VA considers life after HSPD-12 compliance

The Department of Veterans Affairs will begin expanding its interoperable smart identification card pilot in June under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 to some of its more than 225 sites.

At the same time, VA will stop issuing transition cards — those purchased before the HSPD-12 mandate — and begin handing out cards that meet the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Federal Information Processing Standard 201, said Brian Epley,  VA’s Personal Identity Verification program manager.

“VA issued about 1,000 cards since October,” Epley said after a recent HSPD-12 event in Arlington, Va., sponsored by ActivIdentity. “Our enrollment sites will be similar to the General Services Administration’s under their managed-service office model.”

But Epley said the VA will not be not done even after issuing cards to all employees and contractors at more than 225 sites. His office is leading the effort to take HSPD-12 cards beyond FIPS 201 compliance and to Version 3.0 of the PIV card.

“We will complete the FIPS 201 rollout in September 2009,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to expand PIV interoperability across the federal, state, and local governments and facilities.”

VA’s long-term plan includes providing single sign-on capabilities for applications and having one, departmentwide identity management system.

Right now, VA has about 12 systems nationwide, and the goal is to link them together and with the Defense Department’s Common Access Card, Epley said.

He also wants to ensure PIV 3.0 is integrated with the agency’s enterprise architecture.

In the meantime, VA starting in June will continue to hand out Version 2.0 cards, integrate them with a standard physical-access control system, and centralize how the agency performs employee and contractor background investigations.

VA now uses the Office of Personnel Management’s e-Quip, an electronic questionnaire for investigations processing, but officials are considering doing all the investigations internally. The agency already performs inquiries for contractors and employees who need more than the standard investigation, such as secret or top-secret clearances.

Epley said the goal is to produce a card within 24 hours, in part by using the FBI’s Civil Applicant System for background checks. He said the Commerce Department has had a turnaround time of less than four hours.

VA already has started work on updating its physical-access control systems. Under a pilot at the Washington, D.C., headquarters, Epley said, the department is revamping all control systems to use radio frequency identification proximity readers.

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