FBI postpones project to modernize NICS

The Federal Bureau of Investigation nixed the rollout of a new National Instant Criminal Background Check System that would update the system’s software and functionality.

The FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division planned to launch the two-phased project on July 14, but postponed it for unspecified reasons. The bureau has not announced a new “go-live” date, but said rescheduling would not interfere with the peak fall sales season.

The system’s postponement comes on the heels of FBI Director James Comey informing reporters about how a clerical error during the screening process in April allowed for a South Carolina man with felony drug charges to pass a background check before buying a handgun. Two months later that man, who has been tied to racist views, used that gun to kill nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

However, it’s unclear if the shooting influenced the decision to cancel the new NICS launch date. An FBI spokesman told Guns.com that the bureau could not go into specifics about the delay or implementation process, but did release documents that explain the new system and its benefits.

According to the FBI documents, the project is focused on improving the system by modernizing the technology platform used to support the background check process.

New features include 24/7 year-round access for E-Check transactions, software that makes it easier for administrators to update and purge the system, and better name matching technology — the highlight of the updates.

The new name search algorithm will match names to multiple databases and refine search results. It’s programmed to catch common errors and spelling variations.