FBI, DHS, and DOS) planning documents; interagency correspondence and working group agendas; IAFIS data on capacity, availability, and workload; Department and DHS plans for the following: the Next Generation Identification initiative, the interim Data Sharing Model, the Fast Capture Finger/Palm Print program, and the US‑VISIT transition to 10 fingerprints; and standard operating procedures for the Offices of Border Patrol and Field Operations.

  1. Because the scope involved issues beyond the Department, including issues within the DHS, we coordinated with the DHS’s Office of Inspector General during this review.

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