TSA ramping up smart card tech

Entering a four-month technical evaluation phase in its smart card program, the Transportation Security Administration soon will launch two regional pilot projects and has released a request for proposals (RFP).

TSA's Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) System will provide employees at airports, ports, railways and other locations with secure access to buildings and systems.

The agency has released an (RFP) through a General Services Administration governmentwide acquisition contract and plans to begin testing identification tools at six sites on both coasts next month, according to Chris Rhatigan, a TSA spokeswoman.

BearingPoint Inc., EDS, Maximus Inc. and Northrop Grumman Corp. are eligible to respond, she said.

The technologies under consideration include cards that have a magnetic strip, a two-dimensional bar code, a linear bar code, an optical memory chip or an integrated circuit chip, Rhatigan said. The agency will consider including a digital photo in conjunction with each of the technologies, she said.

Workers will participate in the pilot on a voluntary basis by carrying their existing cards as well as the test cards, Rhatigan said. No background checks will be done at this stage.

Following technical evaluation, TSA will conduct a prototype so agency officials can assess and refine the products.

Funding for the program more than quadrupled to $127 million in the Bush administration's budget request for fiscal 2004.

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