Navy tests smart cards for logging on to NMCI

About 30 employees in the Navy's CIO office this week began a second round of tests using Common Access Cards to log on to the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet.

Robert Carey, chief of the Navy's e-business and smart-card policy programs, said the test, using cards issued by the Defense Department, will run 30 days.

Participants will use their cards, along with passwords and personal identification numbers, to access NMCI during the first two weeks of the test. Then they will use only their cards for the final two weeks, Carey said.

'We overtly kept this to a manageable number of people,' he said last week at a conference sponsored by Input of Reston, Va. 'We are working on a larger rollout plan that will include the card reader and authentication as part of the normal desktop equipment, as more NMCI seats are rolled out.'

This test will help the Navy set a servicewide rollout plan. An earlier test at the Navy Air Warfare Center in Patuxent River, Md., showed the Navy potential problems to work out before all NMCI users shift to CACs to access applications.

In the first pilot, 30 employees at the warfare center used their CACs to log on to NMCI. The test revealed extra staff may be needed to update cards to make them NMCI-ready, to help employees keep track of their PINs and to install card readers, said NMCI's deputy director, Capt. Chris Christopher.

Carey said the Navy also is finishing up smart-card and digital signature policies. The smart-card policy will define the use of a public-key infrastructure. Carey said Navy CIO David Wennergren is expected to sign the document 'imminently.'

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