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The Department of Defense must keep track of a large and ever-growing number of people, both known and unknown, as it executes its mission. The field associated with this responsibility is called identity management. One tool for identity management is biometrics, and some view DNA as a useful biometric for either identification or verification of individuals. However, serious questions remain about whether DNA is a viable biometric option, and it presents especially challenging questions. This paper examines DNA as a biometric from several perspectives, including technical requirements, policy and legal ramifications, and costs and benefits compared with other biometrics.

This paper results from the RAND Corporation's continuing program of self-initiated research. Support for such research is provided, in part, by donors and by the independent research and development provisions of RAND's contracts for the operation of its U.S. Department of Defense federally funded research and development centers.

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