MorphoTrust USA testifies to US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

23/10/15

The US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been examining the role of the public and private sectors in innovating the technologies essential for national security. MorphoTrust USA testified on the role of the private sector in developing the documents that secure identities at the hearing in October 2015. In a statement issued before the hearing, James Albers, senior vice president of Government Operation at MorphoTrust USA said:

“Unfair competition from the Government Publishing Office (GPO) has distorted the marketplace for the manufacture of secure credentials for Federal agencies, undermining the foundation of this industry—in a way that threatens our nation’s ability to stay one step ahead of counterfeiters, would-be terrorists, and other criminal elements.

“Title 44, Section 501 of the US Code requires that all printing for the Federal Government be done ‘by or through the GPO.’  This provision, as well as interpretive regulations, exempts GPO from the requirements of the FAR, for purposes of providing federal printing services.  Our concern is that GPO has embraced an expansive interpretation of Section 501, suggesting that not only can GPO produce secure credentials without the need for a competitive procurement but also that federal agencies are, in fact, required by law to procure any and all federal secure credentials through the GPO.  This section, which was enacted over 40 years ago, was never intended to extend to the manufacture of federal secure credentials, and especially not the production of sophisticated RFID-enabled identity documents.

“The production of secure credentials involves complex manufacturing processes that extend well beyond ‘printing.’  These processes require technical expertise, innovation, research and development, as well as investment, all of which are best performed by a competitive private sector, motivated to provide the best products at the best prices.

“MorphoTrust invests millions of dollars in research and development each year to ensure that the identity documents that it produces are the most advanced, the most secure, and the most reliable in the world. MorphoTrust is the leading provider of identity solutions and services, with issuance systems that produce 80% of the nation’s driver licenses, as well as the Passport Card for the U.S. Department of State. 

“MorphoTrust employs 1,600 people, some of whom are the world’s leading experts in secure card design and production.  We were the first to introduce many security features in government identity documents, like UV variable imaging, laser perforation, and a revolutionary new design for ‘see, feel and machine-validation’ using digital watermarks.  MorphoTrust is also leading the way in developing secure digital identity documents that involve no printing at all. In August, we announced the launch of a pilot with the Iowa Department of Transportation for testing of the nation’s first secure digital driver’s license. 

“Given the threats our country faces, now more than ever, the United States Government needs strong industry partners that are committed to security, quality, and investing in innovation.  However, the GPO’s aggressive expansion into the federal secure credentials market removes the financial incentives for industry to invest in innovation. 

“A Federal agency’s ability to procure secure credentials directly from private vendors, through a full and open competitive procurement, should not be inhibited. It is time for Congress to reform Title 44, and clarify the authority of agencies to procure the production of secure credentials directly from vendors – ensuring that the United States government will be able to avail itself of the quality assurance, technological innovation, and cost efficiencies associated with robust vendor competition.”

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MorphoTrust USA testifies to US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
MorphoTrust USA testifies to US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

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