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Chapter Title: Assessment of the Assignments and Arrangements of the Executive

Book Title: An Assessment of the Assignments and Arrangements of the Executive
Agent for DoD Biometrics and Status Report on the DoD Biometrics Enterprise

Book Author(s): Douglas Shontz, Martin C. Libicki, Rena Rudavsky and Melissa A.

Published by: RAND Corporation

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Assessment of the Assignments and Arrangements of the Executive Agent for DoD Biometrics
and Status Report on the DoD Biometrics Enterprise

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ChAptEr thrEE

Assessment of the Assignments and Arrangements of the
Executive Agent

This chapter begins with a description of the EA organization, roles, and responsibilities. It
then describes the biometric capabilities that fall under the purview of the EA. The third sec-
tion assesses the assignments and arrangements of the EA and describes issues with each of
the eight stages of the biometrics cycle and qualitatively assesses the risk that certain identified
issues pose to the cycle.

The EA is supporting a functioning biometrics cycle that meets some level of warfighter
needs and has had significant success identifying bad actors. Aspects of the EA’s assignments
and arrangements show some deficiencies in managing biometrics responsibilities and pose
risks to the biometrics cycle and ability to provide for user needs. However, this assessment
examines ten years of activity and was conducted at a single point in time. Thus, it does not
fully capture the recent efforts by the EA to improve operations, many of which were ongo-
ing during our research. The EA has worked to increase automation, formalize activities, and
develop metrics that demonstrate the impact of biometrics work. R AND expects that the
required future annual assessments will track these continued changes and efforts to improve
effectiveness and efficiency.

Assignments and Arrangements of the Executive Agent

The responsibilities and functions of SECARMY acting as the EA for DoD Biometrics are
spelled out in DoDD 8521.01E, paragraph 5.12, a document released by DoD in 2008 to pro-
mote a joint and coordinated organizational structure for a DoD-wide biometric capability.
DoDD 8521.01E lists discrete tasks the EA must accomplish, but, in keeping with standard
DoD practice, the directive does not dictate how the Army must specifically organize its vari-
ous biometrics functions to carry out its responsibilities.

The Biometrics Cycle

However, before describing the specifics of the EA’s management and functions, it is useful to
briefly summarize what the EA is currently executing. In general, the EA executes those func-
tions needed to enable and support the biometrics cycle for red- and gray-force information.

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18 An Assessment of the Executive Agent for DoD Biometrics

Figure 3.1 describes the biometrics cycle as derived from the PSA’s description, DoD documen-
tation, and interviews.

The EA’s role in enabling and supporting the cycle includes developing, procuring, and
fielding biometric collection, storage, and analytical technology, operating the authoritative
database for red and gray forces, promulgating standards for biometric data, and collecting
common biometric requirements.1

For most biometric records, the cycle currently operates as follows: An individual is
“enrolled” by collecting (ideally) ten fingerprints, iris scans, a facial photograph, and biographic
information (name, height, weight, etc.); the data are sent to the Automated Biometric Iden-
tification System (ABIS) to determine if a biometric match can be made to existing records;
a match/no match response is sent to a recipient who may or may not be the person who sub-
mitted the request.2 Most fingerprint records submitted to ABIS can be resolved by automated
analysis, but some (approximately 9.5 percent as of January 2012 according to BIMA) must be
reviewed by a human forensic examiner. Submissions are prioritized based on urgency, with
SOCOM inquiries receiving higher priority than detention center inquiries (as well as Navy
maritime interdiction operations, and FBI Hostage Rescue Team operations). Results of bio-
metric submissions are also analyzed in conjunction with other available information about
the identified person. As of January 2012, ABIS contained 7.1 million records linked to 4.5
million unique identities, and ABIS was processing, on average, approximately 6,500 transac-
tions per day.

In addition to this process, BIMA employs latent print examiners who try to match ABIS
records to partial fingerprints collected from various sources, e.g., IEDs. Fingerprint records
are also received from partner nations working in cooperation with the United States.

1 The EA is also responsible for blue-force biometric work, but the current level of activity is much lower as described later
in this report.
2 One might suppose the cycle would terminate when a match/no match response is sent back to the field. It does not
unless the match is to someone on the BEWL or the match request came from SOCOM. According to CENTCOM
sources, the Project Manager for DoD Biometrics (PM-Biometrics) has had a requirement to implement a function in Bio-
metrics Automated Toolkit (BAT) to be able to receive responses, but it has not been implemented.

Figure 3.1
The Biometrics Cycle

RAND TR1290/1-3.1

Task/Direct Collect Transmit Match

Decide/Act Analyze Share/Reference Store

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Assessment of the Assignments and Arrangements of the Executive Agent 19

EA Roles and Responsibilities

Prior to describing the biometrics-specific functions of the EA listed in DoDD 8521.01E, it is
useful to reference DoDD 5101.1, which defines the general role of an EA within DoD. Con-
ceptually, an EA is designated to ensure proper coordination among DoD components, iden-
tify requirements and resources, and monitor and report results of performance for capabilities
not clearly within the purview of a single DoD component.3 DoDD 5101.1 explicitly describes
the role of an EA:

• “5.2.1. Execute DoD Executive Agent responsibilities, consistent with applicable law,
DoD Directive 5100.3 (reference (d)), DoD Directive 5100.73 (reference (e)), and this

• “5.2.2. Ensure proper coordination with the DoD Components for the responsibilities
and activities assigned to provide continuous, sustainable, and global support as required
by end-users. Ensure effective planning throughout operations by developing a coordi-
nated process and support plans for transition from peacetime to wartime and/or contin-
gency operations.

• “5.2.3. Identify requirements and resources, including force structure to the extent per-
mitted by law, necessary to execute assigned responsibilities and functions. Submit these
requirements to the cognizant Head of the DoD Component to be included in their
respective budget documentation.

• “5.2.4. Monitor resources used in performing assigned responsibilities and functions.
• “5.2.5. Develop, maintain, and report results of performance of DoD Executive Agent

responsibilities and functions, as may be required by law, Secretary of Defense decision,
or other Congressional requirements.

• “5.2.6. Obtain reports and information, consistent with DoD Directive 8910.1 (reference
(f )), as necessary, to carry out assigned DoD Executive Agent responsibilities, functions,
and authorities.

• “5.2.7. Establish, maintain, and preserve information as records, consistent with DoD
Directive 5015.2 (reference (g)), that document the transaction of business and mission
of the DoD Executive Agent.

• “5.2.8. Designate a focal point to coordinate matters regarding assigned DoD Executive
Agent responsibilities, functions, and authorities.”

DoDD 8521.01E specifies the role of the Biometrics EA in light of DoDD 5101.1 and the
development and deployment of common biometric technology, operating the authoritative
database, promulgation of data standards, and collection of requirements, among other things.
In considering these duties, it is important to remember two things: First, the assignments
and arrangements of an EA in general are meant to be monitored regularly for effectiveness in
meeting end-user requirements. Second, DoDD 8521.01E preceded formalized strategy for a

3 DoD, “DoD Executive Agent,” DoD Directive 5101.1, May 9, 2003.

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20 An Assessment of the Executive Agent for DoD Biometrics

coordinated DoD biometric capability and thus is merely an initial step. In light of these cave-
ats, DoDD 8521.01E by itself does not (and cannot) serve as the basis for assessing the EA’s
assignments and arrangements. Instead, the directive is a framework for the entire biometrics
program, including the EA’s role, that is meant to be further specified by other implementation
measures such as a DoD Instruction (DoDI). DoDD 8521.01E lists the explicit responsibilities
of the Biometrics EA:

• “5.12.1. Execute responsibilities of the DoD EA for DoD Biometrics in accordance with
Reference (w) and this Directive.

• “5.12.9. Develop, publish, and update as appropriate a DoD Biometrics Security Clas-
sification Guide.

• “5.12.8. Coordinate all component biometric requirements with DoD Component mem-
bers of the DoD Biometrics EXCOM.

• “5.12.6. Program for and budget sufficient resources to support common enterprise
requirements documentation, architecture development, materiel development, test and
evaluation, lifecycle management, prototyping, exercises, records management, demon-
strations, and evaluations to include efforts at maturing viable technologies and standards.

• “5.12.7. Program for and budget sufficient resources to support common biometric data
management, training, operations, and lifecycle support.

• “5.12.3. Provide for, manage, and maintain a biometrics center of excellence.
• “5.12.2. Appoint an Executive Manager for DoD Biometrics, who shall be a G/FO or

SES equivalent, with responsibilities as outlined in Enclosure 4.
• “5.12.4. Appoint a single Program Management Office, under the authority of the

Army Acquisition Executive, responsible for the development, acquisition, and field-
ing of common biometrics enterprise systems to support common, Service, and joint

We gathered additional information through interviews and document reviews to gain a
more complete understanding of the EA’s activities.

First, the EA appoints the Executive Manager for DoD Biometrics, who is currently the
Director of BIMA. The Executive Manager is responsible for biometrics standards and prom-
ulgation, among other things. BIMA is an agency created by the Army responsible for carrying
out the Executive Manager’s functions, including managing the “authoritative DoD reposito-
ries of biometric samples on those individuals not issued a DoD credential.”5

Second, the EA provides for, manages, and maintains “a biometrics center of excellence.”6

4 DoD, 2008s.
5 DoD, 2008a, paragraph E4.11.
6 DoD, 2008a, paragraph 5.12.3.

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Assessment of the Assignments and Arrangements of the Executive Agent 21

Third, the EA appoints “a single Program Management Office” for biometrics, cur-
rently PM-Biometrics, which is “responsible for the development, acquisition, and fielding of
common biometrics enterprise systems to support common, Service, and joint requirements.”7

Fourth, the EA, “when applicable … make[s] recommendations to [the Under Secretary
of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics] USD(AT&L) concerning acquisition
category and milestone decisions for all biometric acquisition programs.”8

Fifth, the EA is tasked with programming and budgeting resources to support common
requirements. Currently, and over the last ten years, these resources have come overwhelmingly
from OCO funding. This funding source relieved the Army of having to make trade-offs in
its base budget between DoD-wide biometrics support and other Army needs. However, once
OCO funding ends—a factor already starting to impinge on the FY13 program—biometrics
will have to compete for funding and will therefore need a strong rationale in favor of surviving
as an enduring DoD capability in some form. Furthermore, without OCO funding, biomet-
rics requirements must be supported with formal PoRs created by the Army. As of this writ-
ing, the Army has initiated this effort, but it has moved only through Army’s internal staffing
process and must still complete joint staffing.

Sixth, the EA is responsible for programming and budgeting “sufficient resources to sup-
port common biometric data management, training, operations, and lifecycle support.” Train-
ing has been ad hoc so far because formal training cannot be developed without PoRs.

Seventh, the EA is responsible for coordinating “all component biometric requirements
with DoD Component members” of the DoD Biometrics Executive Committee (EXCOM),
and, by extension, using these requirements in developing its acquisitions.

Finally, the EA is responsible for developing, publishing, and updating “a DoD Biomet-
rics Security Classification Guide.”

The EA has taken on and engaged in additional biometrics activities not specified in
DoDD 8521.01E by virtue of additional OSD guidance, past practice, and the consequences
of deployed systems. We identified these activities during the study and incorporated them into
our understanding of the assignments and arrangements as appropriate.

The EA’s management structure described by DoDD 8521.01E, officially formed by the
EA, guided by ADMs, and as carried out in practice, is shown in Figure 3.2. Beyond the
DoDD-required Executive Manager (BIMA) and PM-Biometrics, the management structure
includes requirements and (in the future) training functions formally assigned to U.S. Army
TR ADOC, as well as BEI functions carried out by the National Ground Intelligence Center
(NGIC). The EA components’ primary functions and responsibilities as identified during this
study are summarized in Table 3.1. For purposes of this report, we assumed all other EA func-
tions are retained by the EA.

As described by the DoDDs discussed above, a PSA—currently the Assistant Secretary of
Defense for Research and Engineering—oversees the EA’s activities. For biometrics, the PSA

7 DoD, 2008a, paragraph 5.12.4.
8 DoD, 2008a, paragraph 5.12.5.

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22 An Assessment of the Executive Agent for DoD Biometrics

accomplishes his oversight primarily by chairing the EXCOM, which is the coordinating body
for DoD biometrics. The EA is represented at EXCOM meetings by the Executive Manager,
and the EA components provide the PSA with updates on biometrics activities. Other DoD
components also participate in the EXCOM as needed.

Shortly after the publication of DoDD 8521.01E in 2008, DoD released the Biometrics
Enterprise Strategic Plan (BESP). This document firmly prioritizes support of military opera-
tions for DoD biometrics, but, as discussed in Chapter Four, its goals are vague. As discussed
in Chapter Two, when we tried to apply a logic model approach to track the program inputs to
intended outcomes, we found the documents were inconsistent among themselves. This led us
to use the approach that focuses on the biometrics cycle.

Assessment of EA Management Assignments and Arrangements

Several aspects of the EA’s assignments and arrangements for carrying out its biometrics respon-
sibilities are stovepiped, unclear, and duplicative, which could contribute to reduced effective-
ness and efficiency of biometrics capabilities for end-users. R AND identified three factors as
the likely root causes of management deficiencies:

• EA responsibilities spread across Army in a somewhat nontraditional manner

Figure 3.2
Executive Agent Management Structure

RAND TR1290/1-3.2

Assistant Secretary of
Defense (Research
and Engineering


Organizations with known or designated key EA functions

Secretary of the
Army (EA)

Deputy Chief of Staff
for Intelligence


Deputy Chief of Staff
for Operations and

Plans (G-3/5/7)

Training and
Doctrine Command


National Ground
Intelligence Center


Intelligence and
Security Command

BIMA (Executive

Capability Manager
for Biometrics and


Assistant Secretary of
the Army for

Acquisition, Logistics,
and Technology

Program Executive

Information Systems

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Assessment of the Assignments and Arrangements of the Executive Agent 23

• continued reliance on OCO funding and quick reaction capabilities (QRCs)
• lack of objectives and metrics.

First, as noted above, the EA’s functions—both those formally assigned and others taken
on—are spread across the Army and only meet organizationally at the EA himself, SECARMY.
The management arrangement is mostly typical within the Army, with separate roles for col-
lecting requirements, procuring technology, and operating systems. However, the complicat-
ing factors in this case are the EA’s Executive Manager and the need for centralized operations.
Normally, requirements are gathered, equipment is acquired and fielded, and Army units use
the equipment independently. With biometrics, the equipment must be used in concert with a
central database that supports all of DoD. The EA’s Executive Manager operates the database
and has assumed some roles in technology development and requirements. Further, the EA’s
Executive Manager only has authority over BIMA, with no ability to coordinate the EA’s func-
tions and components.

Consequently, the closest approximation to the true role of Executive Manager has been
taken on more by the PSA’s representative, the Director of Defense Biometrics. However, as an

Table 3.1
Summary of Executive Agent Component Primary Functions and Responsibilities Identified in RAND

EA Component Functions Notes

BIMA – Executive

• Vice chair of Biometrics EXCOM
• Manage database for red and gray forces
• technology “support”
• Standards
• Develop tools to facilitate interoperability
• Coordinate on continuity of operations (COOp)


responsible for all Executive
Manager responsibilities listed in
DoDD 8521.01E

pM-Biometrics • Develop, acquire, and field biometrics systems
• Database COOp site

reports to program Executive
Office and Asst. Sec. Army on
acquisition matters

trADOC • Gather biometrics requirements through

• Develop Capability Development Documents
(CDDs) for pors through tCM-B&F

• Develop and conduct training

NGIC • Operate BEwL
• provide BEI through analysts funded by the

Military Intelligence program (MIp) and
National Intelligence program (NIp)

• handle biometric data

BEwL and BEI functions directed
to DIA in DoDD 8521.01E, but
Army NGIC has been carrying
them out

SOUrCE: DoD, 2008a; and interviews with U.S. government personnel.

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24 An Assessment of the Executive Agent for DoD Biometrics

OSD office responsible for oversight and guidance, the PSA lacks directive authority over the
EA’s components. According to BIMA, “The EA’s responsibilities in DoDD 8521.01E include
additional items beyond what is included in DoDD 5101.1, thus distorting the perception
of who has the responsibility to lead the DoD Biometrics Program. By allocating additional
responsibilities to the PSA … the EA focal point [in this case the Executive Manager] does not
have the authority and responsibilities to adequately manage the DoD Biometrics Program.”9
We do not believe “additional” PSA responsibilities are hindering the Executive Manager, but
the practical effect is that SECARMY, as the EA, remains the single point of management at a
level in the Army that does not have the time to devote to the day-to-day minutiae of biomet-
rics activities. The impact of this organizational positioning is shown in several instances. All
non-Army personnel interviewed by R AND were unsure or unaware of which EA components
are responsible for the EA’s functions, and in fact, several Army personnel were also unsure
about roles within the EA.

Because of its limited organizational reach, BIMA is unable to properly promulgate and
enforce standards for biometric technology. Under DoDD 8521.01E, the DoD components
are responsible for complying with the standards, and BIMA stated that the Biometric Stan-
dards Working Group, which BIMA chairs, has formally recommended standards to the DoD
Information Technology Standards and Profile Registry (DISR) regularly since 2006. How-
ever, BIMA has not enforced the data standards, and technology has been procured that does
not meet the standards.

Because of unclear responsibilities or unclear management direction, BIMA and TCM-
B&F both ran requirements working groups, despite this function normally residing with a
TCM. BIMA attempts to differentiate its working group by stating that it focuses on “col-
laboration among the services and federal partners,” but TCM also works to include the other
military services in the course of validating requirements.10 Both TCM-B&F and G-3 said
that having two groups operating in the requirements space is duplicative and inefficient. This
duplication of effort—and potential lack of clarity about who was ultimately responsible—may
have contributed to the approximately three years required to develop and complete the CDDs
for BEC and Joint Personnel Identification version 2 (JPIv2), discussed in greater detail below.

A lack of collaboration between EA components has led to direct failures. PM-Biometrics
and BIMA are both responsible for ABIS; BIMA for day-to-day management of operations and
PM-Biometrics for fielding, upgrades, and maintenance. However, the organizations blamed
each other for multiple failed ABIS upgrades—the most recent occurring in August 2011, with
each group claiming the other failed to provide adequate information for the upgrade. Because
of the stovepiped management structure, the conflict could only be resolved by the EA himself.
Similarly, both PM-Biometrics and BIMA play a role in the COOP site for ABIS. DoD and

9 Comments from BIMA to R AND on the draft of this report, April 2012; DoDD 5101.1 lays out the general framework
and scope of responsibilities for EAs, while DoDD 8521.01E provides the specific responsibilities and functions for the Bio-
metrics EA.
10 Biometrics and Identity Management Agency comments to R AND, April 2012.

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Assessment of the Assignments and Arrangements of the Executive Agent 25

Army policy require COOP contingencies, and the EA has had a standing request for an ABIS
COOP site since approximately 2007. As of this report, the COOP site is scheduled to be run-
ning in the first quarter of FY13, five years after the requirement was issued. At least one failed
attempt to set up the COOP site has been made on the West Coast since 2007. PM-Biometrics
stated, “It is the PM’s job to establish a COOP site, but the PM has been unable to accomplish
this mission because of lack of concurrence from BIMA.”11

Second, most of the biometrics activities have been supported by OCO funding and have
focused on procuring QRCs because of wartime environment demands. Much of the Army
has been forced to respond to urgent operational needs from Iraq and Afghanistan, which
resulted in tools and technology being rapidly developed and fielded without adhering to DoD
standards, formal performance measures, and operational testing and evaluation requirements.
This was seen as important for early fielding given the pressure of wartime. However, the
biometrics enterprise continued operating under this paradigm, lacking firm deadlines and
accountability measures, according to a G-3/5/7 interview. The absence of structure and stra-
tegic planning contributed to the proliferation of devices that are not completely interoperable
and to conflicts between end-users and EA components over which tasks were given priority.
For example, PM-Biometrics was criticized by part of the Army for prioritizing work on the
Biometric Identification System for Access (BISA) rather than the BAT, which was in greater
use at the time. PM-Biometrics claimed the apparent difference in effort was due to BISA’s
code having “greater maintainability and sustainability.”12

Third, the EA lacks metrics to determine the sufficiency and efficiency of its activities.
When R AND first requested performance metrics from the EA components, the responses
largely consisted of budget execution (i.e., spending) and staffing levels. BIMA-WV explained
how it tracks ABIS daily transactions, number of matches, and downtime, but these are met-
rics with mostly self-imposed (i.e., BIMA-imposed) thresholds and objectives and without a
basis to determine sufficiency, i.e., whether warfighter needs are being adequately met.13 As
discussed below, DoD as a whole lacks goals for using biometrics and implementing biometric
technology, but the EA is still responsible for developing organizational goals and objectives
to provide guidance and enforce accountability. BIMA identified …

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