Agencies may have trouble meeting ID card deadline, GAO says

Challenges include testing and acquisition of commercial cards and card readers within required timeframe.

Federal agencies face "significant challenges" in meeting a presidential directive to establish a government-wide "smart card" identification standard for federal contractors and employees, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Monday.

GAO reviewed six entities for the study: the Defense, Interior, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development and Labor departments, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The report found that agencies face challenges at various steps of implementation, including the testing and acquisition of commercial smart cards and card readers within the required timeframe.

Other obstacles include reconciling incompatible implementation specifications, assessing risks of vendor implementations of a biometric standard, and budgetary planning for the overall implementation schedule.

"Until these implementation challenges are addressed ... true interoperability among federal government agencies' smart card programs ... may not be achieved," the report said. Agencies must implement the federal standard by October 2006.