Agencies see smart-card value beyond HSPD-12

Transportation Department's HSPD-12 page

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NIST's PIV Website

As agencies scramble to meet the upcoming deadline for issuing smart cards that comply with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12, their focus has been on completing the required background checks and training employees. But as officials begin to look beyond the initial rollout, many are thinking about how they can use the cards to meet other agency goals.

In addition to providing physical security, HSPD-12 smart cards, or personal identity verification (PIV) cards, are designed to give employees access to the computers and networks they need and to allow employees to use the same card at all agencies.

“To me the big challenge with HSPD-12 -- and it’s taken awhile for us to focus on it -- is what do we want to do with the darn thing?” said Daniel Mintz, the Transportation Department’s chief information officer, at a July 9 conference in Washington sponsored by the American Council for Technology. “At the Department of Transportation and when I talk to people in many other places, it’s not thought through clearly what it is they want to use the card for.”

Mintz said the Office of Management and Budget, which is in charge of establishing the policies for how agencies should implement HSPD-12, cannot issue governmentwide objectives for the program because every agency has different needs. Therefore, it is up to individual agencies to determine how best to use the cards to meet their goals, he said.

Contractors are already working with agencies to help them move toward using PIV cards to allow employees to access applications and networks at other agencies. David Graziano, manager of federal sales and security at Cisco Systems, said his team is already working with several agencies on the issue.

“What it means is that I can get on your network and access my network, and if we trust each other, we can create this connection between the two networks where two people can work on one project together even though they are supposed to be separate,” Graziano said.

The other big challenge for agencies is learning to work with new partners, Mintz said.

“The second challenge is that all of this stuff has to play together in some fashion,” he said, which means organizations that are not used to working together must learn to do so.

Mintz added that he has been encouraging DOT components to work together to determine the agency’s goals for HSPD-12. DOT plans to issue about 55,000 PIV cards to employees and contractors.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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