SLED Analysis Feature for June: Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) Nationwide Contracting Trends

Posted by Kevin Cooper on June 19, 2018

State Level AFIS Vendors - Female Government Employee

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In this featured article we highlight a recent study on automated fingerprint identification system trends by Kevin Cooper, Research Analyst for GovWin+Onvia’s SLED research team.


The GovWin State, Local, and Education team tracks important develops in the Justice and Public Safety market and has conducted comprehensive market research of Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS). This examination has taken into account procurement and contracting trends from state, city and county governments to display the current market situation and potential future areas of growth.


The GovWin+Onvia State, Local, and Education Justice and Public Safety team has conducted comprehensive market research of Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS) on a state and local level over the past few months. To conduct the study we’ve taken a wide-ranging approach to gather information regarding current and future procurement and contracting practices regarding AFIS. Our database also has specialized intelligence regarding state level AFIS contracting which is accessible to subscribers. Before diving into the specifics regarding AFIS procurement practices it is important to understand the components and history of AFIS.

Components of AFIS Technology – How it Works

AFIS technology is composed of two main systems, the database solution and the scanning system. Jurisdictions will operate their own scanning technology to feed the fingerprint databases with full fingerprint, palm print and in some cases additional biometric information such as eye scans. These technologies are augmented through field and lab print recovery techniques that are used to recover latent prints from incident scenes. However, the main component of an AFIS is the database program. AFIS relies on the ability to access large amounts of data in an environment that is easily searchable and analyzed. The technology that supports fingerprint identification has undergone a long history to become the ubiquitous technology it is today.

From Manual to Automated – AFIS History and Importance

Fingerprint science features a long history that dates back to the late 19th and early 20th century. The early days of fingerprinting were crude, time-consuming and tedious and law enforcement was not able to rely on them to the same extent that they can be utilized today. By 1924 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had become the U.S.’ centralized fingerprint repository.(Souce: SecureIDNews) The manual print matching process utilized during the first half of the 1900’s could take days to complete and while it became more accurate over time it remained largely unchanged for more than half a century.

The FBI was the first organization in the U.S. to experiment with automating the fingerprint process. In the late 1969 the FBI issued the first request for proposals (RFP) for a prototype system. It would not be until the 1980's that the first AFIS databases would became commercially available. (Source: National Criminal Justice Reference Service) These early systems often were not interoperable and lacked efficient searching capabilities. Throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s the ability to search was the main area of development for AFIS and by 2004 agencies could search by the entire hand print. As well, improvements in latent print recovery, networked systems and interoperability became better AFIS was able to provide more information more quickly to investigators. Today AFIS technology is more able to quickly assist law enforcement with investigations as more biometric information is able to be captured and searched. AFIS has become indispensable to law enforcement agencies around the county. The procurement of this technology has attained equal importance with local and state governments.

State Level AFIS Vendors Map

Understanding AFIS Procurement in the State, Local, and Education (SLED) Market

State and local governments have been procuring AFIS technology for many years but competition can still be fierce between the few vendors who dominate the market. The three main vendors in the AFIS market include Sagem Morpho (Idemia and MorphoTrak), NEC Corporation of America, and 3M Cogent. This remains true throughout state, city and county AFIS procurements with virtually all of the AFIS work handled by these three companies. Some purchasing agencies have had long relationships with vendors, such as Virginia, who has been with NEC since 1987, and Connecticut, who is contracted with 3M until 2050. While other agencies will change vendors once contracts expire, such as Michigan who recently contracted with MorphoTrak after several years of work with NEC. On a state level the Justice and Public Safety team has observed an average base contract length of anywhere from five to ten years with extensions options varying in length but often extending a contract another ten of fifteen years. For cities and counties the base contract terms remain similar but Deltek has found that the way the maintenance agreements are conducted is much different than their state procurement counterparts. Our analysis has found that cities and counties prefer to enter into annual sole source maintenance agreements with AFIS vendors. These agreements often do not have term limits and can make it difficult to predict future AFIS procurement activity.

In terms of contract values we’re seeing that an average system is valued at between four million and fifteen million for states while the range for cities and counties goes down to between two and ten million. It is not uncommon to see the value of some of the larger city or county AFIS contracts surpass those of some states. For example, the Los Angeles County Multi Biometric Identification System is valued at over $24 million over ten years, $2.4 million per year, whereas the Nebraska AFIS contract is only valued at $2.4 million over four years, $0.6 million per year. While the AFIS market is widely mapped the future procurement of AFIS will require the inclusion of new technologies while not over-burdening buying agencies.

Fingerprinting and Biometrics in the Future – AFIS and Automated Biometric Identifications Systems (ABIS)

AFIS will continue to be a major procurement priority for the foreseeable future. AFIS has become a vital component for nearly every level of law enforcement. Future areas that will see this market expand will be the inclusion of more biometric identification systems. Many current AFIS will either be replaced by Automated Biometric Identification Systems (ABIS) or will expand to include the same technology suites that allow for more sophisticated biometric information capture. Some agencies already possess all or some of this technology and the precise name of an AFIS or ABIS is often less important when defining the actual functionality of the system as a whole. The most common biometric identification markers include eye scans and facial recognition and these are often the first additions made to new procurements. As well, improvements in search functions, the ability to recognize partial latent prints and search efficiency will lead the future of AFIS procurement requirements. A trend across many government information technology systems is to try and reduce the tedious and labor intensive processes that drain productivity. AFIS is following the same path as other procurements by trying to improve efficiency, usability and promote more advanced problem solving.

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities and research in the GovWin IQ State, Local and Education Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and request access to a free trial.

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