DOD smart card initiative picks up steam

The Defense Department is testing smart cards that it plans to eventually

roll out to 4 million people within the department.

DOD has purchased 50,000 smart cards that are undergoing beta testing,

said Mary Dixon, director of DOD's Access Card Office. "We're now determining

whether the [card] issuance process works," she said.

The smart cards will replace an employee's identification card and will

contain digital certificates, which store digital signatures to authenticate

the user during online transactions.

It now takes about eight to 13 minutes to issue a smart card to an employee

compared with about 10 minutes to issue a standard identification card,

Dixon said, speaking at the Defending Cyberspace 2000 conference in Washington,

D.C. "This is good because it means we're staying in the time frame."

The Pentagon will begin rolling out the final "production" smart card

in March, Dixon said. By the end of fiscal 2002, the department will be

nearly finished issuing cards to 4 million people.

Momentum is building for the department's smart card program. Within

a week, DOD is expected to make an award off the General Services Administration

Smart Access Common ID Card contract for around 300,000 smart cards. DOD

is evaluating proposals.

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