NICS reports problem-free weekend after a week of issues

During a background check, the buyer's name is checked in three databases: Interstate Identification Index, National Crime Information Center, and NICS Index.

During a background check, the buyer’s name is checked in three databases: Interstate Identification Index, National Crime Information Center, and NICS Index.

After a week of issues, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System reported Sept. 15 that the system has been operational all weekend.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation NICS Section reported the last outage Friday afternoon, which lasted about two and a half hours, but also reported eight others earlier in the week.

The system started experiencing problems Sept. 6, when the FBI implemented the Next Generation Identification system — a $1.2 billion biometric system that recognizes facial features, scans irises, and reads palm and fingerprints to identify criminals — to replace the single sourced Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

While NGI and NICS are two separate systems, NICS does utilize a database within NGI called the Interstate Identification Index, but after the upgrade, NICS was occasionally unable to access III. If III does not respond to a NICS query, a background check cannot be completed.

When issues did occur, technicians had to shutdown NICS to reconnect the database. The outages effected both NICS Contracted Call Centers and NICS E-Check.

Besides a few hiccups last week, the FBI boasts a 99 percent success rate for processing checks.