About the Biometric Center of

The Science and Technology Branch (STB) created the Biometric Center of Excellence (BCOE) in 2007 to support its overall biometrics mission and fully coordinate its various biometric programs and activities. The BCOE is the central program for advancing biometric capabilities for integration into operations. The BCOE is strengthening criminal investigations and enhancing national security, while ensuring compliance with privacy laws, policies, and regulations. The BCOE is a collaborative initiative of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division, the Laboratory Division, and the Operational Technology Division. By centralizing biometrics and having the serve as a one-stop-shop for biometric collaboration and expertise, the FBI’s ability to combat crime and terrorism is strengthened as biometric tools and technologies move more quickly from the laboratory to the workplace and into the hands of stakeholders and those protecting us.

Based in Clarksburg, West Virginia, the BCOE’s mission is to foster collaboration, improve information sharing, and advance the adoption of optimal biometric and identity management solutions within the and across the law enforcement and national security communities. To facilitate communication and collaboration across government, academia, and industry on the specific issues of central importance to the FBI, the BCOE established and formalized the following biometric priorities:

  • Extend biometric technical capabilities;
  • Strengthen forensic science and advance biometrics;
  • Drive national biometrics; and
  • Improve national security by developing and deploying biometric technologies.

These priorities serve as the foundation on which the carries out program activities. The priorities also ensure that time and resources are used wisely and every dollar invested in a biometric tool or technology is aligned with one or more of these priorities. This approach is not only smart, but also makes good economic sense, especially in these times of fiscal restraint, budget reductions, and competing national security priorities. In just a short time, the BCOE has already made an impact and launched numerous strategic initiatives enriching the always-evolving, ever-growing biometric portfolio of services.

Biometrics & Emerging Technologies (Technology Services)

By championing technology development, the BCOE is helping to accelerate the delivery of biometric and identity management capabilities while supporting multimodal system development and interoperability. Specific BCOE activities in the area of biometrics and emerging technologies include: sponsoring targeted applied research and prototyping activities, facilitating the test and evaluation of emerging technologies and systems, participating in standards development activities, and maintaining the FBI’s Certified Products List (CPL).

New Biometric Technology Center


The BCOE’s service offerings are divided into three main categories: Biometrics and Emerging Technologies, Collaboration and Information Sharing, and Enhancing Stakeholder Capabilities. These service offerings were specifically created to help the FBI and other government agencies reduce and eliminate a major challenge facing them—the capability gap—the disparity between what biometric capabilities are available versus future needs.

This graphic shows the current capabilities and future biometric capabilities and how BCOE will help bridge the gap. Current capabilities include disparate research activities to progress emerging modalities and mature biometric capabilities in fingerprints and DNA only. BCOE capabilities bridge the technology gap through applied research, test and evaluation, standards, collaboration, legal/policy/privacy, and training. Future capabilities include multimodal biometric search capability; the ability to make identifications via facial, voice, and iris samples in criminal, cyber, and counterterrorism investigations; coordinated agenda for applied research; and trained end users in multimodal biometrics.

Collaboration & Information Sharing (Relationship Management Services)

The BCOE’s information sharing efforts focus on two main areas: building and maintaining key domestic and international relationships to narrow the gap between promising biometric research and existing operational needs and enlisting the services of experts to address privacy and other important legal, policy, and procedural issues related to applied research, standards development, functionality, data management, and deployment of biometric tools and technologies.

Enhancing Stakeholder Capabilities
(End User Services)

To help members of the law enforcement and national security communities understand and prepare for the availability of new biometric capabilities, the BCOE is expanding the FBI’s biometric training services and certification curriculum. The BCOE has developed internal biometric training courses for FBI personnel and an external training course educating authorized users on facial comparison and identification methodologies, techniques, issues, and the science behind facial comparison and identification.