Agile Transformation of the U.S. Government’s Largest Biometric Repository

THE COLLECTION AND STORAGE OF BIOMETRIC DATA FOR AUTOMATED RECOGNITION is vital to the efforts of government agencies to protect the nation, enhancing their ability to determine whether individuals pose a risk to the United States. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM) provides the technology for storing, matching, and analyzing biometric data, updating its watchlist, and ensuring the integrity of the data. Its Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT), is the largest biometric repository and processing system for rapid identification and verification of individuals within the U.S. Federal Government. 

The Challenge

The demand has grown for biometric identification services that produce accurate, timely, and high fidelity biometric identity information for government agencies. IDENT currently stores more than 200 million unique identities and processes over 300,000 biometric transactions per day. OBIM’s waterfall development approach had resulted in lengthy release timelines, changes to the release scope due to shifting priorities, and limited progress on working through the system change request backlog.

OBIM sought VariQ’s expertise to pilot an Agile development approach that would allow a faster response time to the demands of the user community, and a dynamic process that would better address their system change request backlog, as well as allow for quicker responses to new and changing priorities. 

The Solution

The VariQ team developed system maintenance releases to address enhancements and security-related system changes for IDENT. These included the onboarding of OBIM customers and stakeholders, adding new biometric modalities such as facial matching, and establishing interfaces for the exchange of information that identifies individuals who may pose a threat to national security. 

VariQ’s team worked closely with OBIM staff to provide guidance on how its backlog of planned system changes could be redefined as user stories, added to a product backlog, and prioritized for development and testing into two-week sprints. The VariQ team also created an Agile roadmap that provides an overview of the sprint schedule, including a timeframe for release activities for each sprint for the subsequent three months.

The Outcome

The Office of Biometric Identification Management has continued to leverage the processes developed by the VariQ team, allowing the office to better plan and prioritize development work.  Through VariQ’s adaptive and agile approach, the Office of Biometric Identification Management has been able to upgrade its vital services to government agencies for the enhanced protection capabilities of our citizenry.