EDS, Litton PRC Grab Defense Department's First Smart Card Order

EDS, Litton PRC Grab Defense Department's First Smart Card Order

The Department of Defense has awarded its first task order for smart cards under the General Services Administration's $1.5 billion smart card program to Electronic Data Systems Corp and Litton PRC Inc.

The order for 650,000 smart cards has an estimated value of about $4.9 million and represents about half of the 1.3 million cards the Pentagon anticipates purchasing in 2001.

Litton PRC of McLean, Va., and EDS of Plano, Texas, are two of the five prime vendors on the General Services Administration's $1.5 billion smart card contract. The Defense Department order is the second task order to be issued against the contract in two weeks, following the $3.7 million order by Veterans Affairs for some 200,000 smart cards from Maximus Inc., also of McLean.

EDS received an order for 600,000 cards; Litton PRC will deliver the remaining 50,000 cards. The cards are scheduled for delivery over the first two calendar quarters of 2001.

Many people had expected the Defense Department to order all 1.3 million cards in this task order, but questions regarding the Pentagon's expectations and vendors' proposals delayed the process.

"DoD got a little behind in their plan of action," said Mike Brooks, director of GSA's Office of Smart Card Initiatives. "A lot of particulars had to be worked out. This being the first card order, I'm not surprised."

The companies were informed of their awards on Dec. 15, said Brooks.

Kevin Kozlowski, program manager for the GSA smart card contract at Litton PRC, said more information would be available about the task order after the kickoff meeting in early January between the Defense Department and the two vendors.

"We're ready and eager to support GSA, the Defense Department and all the potential customers," Kozlowski said. "The [interoperability] architecture that GSA has put out has solved a lot of the problems."

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is defining testing parameters to evaluate the interoperability standard. Kozlowski said he would not know until the January meeting what effect, if any, NIST testing would have on the timing of card production and shipment.

Brooks said the Defense Department order, which is just for the cards, is stimulating some activity from military agencies interested in purchasing the peripheral equipment needed to use the cards.

"Those calls are trickling in. I have a feeling that after the first of the year we're going to be pretty busy," Brooks said.

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