Topic:
DRIVER LICENSES; FINGERPRINTS AND FINGERPRINTING;
Location:
MOTOR VEHICLES - LICENSES;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report


November 15, 2001

 

2001-R-0858

SUBMISSION OF FINGERPRINTS FOR DRIVERS LICENSES

 

By: James J. Fazzalaro, Principal Research Analyst

Robin K. Cohen, Principal Research Analyst

You asked several questions related to requiring drivers license applicants to submit finger or thumb prints when applying. Specifically, you asked:

1. How many states require finger or thumb prints from drivers license applicants and what proportion of the country's population this represents;

2. If fingerprints can be digitally encoded;

3. How many sets of fingerprints do the State Police have in their fingerprint database;

4. How the Department of Social Services (DSS) program for biometric identification of assistance recipients works; and

5. For what occupational or other purposes are fingerprints currently required by law or otherwise being collected by state agencies?

The answers to each of your five distinct questions follow under the appropriate headings.

STATES REQUIRING FINGERPRINTS FOR DRIVERS LICENSES

Currently, there are four states—California, Colorado, Georgia, and Texas—that require finger or thumb prints as part of the drivers licensing process. Hawaii does not require fingerprints but the City and County of Honolulu do. It appears that two other states—Alabama and Florida—at one time collected thumbprints for at least some portion of their license applicants, but they no longer do so.

Based on 2000 census estimates, the current populations of the four states that require fingerprinting are: California—33,871,648, Colorado—4,301,261, Georgia—8,186453, and Texas—20,851,820. Together these four states represent 23.9% of the estimated national population of 281,421,906. There are an estimated 876,156 people in Honolulu County (including the City of Honolulu). This would bring the total proportion of the U.S. population subject to these fingerprint requirements to 24.2%.

DIGITAL ENCODING OF FINGERPRINTS

Based on our review of some of the literature on biometric identification and fingerprinting, it seems that the technology for both hardware and software applications allows for digital encoding of fingerprint data. Some states that are actively developing systems to encode information on magnetic strips on drivers licenses are using equipment that, with the appropriate software, is capable of encoding pertinent information from fingerprints on the magnetic strip, although this capability is not generally being used by these states.

FINGERPRINTS IN STATE POLICE DATABASE

The State Police indicated that they currently have approximately 1,642,000 fingerprints in their database. These are primarily Connecticut residents, but they stated that a very small percentage come from people who live elsewhere.

DSS'S DIGITAL IMAGING PROGRAM

Beginning

Since January 1996, DSS has required recipients of general assistance (GA) (State-Administered General Assistance (SAGA), beginning in 1997) and Aid to Families with Dependent Children

(replaced with current Temporary Family Assistance (TFA)) benefits to participate in its biometric identifier or digital imaging program as a condition of receiving ongoing assistance.

The state began its program in response to legislation resulting from recommendations made by the governor's 1995 Blue Ribbon Commission on Welfare Fraud. At the time, it was perceived that many welfare recipients were “double-dipping” (i.e., receiving benefits from more than one locality). In particular, general assistance administrators (GA was still being administered in each of the state's 169 municipalities) had no way of communicating with each other about who was getting what benefits. Thus, first in 1995 (PA 95-194 and 95-351), and then 1996 (PA 96-176) (codified as CGS 17b-30), the legislature mandated that the state embark on a digital imaging program.

When the program first began, biometric identifier workstations were located in DSS regional offices and another 20 verification workstations were located in select towns with the highest GA enrollments. Roving teams of the contractor's staff used transportable equipment to enroll recipients in the other towns. Central files were maintained at the Department of Administrative Services' CATER facility in Hartford.

Enrollment for existing program recipients was completed in May 1996 in the GA program and in late August 1996 for AFDC recipients. (Town GA was virtually eliminated when the state took over the program, beginning in 1997; and Temporary Family Assistance (TFA) replaced AFDC as the cash welfare program for families in 1997.)

What Is Digital Imaging

Digital or finger imaging is a way to detect welfare recipients attempting to collect benefits in more than one place by comparing a computer-generated scan of an applicant's or recipient's two index fingers to a data base containing digital images of all applicants and recipients. The information is stored in the Automated Finger Imaging System (AFIS) database. The AFIS system includes a standard personal computer linked to an optical reader, which does the scanning. A camera attached to the PC photographs the client. A scanner collects the fingerprint and a digital tablet captures the client's signature. A printer linked to the PC produces a photo identification card within about five minutes. It contains the recipient's photo, signature, and digitally encoded fingerprint.

Each time a digital image is taken, it is immediately matched against the established database. The system is programmed to indicate a “hit” for clients who are already pending, active, or suspended. But a hit does not necessarily mean someone is attempting to receive assistance improperly. Once it occurs, the eligibility worker must determine the reason, which could include administrative error. Hits which are found to indicate fraud are investigated further and in some cases are referred to the State's Attorney's office for investigation.

The equipment used in the process includes a Pentium computer, an LCD signature tablet, a small optical fingerprint reader, a PVC card printer, and a digital camera.

Each imaging site has five workstations:

1. an enrollment workstation, where clients have their two index fingers scanned, their pictures taken, and signatures stored;

2. a verification workstation, which takes the imaging “minutiae” and compares it to stored data;

3. a special investigation unit workstation, which is used to evaluate possible hits or “matches;”

4. a data analysis workstation, which allows for report generation; and

5. a portable laptop, which is used to get images of clients who cannot report to DSS regional offices due to physical or other handicaps.

Program Costs

DSS chose NBS Imaging Systems, Inc. of Fort Wayne, Indiana as the primary contractor for the digital imaging project. The state made use of an existing contract with NBSI and the Department of Motor Vehicles to upgrade DMV's hardware and software license delivery system and create a new, equivalent platform from which DSS could launch its program. The National Registry, Inc., of St. Petersburg, Florida provided the finger imaging software and search engine hardware as well as ongoing technical support.

A 1998 mandated report to the legislature stated that the initial contract was valued at $5.1 million, to be paid over three years. This included, for the first time, a statewide general assistance database. The costs were broken down as follows:

Cost Identifier

Three-Year Cost

All hardware

$1,256,896

All software

889,262

All maintenance and operations

1,878,239

Temporary Data Entry Operators

813,600

ID Card Production

303,046

All Costs

5,141,043

A December 2000 report covering 1999 indicated that the program's administrative costs for 1999 were $660,927. According to DSS's David Mintie, the program's manager, this figure includes monthly operations costs paid to the vendor to support and maintain the system, as well as payments for the issuance of the ID cars ($.39 per card). Mintie reports that administrative costs for 2000 were $470,312. In addition, DSS paid an additional $1.4 million to the vendor in 2000 as part of an overall hardware/software upgrade that replaced all of the workstations.

Has The Program Worked?

The states that use digital imaging for their welfare populations (including California and New York) continually stress that the program does more to deter potential fraud than actually catch people who try to get benefits from more than one place. Nevertheless, Mintie reports that there were 109 “hits” since the program's inception (this is after administrative error is factored out).

The 2000 report indicates that 200,230 individuals were enrolled in the digital imaging system as of December 31, 1999. (Only adults applying for aid must have images taken.) And during the 1999 calendar year, 298 individuals were “sanctioned” (entire assistance unit, including children, denied assistance or terminated from program) for failure to participate, with an almost even split between the SAGA and TFA programs. DSS estimated that the savings or “cost avoidance” the state realized because of this was a little over $2 million. (The report calculated a cumulative savings of over $25 million since the program's inception.)

DSS calculated the savings in the following way. For each assistance program, it took the number of people (or assistance units in TFA) that were “sanctioned” for failure to comply with digital imaging requirements, and multiplied this number by a “conservative” number of months that a person or family would have received benefits.

The savings does not factor in the above-mentioned hits. DSS's Mintie explains that DSS chose to be conservative when estimating the savings, again because it believes strongly in the program's deterrent effect. DSS also relied on savings methodologies employed by other states using similar digital imaging technology. In theory, one could argue that the savings could be higher if one counted these hits.

Conversely, the savings figure does not take into account those people or families who are “sanctioned” but subsequently comply with the digital imaging requirements. DSS refers to this phenomenon as “recidivism.” In the 1998 report relied on California's recidivism assumption that these individuals had a negligible impact on the number of people who were sanctioned. We believe that factoring in these individuals would have the effect of reducing the savings by some indeterminate amount.

PEOPLE FOR WHOM FINGERPRINTS ARE ALREADY REQUIRED

For the most part, fingerprint submission requirements are closely related to requirements for people engaged in certain activities or occupations to undergo state and national criminal history checks. Fingerprints form the basis for conducting these checks so, when required, there is the associated requirement for submission of fingerprints.

There are a number of occupations and activities that, either by statute or regulation, involve submission of fingerprints. Many of the statutes providing the authority for fingerprints and criminal history checks were amended by PA 01-175, which added a few new requirements and made many existing ones consistent with each other. Table 1 lists these requirements and the statutory or regulatory authority for them.

Table 1. Current Fingerprinting Requirements

Requirement

Authority

a. Since July 1, 1994, All Personnel Hired By Local Or Regional Boards Of Education To Work In Public Schools, Including Teachers, Substitute Teachers, Instructional Aides, Maintenance, and Food Service Workers

b. Since July 1, 2001, Contract Workers and Workfare Participants With Direct Student Contact

c. At Local School Option, All Personnel Hired Before July 1, 1994 and Those Hired To Teach Noncredit Adult Education Classes

CGS 10-221d as amended by PA 01-173

Foster Parents

CGS 17a-151(b)

Child Day Care Center and Group Day Care Home Employees

CGS 19a-80

Owner, Officers, Significant Investors, and Others Associated with Nursing Homes Seeking Initial Licensure

CGS 19a-491a as amended by PA 01-175

Family Day Care Home Licensees and Employees

CGS 19a-87b

Unlicensed Non-relative Child Care Providers Applying for DSS Child Care Subsidies

CGS 17b-749k

Conn. Agencies Regs. 17b-749-12(e)

Unlicensed Relative Child Care Provides Whom DSS Suspects of Having Been Convicted of a Crime That Makes Them Ineligible for Child Care Subsidies

CGS 17b-750

Licensee as Child Care Facility or Child Placing Agency

CGS 17a-151

Employees and Volunteers Working at Outpatient Children's Psychiatric and Extended Day Treatment Facilities

Conn. Agencies Regs. 17a-20-22, 17a-147-11d

Pawnbrokers And Precious Metals Dealer License Applicants (Checks at the discretion of local police chiefs or First Selectmen)

CGS 21-40, 21-100

Job Applicants For Correction Department Positions Involving Direct Contact With Inmates

CGS 18-81l

Job Applicants for Board of Parole Positions Involving Direct Contact with Inmates or Parolees

PA 01-175 29

All Law Enforcement Personnel Taking the Police Officer Standards and Training Program

Conn. Agencies Regs. 7-294e-16

Judicial Marshals Performing Courthouse Security and Prisoner Transportation Functions

CGS 6-32g

State Marshal Applicants Prior To Taking Employment Examination

State Marshal Commission Rules

Hand Gun Permit and Eligibility Certificate and Assault Weapon Possession Certificate Applicants

CGS 29-29, 29-36g

Conn. Agencies Regs. 53-202d-2

Retail Store Employees Who Sell Firearms

CGS 29-37f

Applicants and Certain Others Associated with Entities Applying for Operating Authority from the Department of Transportation (e.g., Taxi, Livery, etc.)

Conn. Agencies Regs. 13b-17-128a(a)(6)

Drivers Of School Buses, Student Transportation Vehicles, Special Education Transportation Vehicles; Taxicabs, Motor Buses, Service Buses, and Motor Vehicles In Livery Service

CGS 14-44, 13b-97

Driving School License Applicants and Driving Instructors

CGS 14-69,14-73

Prospective Division Of Special Revenue Employees

CGS 12-559

Racetrack, Fronton, Pari-mutuel, and Casino License Applicants and Connecticut Lottery Corporation Employees Occupational Licensees, Vendors, and Contractors

CGS 12-578, 12-586f, 12-586g, 12-802b, and 12-815a

Applicants for Licenses to Store, Transport, or Use of Explosives and Blasting Agents

CGS 29-349

Applicants for Licensure to Manufacture and Transport Gambling Devices (at discretion of public safety commissioner)

Conn. Agencies Regs.

53-278c-2

Anyone Arrested for a Crime

CGS 29-12

Bail Enforcement Agents

CGS 29-152f

Private Detectives, Guard Services, and Security Personnel Licensees and Their Employees

CGS 29-155, 29-156a

Surety Bail Bond Agents for Insurers

CGS 38a-660

Professional Bailbondsmen

CGS 29-145

Applicants for License as Employment Agency

CGS 31-130

Unidentified Dead Body for Issuance of Death Certificate (by Chief Medical Examiner)

CGS 19a-409

At its discretion, the Department of Environmental Protection may require fingerprints for permit, registration, certificate, or other license applicants and proposed transferees (CGS 22a-6m, 22a-6o).

Job specifications for certain appointed positions in several state agencies require someone to have a satisfactory background check reports, part of which is a criminal history check. Such jobs exist in the Liquor Control, Animal Control, Environmental Protection, Labor Corrections, Revenue Services, Consumer Protection, State Police, Medical Examiner, Motor Vehicles, and Military departments.

JF/RC:ro