By Gerry J. Gilmore
WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2006 – New identification cards to be issued to Defense Department employees beginning next month will help standardize workforce identification and security access systems across the government, a senior Defense Department official said here Sept. 15. The new common access card eventually will be issued to all federal employees and is part of a standardized, secure credentialing system that was mandated after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mary Dixon, deputy director of the Defense Manpower Data Center in Arlington, Va., said Sept. 15 during a joint interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel.
Starting Oct. 27, the new "super CAC" ID cards will be issued to employees over the next three years as the old cards reach their expiration dates, she said.
The new cards interface with a secure, encrypted credentialing database and are interoperable for personal identification as well as access to federal buildings and facilities, she said.
However, each facility will still determine who is authorized access, Dixon pointed out. Information embedded on the cards is quickly referenced and compared to centrally stored personnel security clearance data, she said.
"It is an effort to try to improve the security in the federal government," Dixon explained. The new cards also help employees secure their computer networks, she said, as well as providing improved security for federal buildings, military installations and campuses.
"So, I can use this card, not just in the Department of Defense, but it can be read in other agencies," Dixon said. "If they choose to give me access, they can then read my card," she said.
The new card features the user's photograph, like other cards now in circulation, Dixon said. But its computer chip also will contain two encrypted fingerprints, as well as a unique personal identification number.
The new card can be read, either by swiping it or by waving it near a special card reader, she said.
Issuance of the new card has the potential of reducing the number of agency security badges, Dixon said, because federal agencies will refer to a standardized credentialing system. However, agency security administrators still have the authority to approve or deny access.
"The card, on its own, does not entitle you to any access to anything," Dixon explained. "It is an authentication token."
"Every time you use the card, it is authenticated, meaning somebody checks to make sure that that card is a 'good' card issued in the Department of Defense to you, and that it is still valid," Dixon said.
As always, employees who believe their government-issued ID card has been lost or stolen are required to notify security administrators, Dixon said, who then deactivate the card.
This ensures that cards reported stolen or missing can't be used in DoD, she said.