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Federal ID cards falling seriously behind schedule

Cost, incompatible systems likely to delay government-wide Smartcard system, GAO says.
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Written by ZDNet UK on

According to plan, the federal government is supposed to convert all existing identification systems to a single, government-wide federal smartcard ID by October. The congressional Government Accounting Office finds serious problems in implemenation, though, the Post's Stephen Barr reports.

The GAO reviewed the progress of six agencies in developing smart-card systems and found differences in implementation plans, which could hamper efforts to create a government-wide ID card accepted by all agencies. The congressional watchdog agency also found a lack of reliable information about the costs of buying cards and equipment and modifying software systems.

The project specs were perhaps a little too ambitious. Under the original plan, the smartcards were to hold the data of two fingerprints. But that would take so much memory it would take as long as 30 seconds to read the cards, which would hold up pass-through unacceptably.

Another problem: vendors' techniques are "proprietary and incompatible." And then there's the cost:

"Agencies have been faced with having to potentially make substantial new investments in smart card technology systems with little time to adequately plan and budget for such investments and little cost information about products they will need to acquire," the GAO said.

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