For Inauguration, your key to the city is a smart card
- By Kevin Powers
- Jan 13, 1997
As he takes his Inauguration Day trip down Pennsylvania Avenue, President Clinton will
lead a parade of smart card users.
The General Services Administration, which provides the technical and security support
services for the Inauguration, has outfitted Presidential Inauguration Committee members
and White House employees with smart cards as part of its security and inventory
Rather than rely only on the usual physical security techniques and time-consuming
personnel checks against databases, GSA opted for a smart card pilot program. By
programming the cards with personal and job function data, GSA created secure virtual
offices in downtown Washington,
giving the inaugural committee greater flexibility in choosing workspace and planning
The cards are used to control personnel access as well as improve property management
by linking smart card users with the telephones or PCs assigned them, Odum said.
"The 1996 IT Management Reform Act called for such pilot activities, and the smart
card approach seemed the best way to go. The smart card identifies a person and says who
has authorized access to which areas," said Joel Odum, chief operating officer for
GSA's Office of Presidential Inaugural Affairs.
"We have to maintain a certain level of security, and in light of Oklahoma City,
everyone is a bit more aware about the need for security in federal buildings," he
said. "Without this system we'd probably have to be working in a remote
GSA used its Multiple-Award Schedule contracts to buy the cards from Gemplus Card
International of Gaithersburg, Md., and reader/writer devices from DataCard Corp. of
Minneapolis. It hired 3-G International Inc. of Falls Church, Va., to program the cards'
integrated circuit chips.
Odum said a swift procurement was essential because the smart cards were essential to
the logistical and work management plans that would govern the inaugural operation.
"With this project, if you wait two weeks, the time is almost all gone," Odum
said. "With just three IT people we've created a virtual office that can be
considered having the equivalent of White House security."
Besides prep work, Odum said the smart card system is portable and will be used as a
security tool for Inauguration Day activities.
"There are extra card applications for access to events, issuing one-day passes
and other flexible security requirements," Odum said. "We can vary the access
areas and times for people. But everything expires Jan. 22."