Defense Department revamps its ID card program

Defense Department revamps its ID card program

By Bill Murray
GCN Staff

Defense Manpower Data Center officials recently completed a worldwide rollout at 877 sites of an eligibility and enrollment database reporting system that could save the Defense Department hundreds of millions of dollars by reducing the use of fraudulent identification cards.

Electronic Data Systems Inc. completed the software rollout of the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), while Telos Corp. of Ashburn, Va., installed 1,317 Dell Computer Corp. Pentium, Pentium II and Pentium III PCs, 197 Dell servers and Hewlett-Packard Co. printers through its Real-time Automated Personnel Identification Systems (RAPIDS) contract, said Kenneth Scheflen, DMDC director.

Pride of Ownership

Through DEERS, the center is moving during the next several months from a 25-year-old batch-fed IBM Corp. mainframe repository for its 23 million personnel records at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., to a Sun Microsystems Enterprise 10000 server at an EDS data center in Auburn Hills, Mich., said Tim Dwyer, DEERS account executive at EDS.

'It should be more efficient,' he said of the server, 'and the government will own it.'

The center's officials have used an Oracle7 Release 7.34 relational database management system on the mainframe, with 3270 terminal emulator clients. The center will run Oracle8 under Unix on the Sun servers.

The DEERS upgrade lets DMDC officials and EDS contractors make personnel data changes at one time and one place.

The upgraded system lets RAPIDS workstation operators verify a person's eligibility for benefits through a system that's faster than the batch-fed mainframe system, Dwyer said.

DEERS is fed by batch input from the personnel systems of each service and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. The transactions cover gains and losses in personnel and unit and pay changes, said Ginger L. Bassett, the center's DEERS division chief in Seaside, Calif.

The 20-month Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 DEERS system upgrade replaced an MS-DOS system and Uniformed Service Identification Card issue program.

'The main feature of the new RAPIDS application software is the ability via a rules-based architecture to programmatically determine the correct benefit and privilege sets for DOD beneficiaries based on user input of basic identification and service record data,' he said.

The lack of digital photography standards and complete driver support in Windows NT 4.0 for biometric data capture, along with a lack of RAPIDS notebook PCs on Navy ships, has made the deployment challenging, Scheflen said. Deploying DEERS and RAPIDS with so many new telecommunications firewalls at service installations where there is a minimum of standardization has also posed problems, he said.

Standard situation

The standard RAPIDS workstation includes BioLogon fingerprint devices from Identicator Inc. of San Bruno, Calif., and digital cameras from Sony Corp. of America of Park Ridge, N.J., for Dell desktop PCs and from Eastman Kodak Co. for products from Panasonic Personal Computer Co. of Secaucus, N.J.

DEERS includes records for Coast Guard, DOD, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Uniformed Health Services active service, reserves, retirees and family members, Dwyer said. RAPIDS systems have been deployed at health care and other military facilities worldwide, he said.

All military rules and regulations are included in the Oracle rules database, which informs DEERS systems operators if particular people are eligible to receive health care services or other military service benefits, Dwyer said.

A DEERS record includes the person's name, birth certificate, Social Security number, military orders and promotions, and it tells system operators if a person has dual status as a military retiree and civilian employee of a service, Bassett said.

RAPIDS used the Non-Classified IP Router Network extensively for long-haul telecommunications from its servers to the DEERS database in Michigan, Scheflen said. Operators use an Ethernet or dial-up connection to link to the servers from RAPIDS workstations, he said.

The standard RAPIDS workstation is a Pentium, Pentium II or Pentium III PC with a digital camera for the ID card photograph, a laser printer to produce the ID card and documentation, and a fingerprint capture device to report and store biometric data, Bassett said.

EDS won the DEERS contract in February 1994. The contract expired this past February.

EDS has performed software development, eligibility transactions to and from medical personnel and other sources, network communications, system user training, and operations at a beneficiary and system user telephone center, he said.

Continuing effort

EDS officials are now working under a DMDC blanket purchasing agreement, and similar expenditures have supported DEERS through the BPA as through the previous indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract, Scheflen said.

SRA International Inc. of Arlington, Va., and TRW Inc. have performed DEERS systems integration subcontractor work, Dwyer said. 'It's hard to tell us apart during meetings. I refer to the other companies, including Telos, as teammates,' he said.

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