Republican oppose Safran's FBI contract

Published 5 May 2009

Republicans legislators express opposition to the FBI awarding a large biometric contract to French company Safran; the company is partly owned by the French government

Republican lawmakers raised concerns Monday about a contract that could be awarded by the FBI to a French company for a digital fingerprint system.

In letters to FBI director Robert Mueller, the lawmakers expressed uneasiness about granting a contract involving national security to Safran SA, partly owned by the French government. “Allowing a foreign government to provide services regarding sensitive information to our law enforcement and intelligence communities could potentially pose a grave counterintelligence threat to the U.S. government,” wrote Representative John Kline (R-Minnesota), a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “I urge the FBI to assess whether any domestic companies are capable of this work and weigh carefully the risks versus the benefits of granting a foreign government access to this sensitive data,” he wrote.

Two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee — Richard Burr of North Carolina and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia — also wrote Mueller about the contract, their offices said.
The FBI said in February 2008 that it had contracted Lockheed Martin Transportation and Security Solutions to develop a new criminal and terrorist identification system called Next Generation Identification. The U.S. company, a unit of Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) could subcontract part of the work dealing with digital fingerprints to MorphoTrak, a Safran affiliate that specializes in biometric systems.

A spokewoman for Virginia-based MorphoTrak, Eve Fillon, declined to comment.

Safran, an electronics and defense company that specializes in aerospace propulsion, aircraft equipment and defense security systems, acquired Motorola Inc.’s (MOT) biometric activities in April.