GSA's HSPD-12 rolls continue to rise

The General Services Administration plans to establish 42 enrollment stations for smart identity cards in the Washington area by early September to comply with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12. And that will kick off what officials predict will be a busy 13 months.

Mike Butler, program leader at GSA’s HSPD-12 Managed Services Office, said demand from GSA’s agency customers will likely rise higher than the original 550,000 cards GSA estimated it would distribute to employees and contractors by October 2008.

“I think we’re going to have significantly more than [550,000], but I don’t know what that number is right now,” Butler said at a meeting of the Government Smart Card Interagency Advisory Board on July 20.

In part, that’s because more agencies will likely join the ranks of GSA customers for the HSPD-12 card program. The Transportation and Interior departments are recent additions, GSA officials said.

Overall, the program is on schedule, but there are lags in some areas. For example, loading agency-specific configuration data has gone more slowly than anticipated, Butler said. “We’re well behind on that,” he added.

Larger delays could occur if GSA loses a protest of its $66.4 million contract to EDS for the card program. Two unsuccessful bidders, XTec and Computer Literacy World, filed the protest in May. The Government Accountability Office is scheduled to issue a decision Aug. 9.

In addition to the 42 enrollment stations in the Washington area, GSA will open 225 stations nationwide. Each will be able to process up to 16,000 cards per month, but GSA plans to start slow when it begins issuing cards later this month.

“We do wish to be prudent here, to make sure we’ve got our act together,” Butler said.

Meanwhile, some agencies are handling their own card rollouts. The Veterans Affairs Department has already issued more than 1,400 cards, said Brian Eply, manager of VA’s personal identity verification program.

But with 500,000-plus users to enroll, the VA has much work to do and plans to ramp up its issuance effort in September. Because 20 percent of its users are affiliates, such as volunteers, the agency needs to use mobile technology to ensure complete coverage, Epley said.

NASA has issued about 70 cards so far and plans to pick up the pace starting in August, said Tim Baldridge, a computer scientist at the agency.

“I actually think NASA is in a good spot right now,” he said.

In the future, the enrollment stations could have other uses. Butler said some federal offices are interested in adapting the stations for other purposes, such as processing fingerprints. In addition, “I think we have a couple of cities aggressively fighting for an enrollment station,” he said.

Howver, given GSA’s charge to issue 550,000 cards in the next 15 months, the stations are not looking for extra business anytime soon.

“I told them we’re going to be a little busy,” Butler said.

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