DOD unveils next-generation CAC

Late last month, the Defense Department began issuing a new generation of common access cards (CAC) to its personnel. The new card complies with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 and has added security features, defense officials said.

DOD officials announced the new cards at Pentagon news conference Nov 1.

“This is the next step on a journey the department began some years ago,” said David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. “An important element of this is that it builds trust across agencies, because there is the one credential.”

Chu said the new DOD CAC will provide uniform electronic architecture, added identity fraud prevention features, and upgraded security and privacy capabilities. The new card will hold two fingerprints and a digital photograph on its circuit chip. Also, background checks will be verified before cards are issued.

The move came just at the Oct. 27 deadline for all federal agencies to begin issuing uniform, secure identity cards to employees and contractors.

In August 2004, the Bush administration issued HSPD-12, which requires a mandatory, governmentwide standard for secure and reliable identification.

In the future, DOD plans to combine the new card with its building access card to increase efficiency, Chu said.

But the infrastructure needed to properly utilize the new cards at DOD installations isn’t in place yet, said Mary Dixon, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center, which is in charge of the CAC program.

“On the physical side, that’s the place where our challenge is and that we will be working very hard over the next several years to try to put that into place,” she said.

The ability to use the card for cryptographic log-ons, logging on to computers, is nearing 85 percent fulfillment, Dixon said. The next step will be enabling DOD Web sites to accept log-ons using the card, which will reduce the need for usernames and passwords, she said.

DOD issued over 11 million copies of its previous CAC over the past six years. Between ten and 20 new cards were issued in the first week of the rollout. The department will issue the new cards to employees when their old cards expire.

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