GSA taps five for $1.5 billion smart card contract

The General Services Administration on Friday selected five companies for

an estimated $1.5 billion program to supply government agencies with smart

cards and services.

The five prime contractors on the governmentwide Smart Access Common

Identification contract will produce microchip-equipped cards capable of

supporting multiple applications, such as personal identification and access

to buildings and computers.

The contract is the first governmentwide contract for smart card services

and has the potential to significantly impact the smart card market, according

to Stephen Berg, director of the Federal Computer Acquisition Center in

GSA's Federal Technology Service.

GSA, along with vendor and agency representatives, will in 45 days draft

an open, interoperable specification so that smart cards bought off the

contract by one agency will be able to work with applications and smart-card

readers used by another agency. "We are the ones who are pushing these standards,"

Berg said. "That's what we were looking for: to have a common standard among

awardees. That way we can use these cards across government."

The winning prime vendors are: KPMG Consulting LLC, Litton/PRC Inc., Electronic

Data Systems Corp., 3-G International Inc. and Logicon Inc.

Each of the winning vendors will provide a common interoperable set

of smart card services that support physical and logical access control,

such as access to a computer network or to a building, biometrics such as

fingerprint scans, and cryptographic services such as digital signatures

and data encryption.

"Agencies have been waiting on GSA for standards so that they don't

move forward with technology that will not be interoperable," said Kevin Kozlowski,

Litton/PRC Inc. program manager.

Although there are many smart card standards already in existence, getting

the standards to work together is the challenge, Kozlowski said. "It's the

glue that's going to hold them together," he said.

Each agency will be able to issue task orders off the contract for specific

applications, depending on what they need.

"I believe that the Smart Access Common ID Card contract meets the needs

that several government agencies have," such as growing security and safety

concerns, said Suzanne Strickland, GSA administrative contracting officer

for the contract. "This new technology will support important applications,

such as e-commerce."

Some smart card applications that the winning vendors are expected to

provide include an electronic purse application to store value and a property

management application to link an item such as a laptop computer with a

specific person.

— Diane Frank contributed to this article.

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