VA to adopt outside security solutions

Common Access Card case study

The Veterans Affairs Department's largest security project to date will rely heavily on solutions developed by other agencies to take advantage of common government needs.

VA's Authentication and Authorization Infrastructure Project includes a departmentwide roll out of smart cards for physical and computer access. Officials have decided to use the Common Access Card (CAC), an established solution at the Defense Department, said Bruce Brody, VA's associate deputy assistant secretary for cyber and information security.

He was speaking today at an information security symposium sponsored by Unisys Corp.

VA has planned to provide employees and contractors with smart cards for physical and computer access. Over the next two and a half years, the department plans to issue more than 400,000 smart cards, and by using the Defense contract, VA will pay only $8 per card instead of hundreds, Brody said.

For the public key infrastructure solution, which will assure the authentication of users, VA plans to use whatever contracts the General Services Administration puts in place through its e-Authentication initiative, the only one under the Bush Administration's E-Government Strategy that affects all federal agencies.

The e-Authentication project focuses on solutions for many types of authentication needs. Using such solutions as they come into being over the next year will make more long-term sense than any public-key solution the department could develop on its own, Brody said.

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