GSA Taps Five for US$1.5 Billion Smart Card Contract

WASHINGTON (05/23/2000) - The General Services Administration on Friday selected five companies for an estimated $1.5 billion program to supply government agencies with smart cards and services.

The five prime contractors on the governmentwide Smart Access Common Identification contract will produce microchip-equipped cards capable of supporting multiple applications, such as personal identification and access to buildings and computers.

The contract is the first governmentwide contract for smart card services and has the potential to significantly impact the smart card market, according to Stephen Berg, director of the Federal Computer Acquisition Center in GSA's Federal Technology Service.

GSA, along with vendor and agency representatives, will in 45 days draft an open, interoperable specification so that smart cards bought off the contract by one agency will be able to work with applications and smart-card readers used by another agency. "We are the ones who are pushing these standards," Berg said. "That's what we were looking for: to have a common standard among awardees. That way we can use these cards across government."

The winning prime vendors are: KPMG Consulting LLC, PRC Inc., Electronic Data Systems Corp., 3-G International Inc. and Logicon Inc.

Each of the winning vendors will provide a common interoperable set of smart card services that support physical and logical access control, such as access to a computer network or to a building, biometrics such as fingerprint scans, and cryptographic services such as digital signatures and data encryption.

"Agencies have been waiting on GSA for standards so that they don't move forward with technology that will not be interoperable," said Kevin Kozlowski, Litton/PRC Inc. program manager.

Although there are many smart card standards already in existence, getting the standards to work together is the challenge, Kozlowski said. "It's the glue that's going to hold them together," he said.

Each agency will be able to issue task orders off the contract for specific applications, depending on what they need.

"I believe that the Smart Access Common ID Card contract meets the needs that several government agencies have," such as growing security and safety concerns, said Suzanne Strickland, GSA administrative contracting officer for the contract. "This new technology will support important applications, such as e-commerce."

Some smart card applications that the winning vendors are expected to provide include an electronic purse application to store value and a property management application to link an item such as a laptop computer with a specific person.

-- Diane Frank contributed to this article.

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