A PATH TO THE NEXT GENERATION OF U.S. BANKNOTES
KEEPING THEM REAL
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This study was supported by Contract No. TEP-05-0002 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
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The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.
COMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGIES TO DETER CURRENCY COUNTERFEITING
ROBERT E. SCHAFRIK,
MARTIN A. CRIMP,
Michigan State University
CHARLES B. DUKE,
University of Rochester
ALAN H. GOLDSTEIN,
ELIZABETH A. HOLM,
Sandia National Laboratories
PRADEEP K. KHOSLA,
Carnegie Mellon University
CAROLYN R. MERCER,
NASA Glenn Research Center
STEPHEN M. POLLOCK,
University of Michigan
ARTHUR J. RAGAUSKAS,
Georgia Institute of Technology
JOHN A. ROGERS,
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
MICHAEL A. SMITH,
France Telecom R&D
GARY K. STARKWEATHER,
DENNIS J. TREVOR,
MICHAEL MOLONEY, Study Director (from February 2006)
TONI MARÉCHAUX, Study Director (until February 2006)
MARTA VORNBROCK, Research Associate (until July 2006)
TERI THOROWGOOD, Administrative Coordinator
LAURA TOTH, Senior Project Assistant (until June 2006)
BOARD ON MANUFACTURING AND ENGINEERING DESIGN
Rockwell Collins, Inc.,
THOMAS HARTWICK, Adviser,
PAUL B. GERMERAAD,
Intellectual Assets, Inc.
National Center for Manufacturing Sciences
NABIL Z. NASR,
Rochester Institute of Technology
DENISE F. SWINK, Adviser,
ALFONSO VELOSA III,
BEVLEE A. WATFORD,
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
JOHN F. WHITE,
GARY FISCHMAN, Director
This report serves three purposes. First, at the request of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), the Committee on Technologies to Deter Currency Counterfeiting undertook a systematic investigation of the trends in digital imaging and printing technologies in order to assess evolving counterfeiting threats to U.S. currency. This task was accomplished through a review of current literature and practice under the guidance of members of the committee who are experts on these topics.
Second, the committee generated ideas for potential new features of Federal Reserve notes (FRNs) that could provide effective countermeasures to these threats. These ideas were subsequently evaluated using a two-step process. The first step consisted of highlighting features that the committee evaluated to be difficult for at least one class of counterfeiter to simulate while also being easy for the public and/or experienced cash handlers to detect; for some of these features, authentication requires assistance from a simple device. Features that survived this first round were then evaluated for key development risks and issues, which include the durability of the feature, its aesthetic appearance as part of a U.S. banknote, social acceptability issues (for example, toxicity of the materials, privacy concerns, and so on), and the estimated production cost of the feature. For those innovative features that have not been used in a security-feature application, the committee highlighted particular durability, cost, and other relevant concerns as top risk areas that should be evaluated early in the development program. Depending on the maturity level of a feature, it was considered as implementable in the intermediate term (less than 7 years) or the long term (more than 7 years).
The primary sources of data used by the committee in conducting these analyses were the expert knowledge of the committee members themselves, who are knowledgeable practitioners of most of the technologies applied by these new features. Consultation with the BEP, the U.S. Secret Service, and BEP vendor and advisory personnel also characterized this phase of the committee’s activities. Care has been taken to ensure that the material cited in the report is available from open, public sources.
Finally, the third purpose served by this report relates to the committee’s realization, toward the conclusion of its deliberations, that it had generated so many new feature concepts that a structured development process would be necessary to determine the feasibility of the most promising features. Thus, the committee provided an overview of a requirements-driven development process that is commonly employed by the aerospace industry. This type of process could be adapted to develop an advanced-generation currency.
The committee’s report thus constitutes a comprehensive assessment of current technology-enabled counterfeiting threats, an enumeration of potentially effective countermeasures, and an indication of how the BEP might implement these countermeasures in a cost-effective and timely fashion. This report necessarily does not contain an exhaustive list of all possible new features. Additional technologies undoubtedly could be successfully employed to improve counterfeit deterrence. However, the committee believes that the process followed in conducting this study would be applicable to the analysis and development of other candidate features. It is anticipated that the audience for this report will extend beyond the sponsors at the BEP, to include government decision makers not intimately familiar with banknote security features, those performing research that could be relevant to advanced security features, interested members of the public, and so on. Therefore, the report provides context and background information so that its discussion is understandable to a variety of readers who are not necessarily banknote-security experts.
The title of this report, A Path to the Next Generation of U.S. Banknotes: Keeping Them Real, is a reflection of the challenge that the Department of the Treasury, through the BEP, faces in maintaining the worldwide security of U.S. banknotes without compromising their unique character and recognizability.
Three themes that are elaborated on in the body of the report emerged from the committee’s discussions and analysis:
First, digital printing technology is continuing to advance at a rapid pace, driven in large measure by the overwhelming success of digital photography. Therefore, within 10 years, low-skill amateurs will be able to duplicate almost any two-dimensional image. In a sense, the “battle of the printed image” will be lost to the counterfeiters. This advancing threat can best be
met with new features that will allow the BEP to stay a step or two ahead of the counterfeiters. Owing to banknote design and production lead times, a “step or two ahead” translates to staying more than 5 years ahead of the most advanced technology that will be available to counterfeiters. Intrinsic limits in printing resolution, registration, pattern layouts, and inks associated with these printing methods motivate a search for radically different materials and manufacturing concepts.
Second, a paradigm shift in security features seems possible. For instance, there appears to be tremendous potential to make fundamental modifications to the banknote substrate—that is, the paper in current notes. New feature design concepts are possible, such as incorporating heterogeneous materials and active elements into the substrate. There is an opportunity to leverage the large national effort in nano- and biotechnology to provide unique, highly secure features. These new approaches employ materials and technologies that have not necessarily been proven in other banknote applications.
Third, in order to be realized, these advances in security features require a proactive approach to their development. The current materials used in Federal Reserve notes are well known and proven, with a wealth of experience gained over many years. Incorporating into security features new materials that possess expanded functional performance is not a step that can be taken without considerable additional technical development and cost-to-benefit justification. Moreover, while resistance to counterfeiting is vital, another important aspect of banknotes is that they are a manufactured product used daily by millions of people around the world. Therefore, for each of the billions of notes produced each year, features must be reproduced reliably. Notes must also be durable during normal use and able to survive folding, crumpling, and occasional laundering. Their design should be aesthetically pleasing. Finally, as with any manufactured product, banknote production should be cost-effective. A successful research and development effort must address each of these multifaceted objectives. Development must also span the entire sequence, from demonstrating the concept of a new counterfeit-resistant feature to its design incorporation and production in finished banknotes. The committee outlines a banknote development process that meets these criteria.
Historically, the BEP has been quite attuned to the threat of counterfeiting. Indeed, the bureau was established during the Civil War as a key element in the national strategy to reduce the volume of counterfeit currency flooding the Union. In recent years, the bureau has recognized that modern information technology could lead to entirely new types of counterfeiting threats. Consequently, over the
past two decades, it has asked the National Research Council (NRC) to perform several studies to assess and characterize these evolving threats.1 The BEP has further initiated a series of currency design changes aimed at reducing the vulnerability of U.S. banknotes to counterfeiting.
Recognizing the evolving threat of counterfeiting created by digital imaging and reprographics technologies, the BEP requested that the NRC undertake a new study to provide the bureau with up-to-date information on the factors that would allow it to produce designs to enhance the security of U.S. Federal Reserve notes. The committee’s statement of task is presented in Appendix A, along with a description of the organization of the report. The NRC appointed the Committee on Technologies to Deter Currency Counterfeiting to carry out this statement of task. The committee members have expertise encompassing a broad range of disciplines and fields, knowledge of which was necessary in order to assess the future of the digital reprographic threat and to evaluate new technologies that could provide a paradigm shift for counterfeit-deterrence features. Appendix F presents biographical sketches of the committee members. Members of the committee are knowledgeable in analog and digital imaging and printing, art, biomaterials, computer software and hardware engineering, decision analysis and operations research, materials science and engineering, nanomaterials, optics, optical materials, paper science, and systems engineering. By design, the committee had no experts in currency design and production or in the various aspects of counterfeiting. Invited speakers and site visits supplemented the committee’s knowledge base, especially in these areas.
The committee met a total of six times.2 The meetings in May and July 2005 and in March and June 2006 included sessions that were open to the public; the remaining meetings were devoted to the preparation of the report.
Complementing the committee meetings, a number of site visits were conducted so that members could gain an appreciation of banknote production, counterfeit detection, and verification equipment. The committee thanks the following organizations and companies for making their personnel, facilities, and time available:
Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington, D.C.;
U.S. Secret Service, Washington, D.C.;
Crane and Company, Dalton, Massachusetts; and
Cummins-Allison Corporation, Mount Prospect, Illinois.
The committee is grateful to the following individuals, who presented invited briefings on specific areas relevant to the management, design, and production of banknotes; security features; and machine verification of banknotes: Sara Church, Bank of Canada; Peter Crean, Xerox Corporation; Mark Crickett, De La Rue; John Haslop, De La Rue; Annette Jaffe, Jaffe Consulting; James Jonza, 3M Corporation; Ely Sachs, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Jeff Thom, California Council of the Blind; and Stuart Thompson, Note Printing Australia.
The interim report of the study3 assessed the counterfeiting threats to FRNs resulting from new technology, as specified in Task 1 of the committee’s charge. This final report applies the assessment of these threats in evaluating new banknote features; the interim report is integrated into this report.
During the course of this study, the committee’s deliberations also highlighted the perhaps greater threat of counterfeiting that may be perpetrated through cybercrimes relating to electronic funds transfer and digital currency. Considering these threats is clearly beyond the scope of this study, but the committee suggests that this important subject should be examined in the future to identify ways to further enhance U.S. economic security.
The committee is grateful to the following U.S. government personnel who took the time to share their perspectives with the committee: Lenore Clarke, Lisa DiNunzio, Larry Felix, Thomas A. Ferguson, Goutam Gupta, Kalyan Maitra, and Robert Stone of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing; Eugenie Foster from the Federal Reserve Board; and Douglas Albright and Lorelei Pagano of the U.S. Secret Service.
Finally, the committee acknowledges the support provided by the staff members of the National Research Council, including Laura Toth, Marta Vornbrock, Teri Thorowgood, Toni Maréchaux, Gary Fischman, and Michael Moloney.
Robert E. Schafrik, Chair
Committee on Technologies to Deter Currency Counterfeiting
Acknowledgment of Reviewers
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
Norbert S. Baer, New York University,
David R. Clarke, University of California, Santa Barbara,
Amy Crook, Not Dead Yet Studios,
Thomas Elder, U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Mitchell J. Feigenbaum, Rockefeller University,
Thomas A. Ferguson, U.S. Department of the Treasury (retired),
Thomas S. Hartwick, Independent Consultant,
George W. Lynch, Hewlett-Packard,
Alan G. Miller, The Boeing Company, and
Johannes Schaede, KBA-Giori SA.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recom-
mendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Pierre C. Hohenberg, New York University. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.