New smart-card guidance coming soon

'We're just a whole lot smarter about it now. We have a lot more demands now than we did' three years ago.'

'GSA's Bill Holcombe

The Transportation Security Administration's smart-card pilot could overlap the release of new guidelines from the General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget.

GSA plans to revamp its 3-year-old, 200-page guide. In about six months, the Office of Governmentwide Policy will release the new handbook with updated information about technical standards, privacy implications, managerial support and employee training.

'We're a whole lot smarter about it now. We have a lot more demands now than we did back then,' said Bill Holcombe, director of smart-card policy at GSA.

OMB, meanwhile, has a governmentwide policy in the works, too. But its details and when it is expected remain vague. An agency spokeswoman said there is no time line for the guide's release but that it would apply to all agencies.

GSA started a multiapplication smart-card pilot in 1999 at its Willow Woods complex in Fairfax, Va., for physical and network access, travel, purchasing and telecommunications. The Housing and Urban Development, State and Treasury departments also have run pilots.

The largest deployment to date of cards, however, has been at the Defense Department. Through its Common Access Card program, DOD cards were distributed to 1.8 million employees. Ultimately, it expects to issue more than 4 million cards.

'A lot of water has been floating under the bridge in the past three years,' Holcombe said. 'The technology has changed a lot.'

Meanwhile, TSA's new parent agency, the Homeland Security Department, is studying the successes and failures of past deployments in hopes of moving its employees to a single smart-card system for physical and network access.

'We will draw on the best that is ongoing in HSD, such as [TSA's pilots] and the Treasury smart-card efforts, as well as the great efforts by DOD,' said Lee Holcomb, the department's director of infostructure. 'We hope to use the best aspects of each.'


  • business meeting (Monkey Business Images/

    Civic tech volunteers help states with legacy systems

    As COVID-19 exposed vulnerabilities in state and local government IT systems, the newly formed U.S. Digital Response stepped in to help. Its successes offer insight into existing barriers and the future of the civic tech movement.

  • data analytics (

    More visible data helps drive DOD decision-making

    CDOs in the Defense Department are opening up their data to take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that help surface insights and improve decision-making.

Stay Connected