VA to award contract for HSPD-12 deployment

The Veterans Affairs Department by Sept. 30 will award a contract to a vendor to deploy Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 infrastructure at 225 sites nationwide.

Joe Bond, head of VA's program executive office for resource management, today said contractors submitted bids Sept. 7 and evaluations are due shortly.

“The contract will to deploy HSPD-12-approved equipment and provide maintenance and certain logistical and operational capabilities,” Bond said during a panel discussion on the governmentwide interoperable smart-card initiatives sponsored by Government Executive magazine.

The contract is an initial step toward meeting the White House’s Oct. 27, 2008, goal of giving every employee and contractor an HSPD-12-compliant smart card.

Bond said VA also has upgraded all 225 of its facilities to prepare for HSPD-12 card issuance. He said the Office of Management and Budget signed off on the application form and employees are certified to act as a privacy officer, a card issuer, a registrar and other functions.

“We will upgrade to an online application form once we begin deploying cards,” he said.

VA is one of a handful of agencies not using the General Services Administration’s HSPD-12 Managed Service Office.

GSA has signed up 67 agency customers and has the potential to issue as many as 900,000 cards by next October, said Adnan Malik, EDS’ program manager. EDS runs GSA’s HSPD-12 shared-services center.

Malik and Bond agreed that many challenges to meet the governmentwide mandate will continue to exist for the next 13 months.

“GSA has to get all 67 customers to understand the common credentialing process,” Malik said. “Everyone is used to do things on their own so it is understandable they have questions.”

Malik said GSA has issued 21 cards and enrolled 70 people in its MSO, GSA headquarters and in the Agriculture Department through three centers in the Washington area.

“We wanted to make sure everything worked before moving out with a lot of cards,” he said. “I expect we will issue more cards this week.”

Of all the 67 customers, only GSA and Agriculture have completed all the steps required to begin issuing cards, according to GSA’s MSO Web site.

The MSO is focused on the Washington area initially, but EDS already has set up centers in other parts of the country and is waiting for GSA approval and agency configuration data to begin enrolling federal workers and contractors, Malik said.

Agencies should receive some help in integrating HSPD-12 with physical-access controls and HSPD-12 compliance migration, said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director at the SmartCard Alliance.

He said his organization will issue a white paper this month on the choices agencies could take while meeting the smart-card standard.

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Standards and Technology is working on a guidance for integration of physical and logical access control, Vanderhoof said.

Vanderhoof wasn’t sure when NIST would release the document.

Bond said most agencies are focusing on the October 2008 deadline, but also the more immediate OMB mandate to get all employees and contractors with less than 15 years of experience a fingerprint and background check by Oct. 27, 2007.

“HSPD-12 doesn’t ask for anything we aren’t already doing,” Bond said. “It just brings things not efficiently followed in the past to light.”

Bond added that VA will issue three different identity cards: one that is HSPD-12 compliant, one that is for volunteers or people who work at VA for less than 6 months that will have certain HSPD-12 features, but it will not be fully compliant; and a flash pass for one-day visitors.

“We have put an expiration date on the cards for contractors to match their period of performance,” he said. “If a contractor has a one-year contract and four one-year options, they would have to get their card renewed every year that the option is picked up by VA.”

Bond said this wouldn’t cost the contractor anything for some time and it will give VA better control over who comes and goes at the agency.

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