A two-year pilot program between the U.S. Postal Service and the FBI is bringing digital fingerprinting services to more than 100 post offices, according to a Federal News Network report on Monday (Nov. 2).
The Postal Service is expanding its offerings to include biometrics and geospatial data. It is also looking to offer services to assist businesses with vetting remote workforce employees, according to the report.
In 2018, the Postal Service piloted the FBI partership program at two post offices in Washington, D.C. It has grown since then and served more than 30,000 customers.
Before digital fingerprinting launched at some post offices, it could take the FBI as long as 14 weeks to process fingerprints for its identity history summary check (IdHSC), the report stated. Local post offices have been able to handle the task in less than a day.
People have to be fingerprinted if they apply for a visa, adopt a child or apply for jobs working with children.
At the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Impact Summit Series on identity, Heather Dyer, the director of identity and access management at the U.S. Postal Service, said that the post office is getting a new technology solution for its fingerprinting program in fiscal 2022 and plans to get Impact Level 2 (IL-2) certification, according to the report.
The U.S. Postal Service first started using its fingerprint services to onboard the 120,000 employees it hires each year. Previously, new hires had to get fingerprinted at local police stations. The Postal Service operates 31,000 post offices, and 99 percent of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of their nearest post office, the report stated.
The Postal Service is implementing an “ambitious plan” to cut costs, according to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, per the report. The biometrics service and other ideas are being seen as opportunities for new revenue. The Postal Service has lost money for the past 13 years and has more than $100 billion in unfunded liabilities.
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that in 2018, the Postal Service’s retail facilities accounted for about $10.5 billion in revenue. The GAO is considering what kind of new services can be offered that will make the local post office a destination. Some stakeholders even said the post office could provide a viable banking alternative.
As facial recognition advances, tech companies are trying to get ahead of regulations. Microsoft and Amazon are among those that would stand to make the most profits if use of the technology was expanded. Microsoft has backed bills in Congress to allow facial recognition technology with oversight.
Plans for mandatory facial recognition scans of people arriving and departing the country were scrapped by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had issues with the policy over privacy concerns.