Air Force orders smart card readers

The Air Force announced May 21 that it has awarded a task order to EDS to serve as the service's sole provider of middleware technology and smart card readers for the implementation of the Defense Department's Common Access Card initiative.

Under the task order, which was awarded via an existing smart card contract, EDS will secure tens of thousands of computer systems at more than 100 worldwide sites, said Al Edmonds, EDS' president of federal government information solutions.

EDS will supply the middleware and smart card readers that will increase security for about 50,000 computer users. The task order could extend EDS' support to hundreds of thousands of users as the program is implemented throughout the Air Force, Edmonds said.

A Common Access Card includes a photograph, identification text, bar codes and a magnetic strip. The middleware and smart card readers provide the interface from the card to a computer.

Service members can use the smart card to verify their identity, gain secure access to computer systems, digitally encrypt and sign e-mail, and access DOD facilities.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is valued at more than $1 million.

Under a separate DOD agreement, EDS began delivering 600,000 of the smart cards to active-duty personnel, reservists and National Guard members last November. DOD left the responsibility of integration and implementation of the cards to each military service.

Edmonds said the smart card readers and middleware also could "play a significant role in the future of national identification cards." A national ID card has been a hotly debated topic because many of the Sept. 11 terrorists fraudulently obtained driver's licenses.

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