Court reinstates OTI as e-passport RFID chip vendor

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims has reinstated On Track Innovations Ltd. (OTI) as a potential provider of contactless identification chips for the federal government's electronic passport project, according to court officials and the company.

A court clerk said Judge Charles Lettow set aside the Government Printing Office's decision to eliminate OTI from the competition to provide the radio frequency identification (RFID) devices that are to be embedded in U.S. passport covers.

The judge directed GPO to resume testing of OTI's chips at the point where the agency halted the testing.

Oded Bashan, the chairman, president and chief executive officer of Fort Lee, N.J.-based OTI, said, "We are pleased with the judge's decision. We are looking forward to continuing work with the government on this project." He added that OTI is ready to begin mass production of the RFID chips.

The claims court decision is the latest twist in the winding process of purchasing the RFID chips that will contain photographs of passport holders.

The process has been bent by objections from privacy advocates, who proved to the State Department that the original design was subject to potential eavesdropping.

The GPO, which produces the passports for State, had planned to issue a contract for the chips more than a year ago.

State and GPO are seeking more than one provider for the contactless chips, and are evaluating products from several RFID vendors.

Wilson P. Dizard III is a staff writer for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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