DOD officials eye smart card for physical access

Defense Department officials are taking steps to make Common Access Cards the single identity credential for authenticating federal employees, members of the military and contractors when they enter federal buildings or other restricted areas.

A request for information about making CACs the main credential for physical access was announced on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site today.

CACs are now used for visual identification and access to computer systems. The cards are also used with public-key infrastructure tools for signing and encrypting e-mail messages.

“The CAC is now moving in a new direction, identified as the single identity credential for authenticating federal employees, contractors, military and other CAC-eligible personnel for physical access control systems,” the RFI states.

The Pentagon Force Protection Agency wants to deploy a physical access control system at the Pentagon that would confirm identities using a smart card-based system.

DOD officials want input from industry before a potential contract is announced and asked for information about companies’ experience with testing or installing readers.

They also want to know which card readers on the General Services Administration’s approved list can support existing smart cards.

Officials also want companies to describe their plans for developing middleware for card readers so they can identify various generations of CACs and explain how readers will interpret the data elements on the cards.

DOD officials plan to develop an alternative smart card for people who are not eligible to receive a CAC. CACs and alternative cards must store unique identity data, digital certificates and biometric information.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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