Identification Technology Partners, Inc.

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July 28, 2014 Issue

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Engineering and Consulting for Identification Systems’ Critical Elements

About Identification Technology Partners, Inc.

Identification Technology Partners, Inc. (IDTP) is the leading engineering and consulting firm specialized on the critical elements of identification systems, and provides objective, unbiased support for their design, development, operation and deployment. We deliver unique support capabilities to large-scale biometrics and credentialing initiatives, the access security marketplace, and the related technology industries.


IDTP provides independent subject matter expertise, broad program support services, and commercial market-centric research and reporting services. Our clients include various agencies of the federal government, Fortune 500 companies, and other commercial businesses.


IDTP is distinctive. We have assembled a team of highly accomplished biometrics and credentialing experts who have been entrusted to develop and support some of the world’s largest and most complex biometrics identification systems and identity credentialing programs. We understand and respect the nature and sensitivity of these important security projects, and the involvement of our team in achieving success.


IDTP has the career-veteran experts recognized for real-world project experience, and extensive involvement in developing standards, compliance testing tools and industry best practices. Our award-winning technical “subject matter expertise” and program management performance ensures success in the development of effective identification solutions and the competent fulfillment of program goals.

Paul Collier


Mr. Collier is a founding partner and serves as President of Identification Technology Partners, Inc. He also serves as Executive Director of The Biometric Foundation. He has held executive posts in the design, marketing and implementation of biometric and identification systems since 1978. His background in biometrics encompasses commercial, government and military applications of biometrics, including physical and logical access control, entitlement fraud control, refugee tracking; border control, and e-commerce and electronic funds transfer applications. Mr. Collier has participated in many government and industry biometric standards activities over the past 20 years. He is a founding member of the International Biometrics Industry Association and served on its board of directors for over two years. He has served on the Service Membership Advisory Board of the American Bankers Association and has testified before both US House and Senate committees as an expert witness on biometric technology.


Mr. Collier’s firm has provided subject matter expertise and engineering support to US Government biometric and credentialing programs since 2000, and recently completed a four-year engagement supporting FBI’s Next Generation Identification system.

“We are a customer first organization. I have learned in all my years of government business that the only thing you really have to focus on is making your client successful, and if you do that, they will be with you forever. Over the years, I have seen that play out many times.” - Paul Collier

Identification Technology Partners, Inc.

Conference and Technology Center
12 S. Summit Avenue, Suite 110
Gaithersburg, MD 20877

Identification Technology Partners, Inc.
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Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine,
Published – July 27, 2014

CEOCFO: Mr. Collier, your site indicates, “We make ID work.” How so? What do you do?

Mr. Collier: We are what is known here in Washington as a SETA firm – Scientific Engineering and Technical Assistance. We have a team of highly experienced people in three different market verticals; biometrics, credentialing systems and forensics. Many of our people literally wrote the books in their field.


CEOCFO: What do you understand fundamentally about identification that perhaps the average person or company does not quite get?

Mr. Collier: Most systems that involve biometric identification and credentials are very complex involving many different disciplines, and there are always things that can go wrong. IDTP has over 250 years of combined experience in biometrics and approaching 200 years of large-scale identification program background. That knowledge and experience saves our clients’ money and makes sure they meet their timetables for deployment or implementation.


CEOCFO: What types of companies or organizations tend to use your services?

Mr. Collier: Currently our customer mix is about 85 percent government and 15 percent commercial. Our government customers are mostly in the law enforcement, homeland security and defense sectors. The commercial customers include manufacturers, integrators and fortune 500 companies as both providers and end users.


CEOCFO: Would you like to see the mix change?

Mr. Collier: It does from time to time. In the past we have been heavier on commercial work. Certainly before the economy tanked in 2008 there was a lot more commercial business than there is now. I would say unfortunately for the industry, much of our commercial work now is litigation support, patent holders suing and users being sued. I guess that is another way to make your money, but we do not see the commercial entities coming on strong here in Washington like they were ten years ago. In fact, we have seen many of the large integrators in Washington shutter their biometric and credentialing practices as the post 9/11 and defense applications wind-down or lose emphasis. Also biometrics were used extensively in both Iraq and Afghanistan and most of those operations have ceased.


CEOCFO: Does that help you?

Mr. Collier: Yes it does.


CEOCFO: When is a company or organization likely to come to you? What is a common project and something that is a little more outside the box so we can get a feel for the range of what you provide?

Mr. Collier: If the government, either through congressional mandate or just as a result of their desire to improve their processes wants to deploy a system to provide vetting or positive identification of people who are participating in it, or look out lists like terrorist watch lists and that sort of thing, then we can provide soup to nuts support in those particular areas. We do not typically get involved in implementation from a fulfillment perspective. We sit on the government side of the table most of the time, meaning that we help write the specifications, help them put their procurement documents together, assist in the selection of companies that can do the work, and then we stay on staff and make sure that the government is getting what it’s paying for and the performance matrix is where they need to be. We actually become part of the government program office. We have one account right now in the DHS where we have been there since before DHS was established. This will be our 13th year I believe coming up working for them deploying various types of credentials; the TWIC card, the registered traveler program are good examples.


CEOCFO: Do most government agencies start with a consulting company or do some just go directly to a provider?

Mr. Collier: With most of the programs that I have seen, certainly implementations of large-scale programs since 2001. There is a frontend process to it that usually involves a consulting firm or SETA organization.


CEOCFO: Are there many companies in the industry perhaps not with your depth but generically there?

Mr. Collier: There are the usual large consulting firms that the government relies on for a myriad of things. I do not consider most of them to have our depth, but they have some good people, that is for sure. MITRE, Booz Allen Hamilton, Noblis and the large accounting firms with consulting practices like Deloitte, provide similar services to what we do.


CEOCFO: Do find overall that there is a trend in the agencies to look at a more specialized firm?

Mr. Collier: Actually, we are seeing that shift. We envisioned that shift taking place in Washington years ago that when the budgets got tighter and the desire to get from point A to point B became less of a risk because of commonality across systems, that they would turn to a smaller, more nimble firm that as we say; does not have learn on their dime. Yes, there is increase interest to go to companies our size and engage the exact expertise they need nine times out of ten at a lower cost and a much faster turnaround than they would have with a larger firm that typically has much higher overhead costs.


CEOCFO: How do you keep up with the changing threats and the changing technology? What is the key to doing so effectively?

Mr. Collier: Our firm is heavily involved in most of the trade associations, standards activities and interagency working groups. In the firm right now, we have finished up the seventh year of chairing the International Biometric and Identification Association, which I cofounded back in 1998. We continue to serve as a co-chair of that organization. We are very heavily involved in the ANSI and ISO standards activities for biometrics, chair some of the subcommittees, and provide many of the technical writers for those standards. That automatically puts you at the forefront of change and new technologies. At the same time, a significant portion of our business is in performance analysis and testing. We see firsthand new modalities for biometrics and new identification mediums because we are involved in the independent testing of those things. I think that is probably key.


CEOCFO: What are some of the changes that you are seeing now that are most promising?

Mr. Collier: There is a movement in the government right now that I applaud both as a taxpayer and a technologist to consolidate many of the programs on the back end. If you are in a particular industry that requires vetting and some sort of a credential or other authorization you might end up with three or four different background investigations and credentials. Completely different processes you have to go through and maybe even pay for. The government is now trying to consolidate process and move to a more person-centric identification model. This saves time and money. From a technology perspective, the government is embracing more commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products, which typically cost a fraction of custom-built government program specific solutions. This is evident as the government and industry embrace more mobile identification products built on standard consumer platforms and operating systems. Biometrics is interesting in the sense that America has always led the world in the development of the technology, but remains near last place on the use of the technology. In Asia and some European countries, biometrics are ubiquitous. They are on office doors, on apartment doors and banks. They are everywhere. Here in the United States we have not embraced the technology at the same level. We are beginning to see people recognize the merits of biometrics to prevent the identity theft that’s now getting out of control. It can be valuable tool in fraud prevention. You remember what we went through this past holiday season with the credit card losses. There are people starting to look at biometrics as potentially part of the financial transaction model. Biometrics really offers you two different benefits – security and convenience. I have always believed that many Americans will never buy into biometrics for security, but they will for convenience, but I think they are starting to see that they have security advantages as well.


CEOCFO: I cannot see any downside to that. Is it just that the government does not act judiciously as they could?

Mr. Collier: In all fairness to the government, and after 38 years in Washington I am one of its biggest critics. Most government identification programs are initiated by Congress and contain a myriad of different issues, nuances and constraints. Unlike the private sector, when a new program is implemented in government the number and intensity of external controls and factors makes implementation anything but simple and efficient. These factors include the politics, policy, privacy, security, legal approvals, social concerns and even environmental issues. To complicate things even more, the more time it takes to deploy new technologies, the more the technologies change. What appears at the onset to be relatively simple becomes more problematic as time goes on. Add to this mix that most government actions are event driven, the events keep coming, and times keep changing. Makes for some long days at the office.


CEOCFO: How do you spend your time as CEO? What is your focus day to day?

Mr. Collier: As with any small business, you get to do a little bit of everything every day. I still do much of the personnel work with respect to recruiting and hiring, and some of the administrative, banking and insurance work. I am involved with those things if for no other reason than from a fiduciary perspective. Much of my time is spent attending to client issues and monitoring on-going assignments to see that they are in-sync from a business perspective. We are blessed in this firm with an incredible collection of talent. As I mentioned, we have people who have 25 to 30 years’ background in their respective fields. With that talent come eccentricities and communications challenges. Over the years I have been called a cat herder, and a psychotherapist among other things. However, working with these very talented individuals and then seeing them perform as a team is a sight to behold. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. At the same time, we are bringing in a younger generation. We helped set up the some of the degree programs for biometrics in several universities and we have cycled many of the best and brightest graduates of those programs through our firm. They do represent the next generation in our firm, and it is our desire to impart as much knowledge as we can to them before we retire for the final time.


CEOCFO: Because you have so many people who are so senior and have such experience, is it difficult to let go to the younger generation?

Mr. Collier: I have worked with people in the past who have had difficulty doing that. I do not see that as a problem at IDTP. Everyone that is in a mentoring role in this firm is very receptive to handing off the baton and even learns new tricks from younger engineers.


CEOCFO: What is ahead? What might be different a year from now at IDTP?

Mr. Collier: Now that we have a budget again in Washington, we have seen programs that have been on hold for quite some time moving forward, because with the continuing resolutions agencies were limited as to what they could do. I see an increase in business. From our peak back in 2010, we experienced an almost 50% reduction in staff and business. We are back to 70% of that peak level and expect to exceed those earlier peak numbers by the end of Q1 next year. I would say growth, absolutely.


CEOCFO: Put it all together for our readers. There are many companies in your industry. Why does IDTP standout?

Mr. Collier: If I could put it into the vernacular, hands down we are the best bang for the buck. I had an agency program office tell me years ago that we had done three times the work in a third of the time for half of the money as our predecessor. By staying in our swim lane we can focus on the task at hand and not be become engaged in a steep learning curve on our client’s dime. We are a customer first organization. I have learned in all my years of government business that the only thing you really have to focus on is making your client successful, and if you do that, they will be with you forever. Over the years, I have seen that play out many times. In addition, with respect to client relations we successfully avoid the practice of increasing our price during the life cycle of a project as some of our larger competitors do. That does not foster a long relationship the clients. In 14 years of business, we have never issued an Engineering Change Proposal (ECP). When I tell government-contracting officers that, they look at me with shock and disbelief. As a result of our extensive background and experience in our subject matter, with few exceptions we hit the mark every time.


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