Smart card pact open for biz

The General Services Administration selected five companies on Friday 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 government-wide 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 draft an open,

interoperable specification in 45 days 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 be interoperable," said Kevin Kozlowski,

Litton/PRC program manager.

There are many smart card standards already in existence, and a challenge

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

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

"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."

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