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Many approaches to the implementation of biometrics-based identification systems are possible, and different configurations are likely to generate significantly different operational characteristics. The choice of implementational structure is therefore very dependent on the performance criteria which are most important in any particular task scenario. In this paper we evaluate the merits of using multimodal structures, and we investigate how fundamentally different strategies for implementation can increase the degree of choice available in achieving particular performance criteria. In particular, we illustrate the merits of an implementation based on a multiagent computational architecture as a means of achieving high performance levels when recognition accuracy is a principal criterion. We also set out the relative merits of this strategy in comparison with other commonly adopted approaches to practical system realization. In particular we propose and evaluate a novel approach to implementation of a multimodal system based on negotiating agents.