NASA plans smart-card pilot, agencywide rollout

NASA in May will begin testing a smart-card program for access to facilities and information systems. If successful, the program would be rolled out to the entire agency, officials said.

Employees at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will kick off the first trial.

NASA today said it hired Maximus Inc. of Reston, Va., to develop and implement the technology for agency employees and contractors.

The $93 million task order went through the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service's Smart Access Common ID contract.

'If the field trials are successful, and we receive the approval of the Office of Management and Budget, we plan to deploy over 10,000 smart cards before the end of 2005,' said David Saleeba, NASA's assistant administrator for Security Management and Safeguards.

NASA has been working on the program for more than two years with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and a working group of the Interagency Advisory Board, officials said.

The cards will enhance physical and IT security by requiring a higher level of authentication and identity assurance, NASA officials said. Employees and contractors must swipe their card across a reader to enter a center, and also will have to enter their card into a desktop reader to access their PCs.

NASA joins a host of other agencies in using smart cards for physical and system access security. The Defense Department expects to finish rolling out more than 4 million smart cards by the spring and GSA is distributing 14,000 this year.

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