Standards Issued for Government ID Cards; Biometric Data to Be Collected from Federal Employees, Contractors

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Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The National Institutes of Standards and Technology has issued the final specifications for standardized Personal Identity Verification cards required for all federal employees and civilian contractors by Oct. 27.

The cards - which use biometric data such as fingerprints, retinal scans, facial recognition and other smart technology - are under development in response to Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12, an order issued in 2004 by President Bush for mandatory, standard governmentwide IDs.

"The standards are in place. Several vendors have developed cards which are now being tested for compliance with those guidelines," said Curt Baker, manager of the PIV program at the standards agency, adding that the production timetable is in the hands of the General Services Administration.

The cards themselves are intended as a marvel of security and practicality, granting personnel access to any federal building or information system nationwide. PIV technology incorporates holograms, bar codes, microprinting and encrypted computer chips, which include signatures and personal demographic information, according to Identity Alliance, a private Indiana-based security firm.

"These standards will usher in a new generation of smart PIV cards that will work the same across all federally secured facilities," said company spokesman David Corcoran, who calls PIV cards a "personal information vault" and thinks they will have plenty of effect in the private sector as well. …