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GSA Adds Interoperability Standards to Smart Card Specifications

GSA # 9754

October 19, 2000
Contact: Bill Bearden 202-501-1231

WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. General Services Administration recently announced a modification to its smart card specifications which officials say will revolutionize and jump start the smart card industry and lead to GSA's original vision of creating an open interoperability standard across all platforms.

GSA, other Federal agencies and industry, and the five prime vendors all worked together to develop the technical standards, which include an architectural model, interface specifications, conformance testing requirements, and data elements of the contract. GSA anticipates revisions to these standards as improvements and developments in smart card technology occur.

"This is the first time interoperability standards have been established for the smart card industry," said Mickey Femino, head of the GSA FTS Center of Innovative Business Solutions. "These standards will help promote the widespread implementation of smart card technology in this country. Because of this modification, now when customers buy off the GSA contract they will have the assurance that the core applications will be interoperable."

The core requirements for the Smart Access Common ID contract include physical access, logical access, biometrics services and cryptographic services -- including digital signature, PKI, and others. Femino said the way the contract is set up, customer task orders will be competed among all five prime contractors, thus keeping competition high and prices competitive.

GSA will work with the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) to test cards and readers to ensure that those from its different vendors work with one another in accordance with the interoperability specifications. Afterwards, independent labs will continue to test products of vendors to ensure compliance.

The director of the Center for Smart Card Solutions, Mike Brooks, said that GSA will also establish a new interoperability board -- the GSCIAB or Government Smart Card Interagency Advisory Board --to look at additional specifications, issues, and recommendations over the 10-year life of the contract.

"We want to assure that the contract provides smart card products and services to our customer agencies in an effective and efficient manner over the life of the contract. Therefore we will continue to work with both our agency partners and our industry partners to resolve issues and make improvements to the contract," Femino said. "Right now we are working with several agencies to finalize requirements to issue task orders against the contract."

Femino is the director of a new office -- Center of Innovative Business Solutions -- in GSA's Federal Technology Service. This office consolidates centers of expertise for new and emerging technologies. "Our goal," Femino said, "is to provide business solutions to our customer agencies so they can concentrate on their main mission. We will have a research and business development office that will look for new and emerging technologies that are not now available to our federal customers and make them available where they make sense."

The new FTS office consolidates the following Centers: Smart Card Solutions, Fed Learn, Outsourcing, Financial Management Systems Software, Research and Business Development, and Emerging Technologies.

Additional Information on Smart Access Common ID Card

The Smart Access Common Identification Card is envisioned to be an interoperable multi-technology, multi-application smart card that supports several initiatives. These initiatives include:

Heightened government security;
Growth of the Internet and electronic commerce; and
Continued drive to reengineer processes and enhance services.

Government-wide Smart Card Interoperability

Flexibility, more smart card products and services
Works with electronic physical access, logical (computer) access, Biometrics and cryptography
Multiple vendor products will work together within the same smart card applications
Federal agencies can benefit from the smart card development of other agencies; i.e. federal smart card applications can
be shared.
Gives the Federal government common smart card identification services
Gives Federal agencies the ability to identify and authenticate employees from other agencies
Federal IDs can be used for electronic visitor control systems
Federal agencies need not issue additional access or ID cards to detailed employees
Reduces data and paper handling for Federal employees
Provides for information portability
Helps the Federal government work cheaper and better by reducing the number of access cards federal employees need for controlled access, i.e. buildings, computers, parking areas, Secured Compartmentalized Information Facility (SCIF), and other controlled areas
Creates a multiple application smart cards that can be used by any Federal agency
Provides for secure electronic routing of government documents

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