Awareness still lacking

When the General Services Administration developed the specification forthe governmentwide Smart Access Common ID Card contract, it included a requirementfor biometric security. That means the "smart cards," which will enablegovernment employees to gain access to buildings and computer networks,will verify a user's identity by reading his or her fingerprint.

Despite that vote of confidence, biometric technology is still a longway from being accepted throughout the government. "There's still a fairamount of education to be done," said Bill Windsor, smart card specialistat GSA's Center for Smart Card Solutions.

High cost is one reason biometrics are slow to be accepted by agencies."Government will always be cheap," Windsor said.

But he said acceptance will catch on as original equipment manufacturersbuy into biometrics and start incorporating fingerprint scanners into keyboardsand mice as standard features.

That's not likely to happen soon, however. Windsor thinks it will bethree to five years before biometrics are widely used by government agencies.

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