Two-year extension won't help DHS hit HSPD-12 deadline

Despite a two-year extension past the 2008 governmentwide deadline, the Homeland Security Department may still fail to finish issuing interoperable smart identification cards to its employees by 2010 as required under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12, according to the agency’s inspector general.

Although the agency has taken steps to meet the Office of Management and Budget’s deadlines for issuing personal identity verification (PIV) cards, better management is needed, the IG said. For example, the agency has failed to give its components sufficient guidance on how to implement the directive, the audit said.

The department is also awaiting the release of a new production system that will let the agency begin to issue the smart ID cards to new employees and contractors next year, but currently does not have a certified and accredited operational system, the IG found. DHS is also experiencing technical problems in finding a solution that will let the card work with its existing systems.

HSPD-12 interoperable cards are meant to provide a standard for access cards for employees and contractors doing work with federal agencies. However, the agency has not yet determined to what extent PIV cards will be used to access physical sites or information systems, and as of the middle of 2007 had not developed cost projections for implementation.

The IG had seven recommendations as to how the DHS undersecretary for management should direct the DHS HSPD-12 program management office.

1) Evaluate DHS’ implementation plan and work to ensure that milestones are met.
2) Develop a departmentwide cost estimate to make sure there are sufficient resources.
3) Determine if PIV cards will be required.
4) Ensure that all of the proper accreditation is completed.
5) Improve the guidance for how DHS component agencies should issue cards.
6) Perform accreditation and certification of information technology used to implement HSPD-12.
7) Put OMB reporting statistics on DHS’ Web site.

The agency agreed with all of the recommendations except for the last one. The agency’s chief security officer said that posting information on how many people are required to carry PIV cards had national security implications.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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