Report: Smart-card growth continues

Government usage of smart cards appears to be growing, despite a number of discontinued pilot programs, according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office yesterday.

A House subcommittee requested the report, "Federal Agencies Continue to Invest in Smart Card Technology."

The report is based on a survey GAO conducted of the number and scope of smart-card programs now being done by federal agencies. It follows up on a similar GAO survey released in January 2003.

As of June 2004, at least 12 large-scale smart-card projects that the GAO first identified in 2003 were still underway. These are projects that will provide cards to either an entire agency's workforce or a substantial number of people, according to the report. As examples, the report pointed to the Defense Department's Common Access Card program, which is issuing cards to an estimated 3.5 million individuals, and the Transportation Security Administration's Transportation Worker Identification Credential program, which will supply an estimated 6 million cards to transportation industry workers.

The report also documents a number of aborted projects. A total of 28 out of the 52 identified agency smart-card projects identified in the January 2003 review have been cancelled or folded into other projects.

In addition to the 24 projects that were identified in the previous GAO survey, this survey also identified 10 new projects, including some major efforts, such as the Veterans Affairs Department's Authentication and Authorization Infrastructure card, which will issue an estimated 500,000 cards to employees and contractors.

"Agencies continue to move towards integrated agencywide initiatives that use smart cards as identity credentials," the report stated.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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