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Thursday, December 30, 2004

The One ID card

One ID card to rule them all

Single Government ID Moves Closer to Reality
High-Tech Cards Are Designed to Bolster Security

By Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 30, 2004; Page A25

Federal officials are developing government-wide identification card standards for federal employees and contractors to prevent terrorists, criminals and other unauthorized people from getting into government buildings and computer systems.

The effort, known as the Personal Identity Verification Project, stems from a homeland security-related presidential directive and is being managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a Commerce Department agency with offices in Gaithersburg.

In his Aug. 27 directive, President Bush said that "wide variations in the quality and security of forms of identification used to gain access to secure federal and other facilities where there is potential for terrorist attacks need to be eliminated." Bush called for the development of "secure and reliable forms of identification" for federal workers and contract employees.


"There's wide variations in the quality and security of the forms of identification that people use to get access to federal facilities," he said. ". . . To be completely foolproof will be extraordinarily difficult, but we can raise the risk for the terrorist or other person who wants to fraudulently enter a facility and make it a little bit more difficult for them to get in."

The common standard also will enable many employees who shuttle between departments to enter different buildings with one card. NIST, which has spent about $1 million on the project so far, expects to complete the new standards by late February. Employees could start using the new cards as early as fall 2005, Barker said.

Several departments, notably defense, transportation and interior, began developing more secure, high-tech ID cards long before Bush issued the directive, he said. The trend ultimately could affect private sector workers, as well. Experts say the federal government's adoption of tighter ID card standards could spur more private businesses to follow suit.

Some federal employees have concerns about the new cards.

Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents more than 150,000 federal workers in 30 agencies, said the proposed standard would permit agencies to print employees' pay grade and rank on the new cards, which many workers would consider an invasion of privacy.

"For example, an agency might seize upon this technology as a means to track employees as they move throughout a building," Kelley said in written comments to NIST last week. "That is troubling, standing alone. It would be particularly objectionable if the agency tried to track visits to particular sites such as the union office, Employee Assistance Program offices and the inspector general's office."

And it took four years to figure this out?

posted by Steve @ 10:24:00 AM

10:24:00 AM

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