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Standard Federal ID to Replace Common Access Cards

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2005 – A new, standardized identification card is being developed for all federal employees.

The new card will replace the common access cards that military personnel, government civilians and contractors now hold, said Mary Dixon, deputy director of the Defense Manpower Data Center.

The new cards will look much the same as CACs, with a few changes, Dixon said. The color scheme of the card will be different, and more information will be embedded in the card, she said.

The added information on the card will be a biometric of two fingerprints, to be used for identification purposes, and a string of numbers that will allow physical access to buildings, Dixon said.

The biggest change on the new cards will be the addition of wireless technology, which will allow the cards to be read by a machine from a short distance away, Dixon said. This will make the new cards much easier to use for access to buildings than CACs, which must be swiped through a reader, she said.

The new cards themselves will not be enough to grant access to all federal buildings, Dixon said. Rather, they will be checked against each building's database to determine if an individual has access.

One benefit of the new cards will be that each individual will have to meet the same security standards to get the card, so there is a level of confidence implied, Dixon said.

"It means that I can have more trust in somebody else's credential, because I will know that they met at least some basic minimum standards for issuing that card," she said. "I will know that they did the proofing of the person and they made sure they were issuing it to the right person, and they did some background vetting on that person. They're not just issuing it to some person that appears on the scene."

A prototype of the new card is being developed now and will be finalized in the next couple months, Dixon said. The cards will be issued starting in October to all military personnel, government civilians and qualified contractors. In the Defense Department, all employees should have the new cards within three or three and a half years, she said. A timeline has not been set for the rest of the federal government.

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