The Planning Committee created the FedID awards program to recognize individuals and/or teams that have substantially contributed to the advancement of the federal government’s identity capabilities, practices, and education.
Best Technical Advancement
An individual or team that has created new capabilities or discovered limitations that will profoundly impact the federal government’s future identity capabilities or practices.
Finalist 3: Technical Team, National Vetting Center
Since September 11, 2001, agencies have sought to improve how they leverage sensitive intelligence and law enforcement information when vetting for homeland and national security missions. However, these processes were often bilateral, did not occur in real time, and were not adaptable for an all-threats landscape. The National Vetting Center (NVC) provides a single coordinating entity and platform to address these issues, ensuring that adjudicators receive national security partner vetting support in a timely manner. The NVC’s technology platform streamlines the transfer of unclassified applicant information to classified environments, where it is compared against information held by national security partners, and provides responses back to the NVC for use by vetting analysts. For the first time ever, the NVC provides adjudicators with a single picture of all the “dots” of sensitive information to evaluate as a whole before making an adjudication decision.
The NVC’s success lies in the rapid technological advances to develop a cross-domain, multiagency platform. In less than six months, using Commercial Cloud Services (C2S) services, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis designed, built, and deployed a common technology platform and process to support the NVC. This platform allows for a comprehensive review of relevant information to support adjudications. The NVC’s system was DHS’ first C2S environment to be fully deployed and operational, successfully integrating multiple cloud environments across the Intelligence Community (IC), including other agencies’ C2S environments and the National Security Agency’s IC-GovCloud. The NVC deals with high volumes of multiple streaming data sets that are routed through various architectural components to be processed, stored, and shared on the high-side network. DHS built and deployed redundant cross-domain solutions to deliver applications across fabrics to be routed for vetting support. DHS receives vetting results from multiple national security partners, which traverse across C2S environments. The NVC technology platform enables high-to-low responses to be delivered to vetting systems for automatic integration with unclassified vetting workflows within minutes from the application having been submitted for vetting. Prior to the NVC, there were independent systems for each national security partner, some taking hours or days to supply vetting responses. The use of C2S services allows the NVC to easily scale up to meet increased load during holidays or other high travel periods.
Over the past 12 months, DHS I&A has matured its technical solutions to include establishing a DevOps process that will allow for continuous integration/continuous delivery. The team also worked with the NVC and its customers to improve the user experience, resulting in updated design and workflow. The updated application also included backend enhancements built on micro services improving system performance, resiliency and redundancy. Further, they implemented Amazons auto-scaling group capability which provides the NVC with a more cost-efficient solution that meets its evolving mission demands.
The NVC demonstrated the ability to drive interagency technical integration across more than six federal agencies. Additionally, the NVC’s technical innovation has further advanced the identity intelligence mission – providing new analytical and operational insights as well as new technical capabilities that can be applied to support other mission use cases. In addition to developing a capability to transmit tens of thousands of vetting requests across domains and between C2S environments, DHS designed and built the NVC’s flagship workflow management tool, allowing vetting responses to be centralized for analysts’ quick review. Currently, NVC technology supports the near real-time screening of approximately 40,000 applicants per day. The NVC enables rapid review of Electronic System for Travel Authorization applications. As national security partners provide responses to the NVC, new identity information and connections are automatically disseminated back to the national security community, consistent with law and policy requirements.
Best Operational Success
An individual or team that has implemented new technology or practices and/or influenced legislation, regulation or policy in the federal identity community resulting in qualitative or quantitative success.
Finalist 3: CBP Entry/Exit Team (DHS)
DHS/Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has a complex, multifaceted mission to manage and secure the border from criminal and terrorist threats while facilitating legitimate travel and trade and ensuring the vitality of the U.S. economy.
In 2013, CBP received the long-standing security mandate to biometrically record the entry and exit of foreign nationals from the United States at air, land, and sea ports of entry. While US Visitor and Immigration Status Indication Technology successfully implemented biometric entry at airports beginning in 2004, the biometric exit mandate has been a major challenge, given that airports were not built with the infrastructure to manage departure control; domestic and international flights are commingled; and it would take considerable resources to staff every exit location. In addition, the air travel industry regarded biometric exit as a government mandate, emphasizing that airlines and airports should not bear the cost. Years of testing have demonstrated that biometric facial comparison technology is the most secure, efficient, and cost-effective way to fulfill the congressional mandate while protecting the privacy of all travelers. Everyone knows how to take a photo, and it is a simple and efficient process.
Beyond just meeting the biometric exit mandate, CBP’s leadership had a vision to innovate the entire travel journey through face recognition. The air travel industry had started to develop its own modernization plans that aligned with CBP’s use of biometric technology. Eventually, it opened the opportunity to develop public/private partnerships and achieve a mutual goal: a more secure and efficient identity verification process without the need to handle paper documents, thereby enhancing the customer experience. CBP built the Traveler Verification Service as the back-end system to do facial biometric matching, while the air travel partners bought the front-end, consumer-facing facial comparison technology. CBP can now offer its stakeholders “identity as a service” wherever an identity check is required in the travel process, including check-in, bag drop, Transportation Security Administration screening, and departure, to further secure and streamline the travel process.
CBP has demonstrated the operational success of its vision with its ongoing Entry/Exit deployments. Currently, through public-private partnerships, CBP has implemented facial comparison technology for international arrivals at 18 airports and for international departures at 27 airports. CBP has also implemented biometric facial comparison technology for pedestrian crossings at 14 locations on the southwest border and at seven locations for closed-loop cruises. CBP has processed more than 50 million travelers through facial biometrics at air, land, and sea ports of entry. Since September 2018, CBP has used biometric facial recognition technology to capture more than 270 imposters who attempted to enter the United States using a genuine travel document that belongs to another person.
With the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on all modes of travel, CBP’s vision of a seamless travel process using facial biometrics has another critical benefit – it provides travelers with a hygienic, touchless process that will help rebuild the public’s confidence to travel again. As CBP continues to support the travel recovery efforts, the Entry/Exit team will work closely with its stakeholders to develop the future of seamless, touchless travel.
Best Educational Effort
An individual or team that has excelled in providing training and/or education-based opportunities either: a) to the federal identity community; or b) about federal identity applications to the public, media, or Congress.
Finalist 2: Patrick Grother, Mei Ngan, Kayee Hanaoka, Computer Scientists, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Patrick Grother, Mei Ngan, and Kayee Hanaoka manage the NIST Face Recognition Vendor Test (FRVT) program, the largest and most extensive face recognition algorithm test of its kind. FRVT is a globally recognized program that has provided expansive, ongoing, and invaluable results and analysis to the facial recognition community, including developers, end users, and policy- and decisionmakers. FRVT results have been the “gold standard” for the facial recognition community worldwide, providing an independent assessment on the current capabilities and limitations of submitted face recognition algorithms.
The FRVT program was developed to evaluate face algorithm capabilities on a fair, repeatable, and equitable platform with data, software, and analysis controlled by a trusted third party. FRVT has evaluated face recognition performance for one-to-one verification, one-to-N identification, ranked-based investigation, demographic differentials, twins and siblings, morphing, image quality, and the impact of face masks on pre-face mask-developed algorithms. In assessing the performance of such areas of research, FRVT has evaluated well over 600 algorithms from more than 150 worldwide developers. FRVT has unique access to over 30 million operational images from a number of different data sources that provide a variety of quality, ranging from portrait-quality images to unconstrained image capture.
The FRVT team has published reports covering all its work and made them available on the NIST FRVT website (https://www.nist.gov/programs-projects/face-recognition-vendor-test-frvt). The reports are continuously updated as new algorithms, data, and analysis become available. In addition to published reports, the FRVT team has given a number of seminars internationally to educate audiences on the ever-changing topic of face recognition. The team has given over 30 invited talks/presentations at worldwide conferences and workshops; responded to over 30 media interview requests; responded to approximately 15 U.S. congressional and Government Accounting Office inquiries; and prepared NIST leadership for four U.S. congressional testimonies related to their work. Invited talks at industry and government venues include Biometrics Institute Congress (London), Biometrics Institute – Asia-Pacific Conference (Australia), Bias Estimation in Face Analytic Workshop, Biometrics Special Interest Group (Germany), Innocence Project, Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and Washington State House Working Groups (United States), to name a few.
The FRVT team members have been and continue to be active members in a number of USG collaborations and working groups. NIST’s evaluations assist other agencies’ face recognition research and development efforts. The team’s established partnerships include Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, FB), DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), OBIM, and CBP, and it is a key member of the Special Operation Command Next Generation Identification and Awareness Government Biometric Technical Working Group.
The results of the FRVT evaluation have highlighted a wide range of performance across algorithm developers and data types. It has informed end users of the technology so they are aware of the algorithm they are using and understand performance variations that exist based on their system’s algorithm, quality of the data, specific application, and risk levels unique to their use case.
The team has also contributed to international face image quality biometric standards, including scalar/vector-quality metrics and next-generation face image capture standards. These standards will have significant impacts on improving the quality of data presented to face recognition systems and will improve identification performance.
This quote from International Biometric Identity Association summarizes the value of FRVT: “The recent NIST report on the performance of facial recognition algorithms across different demographics is a game-changer. It provides new and comprehensive data on the performance of algorithms across demographic groups. … With facts and evidence, the NIST report informs the policy debate on facial recognition, making possible an open and transparent process with a careful balancing of benefits and appropriate uses.…”
Finalist 3: Ann Wallwork, Treasury Department
Anne Shere Wallwork serves as the Senior Counselor for Strategic Policy and Innovation in Treasury’s Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes (TFFC), where she helps identify and mitigate money laundering and terrorist financing threats while facilitating responsible financial innovation and financial inclusion. Her efforts to facilitate the use of innovative products and services in the financial sector to help stem the tide of fraud and abuse in the financial system and to support financial inclusion has led Anne to champion work around digital identity, focusing on strong identity proofing and authentication practices.
Anne has been a driving force behind the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) work on digital identity. Over the last 18 months, she spearheaded the FATF’s public-private engagement on this topic and was project co-chair and lead drafter of the Digital Identity Guidance, issued in February. Through these efforts, Anne has helped strengthen understanding across the globe of how smart digital identity solutions work; their potential to strengthen measures to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, fraud, and other illicit financing activities and support financial inclusion; and the importance of adopting regulatory frameworks that enable the use of responsible digital identity solutions. She has also been a champion of considering the benefits of responsible digital identity solutions to support a range of national security and economic objectives in policy discussions at the Department of Treasury and across the US Government, and has helped focus interagency attention and cooperative efforts on the need for effective digital identity solutions to strengthen financial sector efficiency and integrity. Anne’s tireless leadership has helped drive support for regulatory and policy frameworks that enable customer onboarding, authorization of account access, and global financial transaction monitoring to leverage responsible digital identity solutions to combat money laundering and fraud, and promote inclusion in the financial services marketplace, in this country and globally.
From October 2007 to March 2012, Ms. Wallwork served as TFFC’s Senior Counselor for Asia, with primary responsibility for AML/CFT policy issues involving East Asia/South East Asia; South Asia; and Central Asia and Russia. In this capacity, she headed the U.S. delegation to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (EAG) and initiated a mechanism to facilitate cooperation on illicit finance issues with China under the auspices of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S & ED), and a similar mechanism with India.
Ms. Wallwork served as the Department’s Senior Representative to National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) from July, 2006 to November 2007 and was Deputy Director of Strategic Policy for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes from April 2004 to July 2006. She helped lead the U.S. Government’s efforts to develop a comprehensive, strategic approach to combating kleptocracy; helped drive the U.S. Government’s international efforts to trace and repatriate Iraqi assets worldwide; and chaired several interagency working groups that sought to recover the proceeds of foreign official corruption, including Liberian and Haitian assets. A graduate of Yale Law School (Editor, Yale Law Journal) and Wellesley College (Phi Beta Kappa, Wellesley College Scholar), before coming to Treasury, Ms. Wallwork clerked for the late Judge Thomas Gibbs Gee, U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit; practiced law at Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin in Washington, DC; and was a consultant for the World Bank.
Service and Leadership
An individual or team that has provided substantive guidance and/or leadership to the federal identity community.
Career Achievement Award
Winner(s) will be announced during the awards ceremony on Thursday, September 10.