GPO expands smart card printing business

The Government Printing Office received its first order from a major department for smart identification cards.

The Homeland Security Department asked GPO to print “a large order worth multimillions of dollars,” said a source with knowledge of the deal.

GPO officials would not comment on the deal, and Benjamin Brink, assistant public printer for security, testified that the agency has received an order before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Government Management, Organization and Procurement Subcommittee.

“Due to the sensitive nature of the secure products and privacy concerns therein, GPO does not speak about the work we do for customers,” said Gary Somerset, a GPO spokesman.

Brink told lawmakers that GPO projects a growing business in smart cards and other secure identification documents. It already prints e-passports and designed the security printing for DHS’ SENTRI and Nexus border card programs.

GPO plans to expand its offerings in secure printing.

“GPO is in the process of procuring the capability to provide card personalization,” Brink told lawmakers Oct. 18. “In the personalization process, the smart-card chip is loaded with the bearer’s identity information, biometric data and permissions.”

As a part of its effort to move into the smart-card world, GPO received approval about a year ago to become the second federal shared-service provider for public-key infrastructure credentials.

Brink said it will help agencies issue their own certificates.

“A strategic initiative of the GPO is to establish a government capability and capacity to issue smart-card identification credentials to customers providing a trusted, secure supply chain for federal identification credentials,” Somerset said.

GPO is joining a crowded field of providers. Vendors such as Entrust, VeriSign and Operational Research Consultants are firmly established in the federal sector to provide PKI credentials and are qualified under Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12. Meanwhile, the General Services Administration lists seven vendors that provide personalization service, including XTec, RSA Security and Gemalto.

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