Department of Homeland Security Looking for $25 Million for Biometric System Upgrade

A government funding bill that becomes effective in 2015 could include more than $25 million for upgrades and enhancements to the US Department of Homeland Security’s Automated Biometric Identification System, otherwise known as IDENT. The Federal Times reported this week that it is indeed likely that the bill will go into effect, and that the funding for IDENT will be approved.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of Homeland Security initially passed Bill S.2534 in early summer of 2014. Since that time, however, the committee has not taken any additional action in one direction or another regarding the bill.

Included in S. 2534 is nearly $250 million for the Department’s Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM) which itself is one element in an overall enhancement plan that has more than $47 billion set aside for a total DHS makeover.

The OBIM has put in a request for the $250 million as it is currently operating $2.5 million under budget. Because of the shortfall, the office only has enough money to acquire about half of the equipment and resources it needs. According to a report published by the subcommittee, the OBIM is in need of several 10-print biometric matching devices and is “encouraged to apply any cost savings during the fiscal year” to its plans for upgrading and modernization.

Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security has also been encouraged by the subcommittee to collaborate with the State, Justice, and Defense Departments to establish standards for the distribution of biometric information through the utilization of the matching devices.

Biometrics monitoring devices were first used by Customs and Border Protection, which is now a division of the DHS. The CBP used the devices to monitor foreign nationals who were coming into the United States as well as to prevent individuals from overstaying their visas.