The Postal Service is planning to expand its fingerprinting services to 4,000 facilities before the end of 2021 — a 40-fold increase from current levels – in an effort to make the most of its vast network of post offices across the country.
The IDEMIA contract will build off the success of a pilot program USPS started with the FBI two years ago, which has led the agency to provide digital fingerprinting services at more than 100 post offices across the country.
The agency began offering its fingerprinting services to vet the 120,000 employees it hires annually.
Shane Powers, the vice president of operations at NSS, said the success of the program, and its potential for growth, stem from the agency’s vast delivery network. USPS operates 31,000 post offices, and 99% of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of their nearest post office.
“The in-person proofing requires that in-person event, and so what better place to do that than a place that has facilities all over the United States — whether it’s many in some of the large-to-midsize cities or smaller offices in the smallest of towns. That’s what USPS sees as a great asset, a great way to generate revenue as well,” Powers said in an interview.
Before USPS digitized its fingerprinting process, local post offices and processing facilities required new hires to go through fingerprinting at nearby police stations, but processing those hard copy records took too long.
The emerging biometrics business at USPS doubles down on the agency’s reputation as much as its physical presence in most neighborhoods. Pew Research Center polls show that USPS continues to hold the highest favorability rating of any federal agency.
Powers said USPS is committed to preserving that trust by ensuring that it thoroughly vets new employees.
“They’re very proud that they’re one of the most trusted government agencies time and time again, and a lot of it comes back down to their employees,” Powers said. “This partnership will ensure that USPS employees are properly vetted through the FBI channels to make sure that they don’t have that rap sheet that has negative stuff in it.”
IDEMIA will also support USPS in offering digital fingerprint services, enabling faster turnaround from the FBI in providing members of the public with their criminal history records — officially referred to by law enforcement as an Identity History Summary Check.
Before its partnership with USPS, the FBI had up to a 14-week turnaround to process fingerprints, but local post offices have, in some cases, processed these fingerprints in less than a day.
Goal 1 — Deliver world-class services and customer experiences
Goal 2 — Equip, connect, engage, and empower employees to serve our customers
Goal 3 — Innovate faster to deliver value
Goal 4 — Invest in future platforms
Goal 5 — Pursue legislative and regulatory changes necessary to achieve financial sustainability
Powers said USPS is looking at scaling up its biometric services to delivers on its strategic plan.
“They want to innovate faster, and with that comes this value that they’ll deliver. Our platform will be able to scale, it has the flexibility to deploy nationwide and very quickly, so we can move at the speed that USPS wants to innovate,” he said.
The nascent biometrics program at USPS has gotten off the ground faster than another proposed source of revenue — giving the agency the authority to conduct minor banking functions, like cashing checks and offering loans.
“The reason that they continued it after the pilot is that they believe there’s a high return on investment for this type of transaction in this infrastructure, and it’s made to generate revenue and provide additional paths to sustainability for USPS,” Powers said.