The National Institute of Standards and Technology computer scientists tested 34 commercially available systems provided by 18 companies from around the world. NIST conducted the study to fulfill requirements of the USA PATRIOT Act and the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act. The test used operational fingerprints from a variety of U.S. and state government sources. A total of 48,105 sets of fingerprints from 25,309 people, with a total of 393,370 distinct fingerprint images, were used to enable thorough testing.

The most accurate systems were from NEC of Japan, SAGEM of France and Cogent of the United States. The performance of these three systems was comparable. The performance varied depending on how many fingerprints from a given individual were being matched. The best system was accurate 98.6 percent of the time on single-finger tests, 99.6 percent of the time on two-finger tests, and 99.9 percent of the time for tests involving four or more fingers. These accuracies were obtained for a false positive rate of 0.01 percent.

The Justice Management Division of the U.S. Department of Justice funded the study in connection with its efforts to integrate the fingerprint systems operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security.