Biometrics Enter PIV Picture
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has issued the final biometric specifications for Federal Information Processing Standard-201.
The specifications come about seven weeks after NIST called for agencies to use minutia as the acceptable way to store fingerprint biometric data on smart cards to meet Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 (HSPD-12).
Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 mandates the development of the personal identity verification (PIV) card, an interoperable, electronically verifiable form of identification to be used by federal employees and contractors for IT and physical access. Federal Information Processing Standard 201 spells out technical standards for the card, which agencies must begin issuing in lieu of current ID cards in October.
NIST describes technical acquisition and formatting specifications for biometric credentials of the PIV system, including the PIV card itself. The standard details the procedures and formats for fingerprints and facial images agencies should use on the card. The primary design objective behind these specifications is high-performance universal interoperability, NIST says.
“The final specification helps reduce uncertainty on what the final requirements are, and that is a significant achievement so [that] manufacturers and government people know what they are looking for in products,” says Walter Hamilton, chairman of the International Biometric Industry Association. “Vendors can now submit products for testing and certification by NIST and the General Services Administration.”
NIST still is fine-tuning FIPS 201 and aligning the supporting technical specifications and guidelines, and plans are being finalized for testing and certifying products. Judith Spencer, chairwoman of the General Services Administration’s Federal ID Credentialing Committee, has said that industry appears ready to provide services for issuing and managing the cards by the October deadline.
NIST also plans to release the Minutia Exchange Test results in March. Over the past year, NIST has been testing 14 fingerprint matching products to figure out how they conform to INCITS 385 standard. Fingerprint matching systems that pass likely will be recommended to GSA to be put on the approved products list for HSPD-12.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon planned the “Winter Fox exercise,” for Feb. 23, which is the first field test of the First Responders Access Card (FRAC), an initiative of the multigovernmental National Capital Region. The exercise will demonstrate smart-card interoperability among federal, state and local emergency personnel in the Washington metro area. The card is expected to meet technical specifications for the PIV card.
The cards are intended to enable communication and access across jurisdictional boundaries during emergencies. “Winter Fox” will provide proof of concept for an interoperable card that could help alleviate emergency communications problems.