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Research on biometrics has noticeably increased. However, no single bodily or behavioral feature is able to satisfy acceptability, speed, and reliability constraints of authentication in real applications. The present trend is therefore toward multimodal systems. In this paper, we deal with some core issues related to the design of these systems and propose a novel modular framework, namely, novel approaches for biometric systems (NABS) that we have implemented to address them. NABS proposal encompasses two possible architectures based on the comparative speeds of the involved biometries. It also provides a novel solution for the data normalization problem, with the new quasi-linear sigmoid (QLS) normalization function. This function can overcome a number of common limitations, according to the presented experimental comparisons. A further contribution is the system response reliability (SRR) index to measure response confidence. Its theoretical definition allows to take into account the gallery composition at hand in assigning a system reliability measure on a single-response basis. The unified experimental setting aims at evaluating such aspects both separately and together, using face, ear, and fingerprint as test biometries. The results provide a positive feedback for the overall theoretical framework developed herein. Since NABS is designed to allow both a flexible choice of the adopted architecture, and a variable compositions and/or substitution of its optional modules, i.e., QLS and SRR, it can support different operational settings.