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.
Winner: Department of Defense (DoD) Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) Biometric Enabled Watch List (BEWL) Dissemination Management Functionality (BDMF) Team
I am pleased to nominate the DoD ABIS Biometrically Enabled Watch List (BEWL) Dissemination Management Functionality (BDMF) team for the 2022 FEDId Best Technical Advancement award. This nomination is in recognition of the successful development and deployment of BDMF within the Department of Defense (DoD) Automated Biometrics Identification System (DoD ABIS) in September 2021. DoD ABIS is the authoritative DoD repository for matching, storing, and sharing biometrics data across DoD and with the Intelligence Community and Interagency partners. The deployment of BDMF was a combined effort between the Defense Forensics Science Center (DFSC) Biometrics Operations Division (BOD), the Product Manager (PdM) for Biometrics Enabling Capability (BEC), and Leidos.
The DoD ABIS BDMF team developed a capability to meet user requirements and completed the project within 10 months by adapting to an Agile Software development framework. The software development effort alone was challenging enough, but the team was also performing the development effort in a maximum telework environment due to COVID restrictions.
The team initially planned to deploy BDMF in July 2021. However, DFSC BOD requested to delay deployment due to the ramp up of time-sensitive biometrics screening operations in support of Afghan non-combatant evacuation operations.
During evacuation of Afghanistan, the existing watch listing capability experienced a failure and was not able to perform the watch listing capabilities required by DFSC BOD. The DoD ABIS BDMF team was able to rapidly stand up a stand-alone version of the new BDMF capability to fill the watch listing capability gap.
As Afghan screening operations stabilized, the DoD ABIS BDMF team deployed BDMF as a new DoD ABIS core capability in September 2021. The increase in capability in getting information to the Warfighter, Intelligence Community, and Interagency was immediately noticeable. The total time to ingest the BEWL was reduced from 3 manually intensive days to 14 minutes. This reduced a very manually intensive process to an automated process with software improvements. Users noted substantial performance and reliability improvements over the previous stand-alone capability – activities that took days (watch list imports) were now down to hours in BDMF; tasks that previously took hours (exports) were now finishing in minutes. This freed up the users to work higher priority operational tasks and cases coming in from the field.
The development process did not end with the initial deployment. Through regular touch point engagements with users, the DoD ABIS BDMF team came up with 13 additional capabilities to be deployed in DoD ABIS from October 2021 to June 2022 as part of monthly maintenance releases.
Overall, the DoD ABIS BDMF team did a masterful job in planning and executing the BDMF development effort. BDMF exceeded user expectations and the constant agile software development improvements after deployment continue to enhance capability. The DoD ABIS BDMF Team provided the user with a more capable solution, eliminated the need to pay for sustainment of a separate system, and enhanced support to biometrics screening operations using the BEWL.
Runner-Up: FBI’s Iris Program Team - Department of Justice (DOJ)
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division implemented the Next Generation Identification (NGI) Iris Service as a biometric identification service on 09/29/2020. This was a groundbreaking effort as iris is the newest identification biometric utilized by the FBI in over 20 years, DNA, with the next most recent being fingerprints in 1924. Iris is a recognized biometric utilized by law enforcement and criminal justice agencies that provides positive identifications with a demonstrated response time of 18 seconds lights-out processing with over 99 percent accuracy. As the NGI Iris Service mitigates the risk of misidentification due to mutilated or altered fingerprints in an effort to avoid identification, the NGI Iris Service has proven the critical need for iris used as an identification validation tool by the rapid growth of the repository.
Iris recognition is as quick as taking a mugshot with a capture time of 2 seconds with the accuracy of fingerprint records. Intake booking procedures are streamlined to include iris capture, subsequent transfer or release is complete with only an iris search. Iris identification mitigates the risk of erroneous release of the wrong inmate. Transfer or release biometric results are returned on-site in less than 20 seconds with the rap sheet, mugshot, and National Crime Information Center Wanted Person, National Sex Offender Registry, and/or Immigration Violator data.
The NGI Iris Service results in substantial personnel and cost-savings to law enforcement agencies. A time study of fingerprint collection processes produced an average fingerprint collection time of eight minutes. The demonstrated iris collection time is 2 seconds, resulting in a 7 minute and 58 second time savings per inmate. Per the U.S. Department of Justice Prisoner and Prisoner Re-entry study, over 10,000 inmates are released from prisons and jails in the United States every week. Performing an iris search during release, at a minimum, could save agencies over 1,200 hours each week.
Due to the extraordinary initiative of the FBI’s CJIS Division Biometric Services Section, in just over 20 months, the NGI Iris Service repository has rapidly grown to over 2 million sets of iris images, reflecting more than 1.54 million individuals. During this short timeframe, the FBI has partnered with over 150 different federal and state agencies submitting irises from 528 locations, both domestically and internationally. The NGI Iris Service receives enrollments from agencies, predominately federal, in 30 states, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State.
Now and in years to come, the FBI’s efforts to establish and rapidly pursue the growth of the iris repository will increase officer safety, realize significant personnel and cost-savings, while protecting the American public from criminal and national security threats.
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.
Winner: Social Media Exploitation (SOMEX) Team - Department of Justice (DOJ)
The FBI’s National Threat Operations Center (NTOC), situated within the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division’s National Threat Operations Section (NTOS), is the FBI’s primary communication channel to receive telephonic and electronic tips (E-Tips) from the public. NTOC averages around 4,000 telephone calls and E-Tips per day, resulting in approximately 103 Guardian leads and 14 threat-to-life (TTL) incidents. Information received by NTOC is immediately prioritized and disseminated to FBI field offices or state and local partners for investigative and intelligence purposes.
On November 17, 2019, the NTOS Social Media Exploitation (SOMEX) Team was established to address threats with unknown subjects, victims, and locations; conduct supplemental database searches; issue emergency disclosure requests (EDRs) in TTL situations; and ensure the information is forward to the correct field office or law enforcement partner in the most efficient manner. Currently, NTOS SOMEX receives TTL information 24/7 directly from social media providers via email and the NTOS SOMEX application programming interface (API). On April 21, 2020, NTOC deployed this secure API allowing social media companies to submit identified threats directly to NTOS SOMEX. Through the API, all threats and associated attachments are received by NTOS SOMEX as an E-Tip, thus eliminating the manual process of converting emails to E-Tip transactions. Private sector companies submitting threats directly to NTOS SOMEX has increased 56% in FY22, with a 400% increase in private sector companies submitting through the API.
Another important feature of the NTOS SOMEX threat assessment and mitigation process is the use of the EDR. An EDR allows social media and private sector companies to voluntarily provide information to law enforcement when emergency conditions exist. NTOS SOMEX drafted 1,764 EDRs in FY21 and has drafted 1,526 EDRs as of 05/31/2022 in FY22. NTOS SOMEX excels at using EDRs to identify a potential subject, location, and victim before disseminating, sometimes at the request of field offices and resident agencies. NTOS SOMEX has worked diligently with each social media and private sector company to refine its justification language to increase the EDR approval rate. NTOS SOMEX has seen the EDR approval rate—83.22%—increase by 11.68% so far in FY22.
NTOS SOMEX was implemented to address vulnerabilities in TTL processes and gaps in NTOC Guardians with an unknown victim, subject, or location. The impact of NTOS SOMEX has been significant by reducing risk, improving consistency, and ensuring TTL information is disseminated timely and to the appropriate area of responsibility (AOR) from inception. NTOS SOMEX’s advanced analysis prior to dissemination and the provision of a venue for cyber threats have significantly improved the operational value of outgoing NTOC Guardians. As of 05/31/2022 in FY22, NTOS SOMEX has processed 5,292 information submissions and 1,543 EDRs, resulting in 1,689 TTL Guardians being sent to the appropriate AOR for action. The work of NTOS SOMEX positions NTOC to make a substantial impact by not only advancing the NTOS mission, but ultimately increasing public trust and improving safety in our nation’s communities and around the world.
Runner-Up: Karyn Bennett - Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Karyn Bennett, a 15-year veteran in the Federal Biometrics area, currently serves as the Program Manager for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Compliance Assistance Reporting Terminal (CART) program. Karyn’s program management skills along with her deep understanding of biometrics resulted in the championing of this program, as well as its successful deployment and current operations. Karyn began her work in biometrics with the US-VISIT Program (now the Office of Biometric Identity Management) in 2007, working in policy, privacy, and operations in the era of creating interoperable systems and enhancing data sharing within the U.S. government and with international partners. Since her move to ICE in 2012, Karyn has served as a program manager, project manager, and biometrics SME, supporting or managing numerous other biometric activities, including the enrollment of large numbers of historical hard card fingerprints into IDENT via the ERO EAGLE system and system enhancements and automation to support the large-scale expansion of collection of DNA in compliance with the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005.
ICE offices face challenges with the lengthy check-in process associated with four million required regular annual appointments for certain individuals to update their personal information and maintain compliance with the terms of their supervision. Previously, some of these updates, such as address or contact information, even though basic in nature, required a time-consuming, resource-heavy manual process for both the participating individual and the assigned ICE officer. Along with manual checks of external systems, this process often resulted in high volume waiting rooms just to verify basic information and conduct simple system checks.
The CART system was created and built to comply with a congressional mandate to automate the check-in process for low-risk non-citizens on the non-detained docket to enable ICE Officers to focus on more critical tasks. Individuals are now able to check-in faster at ICE offices for their scheduled appointments and without the previously set need for ICE officers to manage the entire process. The kiosk confirms an individual’s identity with fingerprints. The CART system also links to other ICE systems to remove manual documentation and resource time devoted to managing the check-in process and allows ICE officers to focus on higher-risk cases and other enforcement needs.
CART created a new disruptive capability by automating a manual government process using biometric identification in a law enforcement environment. It queries fingerprints against the DHS-wide system for biometric and biographic information known as the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) to verify the identity of the user. CART also contributes to the IDENT database which houses facial photos, among other biometric information, to continue to build out this collection for future face recognition capabilities at DHS and other agencies.
By utilizing an agile, multi-skilled team, CART operations, maintenance and quality user support continues to be provided in a cost-effective manner allowing for greater mission support and an increased number of deployments. As the number of operational kiosks increases across ICE locations, the program is focused on automation through team managed deployments and additional automated testing to enable team members to focus on increased user support at deployed sites and expansion of deployments toward Full Operational Capability.
Runner-Up: Patrice Wilmot - Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Patrice Wilmot serves as Director, Identity and Access Management, at the IRS, responsible for executive oversight of technical development activities for external ID proofing, authentication, and authorization for over 200 million U.S. taxpayers every year. She also provides technical leadership and guidance involving the integration, coordination, and innovation of other public-facing applications, enhancing the overall taxpayer experience for accessing IRS online services. Patrice has worked to make identity better in the federal space for over 30 years. Prior to IRS, Patrice received several awards during her tenure with DISA, including the prestigious Director’s 3-star note. Between 1999-2002, she took a leave of absence at DISA and led the Operations Directorate for Information Technology with the US Navy in Sigonella, Sicily where she was awarded a Meritorious Civilian Service Medal.
In 2021, Patrice oversaw a team to successfully launch an improved identity verification and sign-in process under the Secure Access Digital Identity initiative (SADI) program. The SADI program and infrastructure allows for the IRS to easily adopt modernized identity platforms that meet IRS and other federal requirements. The program protects most externally facing IRS transactions and enables taxpayers / tax professionals to securely access IRS online services, reducing burdens on non-digital channels (e.g., phone, paper) and service costs to the IRS. As a result of Patrice’s leadership, this program has enabled more than double the amount of people to securely access IRS online tools and applications (e.g., Child Tax Credit Update portal and Online Account). (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/02/25/irs-idme-account-success-rate/).
Additionally, there are vulnerable populations that have seen even greater gains in access – some nearly 4x under SADI, including but not limited to residents of US territories, users under 25, low-income individuals, and first-time filers.
IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig was supportive of Patrice’s’ work to the SADI portal, stating "Identity verification is critical to protect taxpayers and their information.” He went on further, saying, “To help taxpayers and the tax community, we are improving the accessibility of online tools that help families manage their Child Tax Credit, check on their IRS accounts and securely perform other routine tasks online." (https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-unveils-new-online-identity-verification-process-for-accessing-self-help-tools)
Patrice is a leader. Her dedication, commitment and hard work with SADI and the IRS has resulted in making it easier for more Americans — including low-income earners and minorities — to access their tax information. We hope she is recognized for this accomplishment at FedID.
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.
Runner-Up: National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Contactless Fingerprint Team
The contactless fingerprint team at NIST are engaging with the biometrics community on the capabilities of contactless captured fingerprint technologies. Thru their work others have a better understanding of the capabilities of the technology. The team has addressed issues related to data format standards, best practices, developing methods for certification, and interoperability assessments with legacy contact capture devices.
Their work involves a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with technology developers to partner in producing open testing methods, metrics, and artifacts that will support future certification of these types of devices for inclusion on Government Certified Products Lists.
The team produced NIST Special Publication 500-305, Guidance for Evaluating Contactless Fingerprint Acquisition Devices, providing initial guidance on measurements for the evaluation of contactless fingerprint devices. This was followed by NIST Special Publication 500-334, Contactless Fingerprint Capture and Data Interchange Best Practice Recommendation, which defined voluntary (informative) changes to the ANSI/NIST standard to allow for the creation of contactless transactions that are not readily ingestible by existing systems but based closely on ANSI/NIST so that minimal changes to the system can allow for processing.
Additionally, the team supported better understanding on the impact of introducing contactless captured prints into existing contact captured based systems. This included NIST IR 8307, Interoperability Assessment 2019: Contactless-to-Contact Fingerprint Capture, NIST IR 8315, Evaluating the Operational Impact of Contactless Fingerprint Imagery on Matcher Performance, and NIST IR 8392, Evaluating the Impact of Contactless Fingerprint Imagery Spatial Loss on Matcher Performance. These reports provide important technical information for developers and potential end users about the impact to existing contact-based operations.
All this work has culminated in the recent release of NIST Special Publication 500-336, Specification for Interoperability Testing of Contactless Fingerprint Acquisition Devices, and the NIST Fingerprint Registration and Comparison Tool (NFRaCT). NIST SP 500-336 provides a protocol and associated metrics for the evaluation of contactless fingerprint acquisition device, and their interoperability with legacy devices and a path forward to device certifications. NFRaCT enables interested parties seeking testing for certification to collect fingerprint images and performance measurements using the NFRaCT and provide those measurements to the certifying authority for analysis and evaluation without requiring the exchange of any underlying fingerprint images.
The contactless fingerprint team at NIST has continually worked to provide the needed technical information for end-users of the technology to understand capabilities and impacts to existing systems when making decisions on the use of the technology. Additionally, the team has worked with technology developers to assist in making improvements to the technology. This work is important to understanding the technology and how to properly integrate it into new and current operations.
Service and Leadership
An individual or team that has provided substantive guidance and/or leadership to the federal identity community.
Career Achievement Award
An individual who has achieved significant and sustained achievements within the FedID community over a period of at least fifteen years.