Push for standard federal worker IDs faces challenges

By late October 2008, all employees and contractors must have IDs that meet a new standard.

The government appears to have a long way to go in meeting its deadline for issuing secure, cost-efficient identification cards to federal employees and contractors.

By Oct. 27, 2008, all employees and contractors must have IDs that meet a new standard in order to access certain federal buildings. David Temoshok, a director of identity policy at the General Services Administration, said that means hundreds of enrollment stations soon will need to be deployed across the nation, cards will need to be issued to 2 million users in the next 23 months, and systems will have to be tested.

Speaking at a Thursday briefing on Capitol Hill, Temoshok also said common applications for who can access the information on the cards will need to be built, testing operations will have to be established and a commitment to continued issuance must be made.

The government identification requirements stem from a 2004 presidential directive that sought to establish a common identification standard for federal workers. Temoshok said other entities and larger communities could adopt the standard for the cards.

During the lunch, one person noted that there have been discussions to legislatively extend the deadlines for ID programs. Participants also noted financial concerns about the initiative.

Currently, about a dozen agencies have committed to establishing their own card infrastructure, while more than 100 agencies want GSA's help in implementing the directive and to share service providers. Temoshok said the administration already has called on GSA to test the encoding on all cards to ensure that they can work together.

"We are at the start" of this entire process, Temoshok said.

Roy Bie of JDSU's Advanced Optical Technologies Group said that when implementing a directive, a solution with multiple technologies is necessary, the counterfeiting risks need to be minimized and the cards must be reliable and easy to read quickly. Designing such a card can be costly, he said.