The Army’s Biometric Identification System for Access (BISA) Dayworker System


BISA provided the military in Iraq base access protection but a new identity management solution was needed for temporary workers. BISA was implemented in Iraq at the direction of the Deputy Secretary of Defense to provide a secure tamper proof credential to local-nationals and third-country nationals working on U.S. bases in Iraq. It vetted the applicants biometrically against databases in the U.S. and provided base commanders with the information needed to adjudicate the applicants for access. After successfully fielding the BISA badging system, base commanders discovered that there was a population of temporary “dayworkers” that were not screened through the normal biometric badging process. This group of workers accessed the base daily and consumed resources to monitor and control while on base .  


The military in Iraq requested that PM DoD Biometrics provide an identity management system that collected full biometrics from the temporary workers and matched the biometrics against databases in the U.S. to facilitate biometric verified access, but with absolutely no credential given to the temporary workers. In part, the concern was that it was a waste to provide a credential to a temporary worker who may never return for access again.

I3 conducted an analysis of alternatives and produced a design concept paper to answer all of the demanding requirements. The BISA Dayworker system collected full biometrics on the applicants and routed them through the BISA server network. Matches were made against the DoD Automated Biometric Identification System and also the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Information System. The results were published on a website which enabled base commanders to adjudicate on the website to ultimately allow or deny access.

The new system disseminated status and access information back to handheld devices at each entry control point. Temporary workers would have no credentials (e.g. badges) but have their irises rapidly scanned. The hand held device would indicate if the person had never been seen, if the person was still in review, if the person had access or if the person was denied or needed to be detained. The system was tremendously successful and was implemented at all BISA Sites. One of the great success elements was that the handheld device was able to switch between reading BISA smart cards, Common Access Cards, PIN enabled cards (non U.S. coalition members were not biometrically enrolled), and also the iris-only Dayworker mode. This provided the military a tremendous amount of fidelity with identity management and ameliorated the temporary worker screening issue. Ultimately, this system won a Government Computer News Award as one of seven systems being the best project across the entire government in 2010.