The Department of Defense is going to be making some changes to its approach to biometric and forensic capabilities, including a new focus on tradeoffs in making decisions about contract wins. That’s one key takeaway from a recent Government Accountability Office report entitled “DoD Biometrics and Forensics: Progress Made in Establishing Long-term Deployable Capabilities, but Further Actions Are Needed”.
The report sought to assess how the DoD manages its biometric and forensics strategy, and offers an interesting portrait of how such technologies have progressed in the military sector. According to the study, the DoD has used biometric and forensic capabilities to capture or kill 1,700 individuals since 2008, and to deny 92,000 unauthorized individuals access to DoD assets over that same period.
But there are some issues with the DoD’s approach, and the GAO has made some key recommendations. One is that the DoD should establish an official strategy for its biometric capabilities; another is that it should establish “a geographically dispersed back-up capability” for central biometric databases. And a third is that the DoD should try to more effectively manage acquisitions of new biometric capabilities, as the Army has not followed DoD protocols in recent acquisitions and “may have missed an opportunity to leverage existing, viable, and less costly alternatives.”
Pertinent to that last point is the GAO’s recommendation that the DoD move away from a contracting approach focused on the lowest bids, and toward an approach that “permits tradeoffs among cost and non-cost factors and allows a contract to be awarded to a contractor that is not the lowest bidder.” A lowest-cost approach works for basic services like sanitation, the report argues, but a tradeoff approach could produce better outcomes for technical and highly skilled contractor services.
The GAO says that the DoD has “concurred with all of the recommendations and cited actions it plans to take to address them,” which could prove to be good news for government-focused biometrics specialists that have a lot of value to offer.
August 14, 2017 – by Alex Perala