Earlier this week the U.S. Department of State’s Consular Affairs office announced its plan to issue a new sole source contract to its current facial recognition software provider IDEMIA. The fixed price contract is for one year with the option for four one-year extensions.
The DoS CA office is responsible for issuing visas to foreign nationals and passports to U.S. citizens. According to the justification for using other than full and open competition, “IDEMIA is the only known contractor with the demonstrated experience and integrated software” and is “the most accurate non-Russian or Chinese software according to the … National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Face Recognition Vendor Test”.
Additionally, IDEMIA is currently performing the same work under the incumbent contract which is due to expire on September 29,2018. The company – previously MorphoTrust – already screens the identities of the more than 30 million passport and visa applicants per year for Consular Affairs.
The department added that “without IDEMIA’s continued involvement, the Government will experience cost, schedule, and performance degradation as well as a gap in mission critical programs resulting in a threat to national security” as “all commercial face recognition systems employ proprietary processing and unique storage formats for their face templates. The roughly 360 million current face templates in IDEMIA’s proprietary format would need to be recreated in a different contractor’s proprietary format.”
IDEMIA announced in March that its technology had won the top ranking as the most accurate 1:1 algorithm out of 33 competitors in the SELFIE and WEBCAM categories of NIST’s Face Recognition Vendor Test (FTRVT).