'E-ZPass' coming to military stations

Starting in January, vendors that work with the U.S. military will have a faster way to enter military installations and the facilities of other select vendors that work with the military.

The initiative is based on an interface between two existing projects: the Federation for Identity and Cross-Credentialing Systems (Fixs) and the Defense Cross-Credentialing Identification System (DCCIS). Fixs is a nonprofit coalition of contractors, companies and nonprofit organizations, and DCCIS is the Defense Department’s new access-control system for guard stations at military facilities.

Fixs will recognize credentials that employees of participating vendors present at manned guard stations and facilities of other participating vendors, said Helena Sims, managing director of public/private partnerships at NACHA – The Electronics Payments Association, which co-administers Fixs.

Fixs is an E-ZPass-like system that vendors use to access military installations, said Jack Radzikowski, Fixs business manager at Northrop Grumman, which operates the network that handles the transactions.

The system will be introduced as DOD starts deploying DCCIS to more than 200 military installations worldwide during the next several years, Radzikowski said.

Fixs acts like a credit card transaction, Radzikowski said. Someone from a member organization presents a recognized credential at a decentralized endpoint. The organization then verifies the credential. Member organizations participate in a governing council that sets rules that act a multiparty contract.

“We can use operating rules as the basis for trust,” Sims said. The system keeps employers in charge of their data and protects employers’ privacy by not using a central database, she said.

After visitors present their credentials at the guard station, Radzikowksi said, guards scan visitors’ fingerprints and compare them via Fixs to a copy in databases operated by the visitors' parent companies. If the fingerprints match, the company sends a digital photo of the visitor.

Companies that want to join Fixs must pay an annual fee of $22,500 and submit to a due diligence check from Wells Fargo’s WellsSecure identity assurance service, Radzikowski said.

DOD called for the creation of Fixs and is finishing a two-year test that includes SRA International, Northrop Grumman, EDS and DOD’s Defense Manpower Data Center, Sims said.

The department will yield control of the network to Fixs in January, Sims said.

Fixs -- pronounced fix-ess -- meets background-check requirements set by Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12, a mandate from President Bush that all federal employees and contractors have secure credentials to enter federal buildings and log on to federal computers, Sims said.

Fixs will also meet HSPD-12 requirements for secure smart cards when those standards are set in 2006, she said.

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