The FBI is embarking on a $1 billion project to build the world's largest computer database of biometrics to give the government more ways to identify people at home and abroad. The FBI has already started compiling digital images of faces, fingerprints, and palm patterns in its systems, the paper said. In January, the agency--which focuses on violations of federal law, espionage by foreigners, and terrorist activities--expects to award a 10-year contract to expand the amount and kinds of biometric information it receives, it said. At an employer's request, the FBI will also retain the fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks, the paper said. If successful, the system, called Next Generation Identification, will collect the biometric information in one place for identification and forensic purposes.