RAND Hosts Inaugural DoD Biometrics In Progress Review

Army Deputy Chief Information Officer David Borland
chaired the Review.

On August 16, 2000, RAND's Washington, D.C. office hosted the inaugural Department of Defense (DoD) Biometrics In Progress Review. The Review served as a kick-off for establishing an interdepartmental biometrics program and planning a comprehensive DoD-wide biometric strategy. Army Deputy Chief Information Officer David Borland chaired the Review. Participants included senior representatives from Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Army, Navy, Air Force, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), National Security Agency (NSA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and other federal agencies. Elaine Newton, Kathi Webb and John Woodward represented RAND. 

Bruce Hoffman welcomed the group, emphasizing RAND's interest in this new technology and its national security applications. Speakers included Phillip Loranger, the Director of the Army's Biometric Management Office (BMO) and Jeff Dunn and Fernando Podio, the Co-Chairs of the U.S. Government's Biometric Consortium. The BMO also provided a hands-on demonstration of current biometric technologies. 

In his remarks, Mr. Borland explained that the Army will soon become the Executive Agent for biometrics for DoD and that cooperation from all the services has been excellent in the biometric arena. He also stressed that the BMO is interested in commercially-viable technology for applications; it will not perform a research and development role. 

By way of background, biometrics is a high-tech word for an old concept: how we go about recognizing one another. Biometric authentication uses automated methods based on physical characteristics or behavioral traits for human recognition. Examples of biometrics include iris and retina scanning, digitized fingerprints, hand geometry and speaker recognition. Researchers in RAND's Force Development and Technology Program in the Arroyo Center recently addressed the social, legal, and ethical (sociocultural) implications of Army-mandated use of biometrics in a study prepared for the BMO. 

On a related note, RAND's John Woodward was a featured speaker at the U.S. Government's Biometric Consortium 2000 Conference on September 13, 2000 at NIST in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Woodward's topic was "Biometrics in the Digital World: The Electronic Signature (E-SIGN) and Other Recent Policy Developments." 

The Army's Biometric Management Office and RAND helped to sponsor this conference, which attracted over 400 participants.