DOD, civilians to meet on RFID

The military will host a meeting in upcoming months with officials from civilian agencies so the government can achieve a consistent policy regarding the use of radio frequency identification devices.

The Defense Department buys materiel from the General Services Administration. Federal agencies use many of the same suppliers. An intergovernmental meeting will let military and civilian agencies know the commercial RFID technologies used by one another and in development by industry, said Alan Estevez, assistant deputy under secretary of Defense for supply chain integration.

The military started meeting in July with civilian agencies including GSA, the Food and Drug Administration and the Homeland Security Department to discuss RFID technologies and coordinate their programs, Estevez said. The Defense Department issued an RFID policy in October requiring suppliers to put passive RFID tags on the lowest possible part, case or pallet by January 2004.

The military prefers to use passive RFID tags to active ones because of cost. Active RFID tags, which cost about $100, use batteries, stay on all the time and require a scanning device to determine the part or container's contents. Passive RFID tags, which cost from 40 cents to $10, stay dormant until scanned.

The Army installed 500 active RFID tags on vehicles and containers during last year's invasion of Iraq. The Army and the Air Force installed 165 active RFID tags on containers shipped from Germany to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

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