DOD may use smart cards as ID

The Defense Department's Smart Card Office is expected to recommend later this summer that all military identification cards be replaced with smart cards.

Speaking at DOD's Electronic Commerce conference in Washington, D.C., yesterday, Martha Neal, deputy director of the DOD Smart Card Office, said she plans to make the recommendation before Sept. 30 to the senior steering group to which her office reports. The same workstation that currently produces military IDs could be upgraded to produce the smart cards, Neal said.

Smart cards have the potential to replace not only military ID cards, but also government driver's licenses, weapons cards, library cards, meal cards and others, Neal said. What makes smart cards attractive is that "the technology for most DOD functions is commercially available," she said.

In addition, the cost of smart cards has been falling, Neal said. For example, a card that holds 64K worth of information is expected to cost about $3 per card in 2003. Today that same card costs about $9.

Currently, DOD is sponsoring about 45 different smart card demonstrations. Still, it is essential for DOD leadership to formerly make a decision to use smart cards departmentwide, Neal said.

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